Popular Mexican restaurant under new management

Vanessa Gomez

City students and staff don’t have to go far to get tasty Mexican treats. La Casita, located on C street right across the street from City College, has offered an extensive menu of inexpensive Mexican fare and family-owned for over 25 years. The restaurant also recently changed ownership, and plans to carry on the tradition.

Teresa Contreras, La Casita’s newest owner, took over the reigns of this City College staple after the last owner, Maria Navarro, decided it was time to retire. Navarro handpicked Contreras and her husband to take over her bright blue restaurant. Even though there might be a change in ownership, Contreras intends on making that the only change for a while.

“I didn’t want to change anything,” commented Contreras. “I tell everyone the only change is that it’s me behind the counter now. Everything is the same; the ingredients, the flavors. If you look around ‘La Casita,’ you can see all our pictures and the history of this place.”

Contreras kept her crew at La Casita small, with only four employees total. On the grill is Francisco Rodrigues, who has worked at La Casita for a total of 15 years. Her assistant cook, Angelica, also helps Contreras with making deliveries and taking orders.

“Our business consists of downtown deliveries to high school and City College students,” continues Contreras. “We also offer party facilities and cater events.”

In addition to La Casita, Contreras and her husband are co-owners at Antojitos El Comal Restaurant in Chula Vista, offering a family style restaurant with table service. “We started this about a year ago, so when Maria came to us, I told my husband, ‘We can’t take on another place.'” Maria laughs. “But when students that came to eat here years ago come in to say that now their kids eat here, you realize that there really is a lot of history here.”

La Casita offers combination plates with rice and beans, moderately priced around $6 and a full assortment of tacos, tortas, burritos and tostadas. Contreras is still getting used to the prices on the menu, but said that the California chimichanga ($4.99) and carne asada burrito ($4.25) are easy to remember as “they are definitely customer favorites.” La Casita also offers a fresh salsa bar, numerous choices of Mexican candy, and an outdoor seating patio that can accommodate larger groups.

Contreras says she definitely feels the economy crunch and does admit “business has been slower. We usually get a lunch rush and a lot of students visiting us at 2 p.m.” She is enthusiastic that low prices and the history of La Casita will keep the students coming.