These are San Diego’s best churros. Do you agree?
Spanish and Chinese historians dispute who invented churros, but most agree that the deep-fried, cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted fritters have been around since the 16th century.
Churros have long been an inexpensive snack in San Diego and Tijuana, but recently they’ve begun popping up in unique ways at restaurants, bars and food stands countywide. Here’s a look at some of San Diego’s newest and best churros creations.
Punta Mita-style churros: Lola 55, East Village
Lola 55 owner Frank Vizcarra spent two years traveling through Mexico searching for the perfect churros recipe before finding it in the tiny resort town of Punta Mita, which is famous for having the “world’s best” churros. He wasn’t able to buy the churro-master’s recipe, but worked for months with chef Drew Bent and two sous chefs to re-create it in Lola 55’s house churros dessert, which is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and not too sweet. A five-churro dish is fried to order, dusted with fresh-ground cinnamon and lime zest and served with side of cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce). Horchata ice cream is optional.
1290 F St., San Diego, (619) 542-9155. lola55.com
Churro doughnut: The Corner Drafthouse, Bankers Hill
Chef Ruben Zamarripa has taken the traditional Mexican-style churros he grew up and twisted it into a churro doughnut. Rather than a crispy ribbed pastry strip, Zamarippa has reinvented the churros in a ring shape that’s rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla ice cream and a cinnamon glaze. 495 Laurel St., San Diego. (619) 255-2631. thecornerdrafthouse.com
Churro bagel: Spill the Beans coffeehouse, Gaslamp Quarter
For the month of May only, pastry chef Karina Orozco has created a churro bagel. It’s a chewy California-style bagel coated in cinnamon sugar and paired with dulce de leche cream cheese. 555 Market St., San Diego, (619) 233-3836. spillthebeanssd.com
Churro waffle sticks: Madison on Park, University Heights
For weekend brunch, Madison bakes fresh waffles, cut them into strips, then coats them in cinnamon sugar and serves them with maple cream cheese sauce, jalapeño-blackberry jam and fresh fruit. This summer it will also be available a la mode with Churro Bites ice cream from Mutual Friend Ice Cream in Normal Heights. 4622 Park Blvd., San Diego. (619) 269-6566. madisononpark.com
Churro waffle ice cream sandwich: Local Eatery & Drinking Hole, Downtown San Diego
This neighborhood pub takes fresh-baked Belgian waffles and dredges them in cinnamon sugar, then pairs them with ice cream for a decadent ice cream sandwich. 1065 Fourth Ave., San Diego. (619) 231-4447. thelocalsandiego.com
Churro pancakes: Breakfast Republic, multiple locations
This fast-growing San Diego brunch chain aims for decadence with its creative menu items. Three pancakes are cooked to order and dusted with cinnamon sugar, with pure maple syrup available by request. For locations, visit breakfastrepublic.com
Churro French toast: Viewpoint Brewing, Del Mar
A new edition to this brewery-restaurant overlooking the San Elijo Lagoon is this brunch-only creation of brioche French toast topped with cinnamon sugar and served with Mexican chocolate sauce. 2201 San Dieguito Drive, Del Mar. (858) 356-9346. viewpointbrewing.com
Churros and ice cream: Salud, multiple locations
Three fresh-baked churro sticks are served with generous scoops of vanilla ice cream in a parfait glass and topped with caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar sprinkles. For locations, visit saludsd.com
Gourmet churros: The Blind Burro, Downtown San Diego
Blind Burro takes churros up a notch with this gourmet variety. Cinnamon water is used to make the dough, which intensifies the flavor of the finished pastry, which is served with a crème anglaise sauce, slow-cooked from milk, cream, vanilla bean, sugar and egg yolks. 639 J St., San Diego. (619) 795-7880. theblindburro.com
Costco, multiple locations: A churro roundup isn’t complete without the cheapest churro deal in town. Costco stores have long offered a jumbo, twisted churro for just $1. But the pre-cooked snacks can sit under a heat lamp for hours, giving them a bready, dry consistency. They’re best when fresh-fried. costco.com
Traditional Tijuana-style churros
Churros El Tigre: Considered the best churros stand in all of South County, this popular booth at Las Americas Premium Outlets serves fresh-cooked churros in snack and meal-size portions, a family tray of 20 mini-churros with sauce, and in an ice cream
sundae. Be sure to order a side of El Tigre’s ultra-thick cajeta. And on weekends, prepare for a wait. 4211 Camino de la Plaza, San Diego. (619) 867-2915. churroseltigre.com
The Taco Stand: This San Diego-born chain aims to re-create the Tijuana taqueria experience, including its popular and inexpensive roadside churros. The three-churro order is cooked-to-order and served up hot for about $3.50. Multiple locations, letstaco.com
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