Las Cuatro Milpas

Worth a detour

Las Cuatro Milpas is one of the longest standing Mexican restaurants in the United States, first opened in 1933. It has never closed, moved, or changed ownership. We have little doubt that it is one of the most authentic Mexican Restaurants in the United States, too. Everything about it reminds us of a simple working class restaurant in Mexico. Food is all from scratch; you can see cooks hard at work, rolling out flour tortillas and preparing masa dough from hominy using a machine that looks a half-century old.

To make the most of this place’s homey appeal, we recommend focusing on items served in a bowl. Simple dishes of rice and beans with an optional addition of pork tamales served with a basket of hand-rolled flour tortillas are the best choice. The beans are creamy and with clear pinto flavor and only enough salt and lard to enhance the texture and palatability rice is textured and coated with invigorating spices.  A chorizo-spiked stew of scrambled eggs and beans is an amplified alternative to the normal rice and beans, a dish that usually borders on being too rich and salty. San Diego Chicanos say that the food here reminds them of their Grandmothers’. That doesn’t surprise us. It is comforting, and compulsively edible.

Many diners opt for the more flashy rolled snacks like taquitos and burritos. These are tasty enough, but not up to the high standard of the rice, beans and tamales. If you must get a taco, get the unrolled ones stuffed with a Carnitas like pork, iceberg lettuce and sprinkled with Cotija cheese. The tortilla is fried until just crispy on the edges. When you bite into these tacos you’re rewarded with refreshing burst of juice and oils. These are a good example of this nearly lost style of soft taco once popular in California.

The cafeteria style counter is very efficient; food is plated on the tray as you order it. Make sure to grab a few ramekins of hot sauce. It’s a deliciously simple but unique chili oil, reminiscent of what you find at Chinese dumpling houses, but made Mexican with the subtle smoke of ancho chile and the richness of rendered pork fat.

Because the lines build up in the afternoon, and because of the warming nature of the simple, filling dishes that Las Cuatro Milpas does best, we recommend going for breakfast. Las Cuatro Milpas is a solid deal even compared to a taco truck. It’s hard to imagine spending more than five dollars to get full at the restaurant. The best items served here average half of that. On Saturdays, a special treat is available… Menudo!

What to Eat
Las Cuatro Milpas, Rice, Beans and a Tamale
Rice, Beans and a Tamale
Best dish: a bowl of rice and beans with a soft pork tamale floating in it.
Las Cuatro Milpas, Flour Tortillas
Flour Tortillas
The flour tortillas here are excellent and rolled just prior to cooking.
Las Cuatro Milpas, Rolled Tacos
Rolled Tacos
The rolled tacos are covered and smothered with lettuce, crema, spicy red sauce and Cotija cheese.
Las Cuatro Milpas, Chroizo and Rice
Chroizo and Rice
A thin stew of beans, chorizo and scrambled eggs with seasoned rice to mix in. The perfect breakfast in a little bowl.
Las Cuatro Milpas, Pork Tacos
Pork Tacos
An old-school California taco style, almost forgotten: pork, iceberg lettuce and Cotija cheese in a semi crisped tortilla.
Directions and Hours
closed now
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
6 stops | 125 MILES | 2 hr 29 min

Eating Up the Coast

The trip from San Diego up to Los Angeles County is only 115 miles or so, but with treacherous Southern California gridlock, the drive could eat most of your day. Instead, why not spend the day eating? Starting in San Diego, one of the most historic morning meals in the West can…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

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