You have a craving for Mexican food—the only problem is, it’s past midnight. While you may think you’re out of luck, you can find delicious satisfaction at Vallarta Express, where a wide-ranging menu of Mexican favorites is served around the clock.

This 24-hour eatery at Grossmont Center is well known for generous portions of its savory dishes. Tacos and burritos are filled to bursting, and combo plates are hearty meals. Other featured menu items include tortas, tostadas, enchiladas, chimichangas, taquitos, and quesadillas. There are traditional varieties such as chicken, carnitas, shredded beef, carne asada, fish and veggie. But Vallarta Express goes beyond that with further options. The Quesaburrito’s secret weapon is crispy cheese, while the Buffalo Tacos feature lightly breaded chicken. For lighter appetites, there is the refreshing Caesar Pepita Salad and the Vallarta Bowl, the latter of which contains beans, rice, avocado, salsa fresca, cotija cheese and a choice of steak or chicken. All of these options give customers a lot of choices—and the incentive to order more than one thing!

“We have something on our menu for everyone,” says owner Aldo Espinaldo. “We are happy to help customize your order, which means we can give you extra sour cream or make something without cheese. It is all about what the customer wants and serving them a great meal.”

Another thing Vallarta Express is known for is the extensive breakfast menu. One of the more popular menu items is the breakfast burrito, which comes in quite a few flavors, such as Huevo Ranchero, Steak ‘n’ Egg, and Chorizo. Other great options include the breakfast sandwich and the breakfast plates, such as omelets and other egg dishes like Huevos Divorciados, which consists of two eggs over easy, one topped with red sauce and one with green sauce, over corn tortillas. Order one for a tasty start for your morning (or as a breakfast burrito midnight snack)!

You can accompany your meal with any number of sides, including the light and crunchy chips, yummy black beans, or a serving of creamy guacamole. Also worth trying are the Super Nachos and Super Fries, both of which are piled high with beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese and a choice of steak or chicken. (Some regulars ask for Christian Fries, which are Super Fries with an over-easy egg and bacon added to the mix.)

Whatever you order, a visit to the salsa bar is a must. Customers rave about the flavors of the red, orange, and green sauces, while the chunky pico de gallo adds a bright burst of fresh flavor to any meal. (Added bonus—the tapered ladles make for easy pouring!) Of course, when you bring the heat with the salsas, that means you have to order a cool drink to wash it down. In addition to the regular fountain drinks, Vallarta Express also offers sweet and frothy horchata and the agua fresca-style tamarindo and jamaica. Adults will enjoy the selection of beers, which includes Sculpin and Modelo Especial.

When it comes to ambiance, Vallarta Express is more than a typical fast-casual restaurant. The abundance of warm natural woods and cream-colored walls with Mexican tile accents creates a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere that is enhanced by the restaurant’s cleanliness. There is also a nice outdoor patio complete with a TV hanging in one corner, so you can watch a game while you eat. If you are eating on the run, that is no problem at Vallarta Express thanks to its drive-through service.

Vallarta Express is a great example of what can happen when you to choose to buy local when dining out. This homegrown mini-empire has three other San Diego locations in addition to the one at Grossmont Center. Its success has come by giving customers tasty Mexican food and good customer service. The owners know the area well and have carved out a niche for Vallarta Express in the local Mexican food scene. The restaurant has become a go-to for many people when they want some great food, served quickly.

This success also helps the local economy by creating jobs, contracting with regional vendors, and contributing sales tax revenue for the city. The “Shop Local” tenants at Grossmont Center are a valuable part of the La Mesa economy, and we are proud to host so many of them here. The next time you come to the Center, taste what shopping local is all about and visit Vallarta Express, where you can get your Mexican food fix day or night!

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