El Vitral Restaurant and Tequila Lounge enjoys a good location downtown, near Petco Park, Harbor Drive and the Gaslamp District. It has a pleasant atmosphere inside, too, with soft ambient light filtered through the stained glass behind the bar, and a rich, dark interior that invites intimate conversation and hard drinking alike. But what it really has, what it offers that sets it apart from the many many other Mexican restaurants in the area, is tequila.
Two hundred and fifty tequilas or more is what they advertise. Looking at the rows and rows of tequilas behind the bar, it’s easy to believe. In fact, they offer so many tequilas, and are thus situated as such experts on the subject, that they offer the city’s only $300 margarita–mixed with the very top end of ingredients.
For those of us less inclined to spend three figures on a cocktail, they also offer a bi-weekly Tequila 101 seminar. Every first and third Thursday of the month, El Vitral offers a tequila seminar for $30, which covers the cost of the class, a 3-shot flight of tequila samples, and a three course meal, as well as a certificate of completion so you can have evidence of all that you learned–without learning it the hard way.
Aside from a pretty spot and a wide variety of tequilas, though, El Vitral is a common enough place. The food is pretty standard elevated-Mexican–meaning more squash blossom quesadillas and pulled pork tacos, less cheese enchiladas and carne asada burritos. The guacamole is disappointing, and speaks to the general problem with El Vitral’s food: it’s just not as interesting as it thinks it is. It’s fine, but for the price, it should be better–more flavor, more interest, less filler.
So, at the end of the day, the best idea is to stop in for lunch on a day when you can have a cocktail, or stop in for the much more reasonably priced dishes on offer at happy hour. The bar really isn’t to be missed, there are tequilas and margaritas available to tickle any palate, and at the reduced prices of lunch or happy hour, the food is at least good enough to give you an excuse to visit that bar. Oh, that bar.
El Vitral Restaurant and Tequila Lounge
- 815 J Street
- (619) 236-9420
- Lunch 11-3 daily (brunch on Sat/Sun)
- Dinner 4-10 daily, 4-12 Fri/Sat
- Happy Hour 4-7 p.m. Mon-Fri
- Call to reserve space in Tequila 101
- Lunch prices–$30-50 for 2, with 1 drink each
- Dinner–$60-100 for 2, with drinks