• pokez: best. mexican food. ever.

    April 25th, 2011quarrygirlmore restaurants (not LA), san diego

    if you don’t have a reason to make the drive from LA to san diego anytime soon, you certainly will after reading this post. the beach city is one of our favorite long weekend getaways, and it’s not because of the gorgeous weather or relaxing scenery. nope, we make the 2.5 hour drive for one thing and one thing only: dinner at pokez.

    at first glance, the shabby little mexican restaurant doesn’t appear to be anything special–just your typical dive in a college town with scrappy decor and a heavily tattooed waitstaff. one look at the menu though, and you can see that this place is a godsend for herbivores. pokez serves classic style mexican fare, but without all the chicken stock and lard that we’ve come to expect at “good” mexican restaurants. in fact, the menu is highly vegetarian-friendly and all options that can be made vegan are marked with a “v” symbol. not to mention, the food is insanely cheap and the portions are massive. what more do i require?

    our first visit to pokez was about a year ago, and to say it was the best mexican meal of our lives would be an understatement. we returned this weekend with uber-high expectations, which i’m happy to say were exceeded…

    we arrived at around 8pm on a saturday and started with a basket of complimentary chips to munch on while we decided what to order. if a mexican restaurant can be graded on the quality of its free chips and salsa, pokez would receive an A+. light and crispy with the perfect amount of oil, these corn chips were still hot when they arrived at the table. and as you can see in the picture above, we wasted no time inhaling the fresh salsa. by the time i could bust my camera out to take a snap, it was almost all gone.

    vegan tofu chimichanga: a flour tortilla, deep fried and loaded with beans, tofu and onions. topped with guacamole and salsa. $5.50

    since we don’t get down to san diego often, we decided to let loose and have a full on feast. pokez doesn’t offer appetizers, so got an entree each, plus one to share. scandalous! we started with the most horribly unhealthy and delicious sounding thing of all—the vegan tofu chimichanga. good god, what a beast.

    the chimichanga (be sure you specify vegan) is basically a massive burrito shoved full of tofu and vegetables, then deep fried to an oily crisp and topped with salsa and guacamole. this is quite possibly the best thing i’ve eaten to date. everything from seasoned tofu inside the burrito, to the crunchy flour tortilla shell, to the generous mount of rich guacamole—it was all perfect.

    vegan tofu, potato, and mushroom burrito. $5.25

    for his individual entree, my husband ordered the vegan burrito with the tofu, potato, and mushroom filling. this is exactly the same thing he had on our first visit, and he loved it so much, he just couldn’t resist getting it again. for no extra charge, pokez will serve the burrito wet style—smothered in the most incredible tomatoey sauce. it’s only $5.25, but this thing probably weighs about 2 pounds and could feed a couple people. like everything at pokez, the quality of this burrito is insane. soft tofu that’s been seasoned and browned, deep flavorful mushrooms and fat steamy potatoes, all mixed up with vegan beans and crisp vegetables. why is there nothing like this in los angeles?

    tom's deep plate (vegan): beans, rice, guacamole, salsa fresca and corn or flour tortilas. $5.25

    for my entree, i opted for tom’s deep plate prepared vegan-style—a large portion of beans, rice, guacamole, salad, and salsa fresca served with corn tortillas. this was awesome because i enjoy playing with my food, and this dish gave me the opportunity to make my own tacos. plus, i got to taste and enjoy each component individually. i don’t know how pokez makes their beans and rice taste so authentic without the use of animal products, but it’s pretty damn amazing. plus, the menu claims that the rice and beans are low fat as well…the mind boggles! as you can see on the right side of the photograph, when our waiter noticed how much we were enjoying the salsa, he supplied us with a full bowl of it. ah yes, that’s my kind of service!

    overall, there’s absolutely nothing not to like about pokez. the atmosphere is chill, the portions are gigantic, the menu is super vegan-friendly, and most importantly, the food is incredible. even my husband who isn’t a fan of mexican cuisine in general, is head over heels for pokez. in fact, it was his idea to make the 2 and a half hour trek just to eat there.

    trust me: take a mini vacation, book a hotel in san diego, and eat at pokez as many times as you can. your life will be forever changed.

    947 E Street
    San Diego, CA 92101-6511
    (619) 702-7160
    Mon-Fri 10 am – 9 pm
    Sat-Sun 9 am – 9 pm

    protip: we enjoy staying at the courtyard marriot downtown, which is a short walk away from pokez.

    protip #2: for all you adventurous types, this would make for a great tie in with the stone vegan pairings trip. my advice would be to spend one night in escondido and hit up the vegan beer dinner, then head down to san diego the next day for a meal at pokez.

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35 responses to “pokez: best. mexican food. ever.” RSS icon

  • i want that chimichanga soooooooooo baaaaaaaad!!

  • the potato flautas here are my absolute favorite thing

  • ’twas your tweet that inspired us!

  • Damn I love Pokez.

    That chimichanga looks gigantic and delicious!

  • Oh MY, I would love to try that Tom’s Deep Plate! And how WONDERFUL that Pokez is not an Overpriced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Great to see reports on San Diego restaurants!!!!

  • This looks amazing!
    And so cheap!
    Mmm I’m having mexican tonight!

