Gerry Torres, owner of the gritty yet clean City Tacos in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, opened Tostada’s down the street on August 15. He did so quietly, confident in his concept. Both of his restaurants accept Bitcoin through the Bitcoin wallet Airbitz.
“I wanted to get a little exposure and have people trickle in,” Torres told me. “You want to go slow and take it easy and make sure things are right. So far, so good, people seem to be enjoying it.”
When you walk into Tostada’s, large windows and bright walls welcome you into the open, vibrant and simple space. Filled with the diverse smells of spices, fish and fruit, it’s easy to grow curious while waiting in line to order your first time. The nuanced menu features fresh and light mariscos with a unique take.
As I mulled it over, my options included a tostada filled with octopus, shrimp, crab meat, pineapple, red onion, parsley, spicty tomato, lemon juice and raspberry sauce (Mixta) or another with red snapper fish, cucumber, tomato, red onion, parsley, serrano chile and clamato (Ceviche de Pescado).
“The menu is basically something fresh, something different, it’s something new,” he said. “It’s a take on mariscos, it’s a take on sushi and it’s a take on juice crafters.” When you roll all three of those things together, you get Tostadas.
“The Mariscos is basically some of the traditional preparations, while the sushi aspect goes into the quality of the fish and the techniques used in preparation of the fish.” The fresh fruit element which Tostada’s incorporated into its ceviche evolved into cold-pressed juice and fruit salads.
“It’s something that’s wholesome, and something that’s good for you,” he told me.
The Tostada de Nopales caught my attention so I asked about that. The nice cashier told me they were out due to an afternoon lunch rush. I ordered the Aguachile Tostada, a more traditional Mexican option than some others at Tostadas. The tostada broke up easily, especially as the aguachile sauce soaked in, and the large Mexican shrimp, lemon juice, red onion, chile serrano, cucumber and garlic flavors combined for a complex, tasty experience. This was the favorite of my two dishes thanks to my spice-drawn palate.
The Camaron Tostada - my second choice - features shrimp, olive oil, sesame seeds, red onion, parsley, tomato, clam, orange and lemon juices, cilantro and mayonnaise. This dish is sushi in disguise. The very fresh shrimp and clams define it, while the orange and lemon juices lighten it. The crunchy shell satisfied a certain craving in a mild and savory dish much different than the Aguachile Tostada.
My drink choice - Platanos - is made of banana, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. This very cold-pressed option is very familiar to horchata, yet fuller. Like a healthy dessert, if you’re a fan of horchata you will love this juice option.
Torres owns City Tacos, Tostadas and IB Street Tacos in San Diego. One thing that might tie all of his restaurants together is a minimalist take, a trend popular among Mexico’s hippest, world-renowned restaurants. At Tostada’s, the Latin, Asian and Californian come together.
Although Torres has thoughts of opening places throughout the county, his heart seems to be in North Park.
“North park is so cool - its hip and vibrant, and people young-and-old are out and trying to new things and supporting a new cause on a daily basis,” he says. Other than unique tacos, his restaurants offers an unique payment option.
“City Tacos started accepting Bitcoin pretty much from the beginning,” Torres told me. “We had a nice response.” Torres says it’s a great conversation piece.
“There is nothing wrong with it. It fluctuates like any other currency. Being multicultural and always being immersed in Mexican culture I am used to having currency fluctuations and the exchange rate from one or another so it’s definitely something that is not foreign to me and Bitcoin appears to basically be the same.” Since his taco shop began accepting Bitcoin, he’s noticed some changes.
“It’s gotten a lot better I think and it’s grown since I have accepted it,” he said. “I have bitcoin meetups now and then and the attendees purchase goods with Bitcoin.” Bitcoiners do not make up a large chunk of Torres’ customer base.
“It’s a small percentage, but the way I look at it it’s a percentage where they are people I would not be catering to.
“They are actually searching for you and not the other way and that is a plus,” he adds.