  • when i used to live in SD this was the absolute BEST place to eat. hands down. the vegan chorizo is quite possibly the best burrito on the planet, and i don’t think quarry is exaggerating when she says she’d drive 2.5 hours just to eat there. it’s worth it. trust me. and the way they cook the tofu is out of this world. it’s funny because it’s the shadiset looking establishment i’ve ever seen and the people who work there are cool, but act intentionally surly, but that’s what makes the place so great! i’m glad you’re endorsing this place!

  • I could not disagree with you more. Granted, I’ve only been to Pokez once…but when I was there a couple weeks ago I really didn’t like it. The food was identical to the fare you get when you veganize menu items at traditional Mexican restaurants…which is fine–that is always tasty…but it’s nothing to rave about. My (mexican) bf disliked Pokez even more than I did. It didn’t help that our service was truly terrible.

    I would definitely go back there, especially because SD doesn’t have too many other vegan options. But I don’t get the fuss people make over this place.

  • Pokez was a major highlight of my trip to San Diego a couple years ago.

  • what??????!! nooo!

  • If Hugo’s Tacos fried their burritos, they’d be chimichangas, right?


    Dear Hugos…. 😉

  • it’s the best fucking think.

    we need to get a party bus, mr. meaner agrees!

    SD adventure!

  • pokez is hands down one of the best places for food in San Diego – I ate there every monday for 2 years.

    Monday Night Pokez Crew for Life!

    for the money and the quality there is no better options in SD period.

    as far as other mexican restaurants in LA, sweet lord they suck compared to pokez. not even close!

  • seconded!

  • I agree that what’s scandalous is how hard it is to find vegetarian Mexican food in LA.

  • So true! It’s kinda funny that Truly, a THAI restaurant, makes outstanding guacamole, which is ONE of the reasons we call them frequently for delivery! Are there any vegan/vegetarian MEXICAN restaurants in Hollywood/West Hollywood to call for delivery?! Not a one!

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Never heard of this place, glad it was mentioned.
    Those photos look so good.

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Yea, it’s a bit odd, vegan breakfasts and vegan Mexican are way harder to find than you’d ever expect in LA.

  • Holy guacamole! This place looks good enough to make the trip from Oregon!

  • i have to say, being a mexican and a vegan, there’s no vegetarian mexican food in LA because mexican food is not vegetarian. if it’s not cut out of a cow’s stomach and fried in chicken juice it cannot be considered authentic. it just isn’t mexican food. however, those beans and rice look shockingly like my grandmother’s so i may be forced to give this a try despite my highly skeptical nature.

  • Wasn’t all that jazzed about Pokez. It was ok, but I don’t remember it being too life-changing. I’m a harsh critic of Mexican food, though, and unfortunately what ktmo said rings true – it’s tough to find something “authentic”-tasting and still vegan.

  • Good to know there is an alternative to Ranchos Cocina (which has restaurants in North Park and Pt. Loma) and is tasty and inexpensive as well.

  • DUDE i totally ate at pokez back in 2007,when i was just a wee one on the veg train.HOLY HECK their food is so good.i’m excited they made it on to your blog.i may also have to make the 2.5hr trip for that tofu/mushroom/potato burrito…

  • The first and only time I ate there, I was served plain tofu and rice even though I ordered a supposedly spicy dish and still had indigestion for weeks. Of all the places, I am shocked that this one is recommended. Although you hate Real Food Daily, and I love that place, so I guess we just have very different tastes

  • for the record, i don’t hate RFD! they probably have the best nachos and vegan club in town. mr. meaner, the other writer on this blog, isn’t a fan though…

  • I’ve only been to Pokez once but the torta was good. My only complaint is the lack of Mexicoke (at a Mexican restaurant mere miles from the border??). Some friends from San Francisco joined us and when everyone went home they named Pokez as the best taco spot in San Diego on their podcast.

  • Ok. Ok! I’ll try it. To think I drove to LA on thursday to check out the vegan options there and I’ve never been here. It’s just that it looked a bit seedy, but if you love it, I’m there…

    I did go to Ranchos Cucina on Saturday for a great vegan Mexican meal. I’m curious if you’ve ever been here?

    Thanks for your blog quarrygirl!

  • We ordered from Truly again last night, and the guacamole was outstanding, as usual!

  • Pokez and Ranchos are my fav mexican places in San Diego. You also can’t go wrong with Sipz Asian Fusion and Evolution Fast Food (their faux chck and vegan ranch is AMAZING!).

  • And I think I’ve read that they have at least one Loving Hut in San Diego now! Wish we had one in Hollywood or West Hollywood! So good that the number of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in San Diego is increasing! And next time we go there, we’ll rent a car so that we can GET to them all!

  • i love pokez! amazing food, big portions, great price, decent service.

  • The service sucks and on several occasions they “accidentally” put cheese in my food. Go to Sipz.

    BTW Vegan foodies- your gas guzzling adventures to eat sub-par veggie mexican food counter any environmental benefit that living a vegan-lifestyle creates.

  • good thing i’m a vegan for the animals and not the environment. whew!

  • I can’t refrain from looking back again and again at that scrumptious-looking Tom’s Deep Plate and its reasonable PRICE! Plus you get the chips and salsa for free, right?! Let me just yell out, “HOORAY FOR POKEZ FOR NOT BEING AN OVERPRICED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  • Holy crap that’s some good lookin’ food at some insanely low prices. I’d be fat as a hog if the were located near me.

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