I will be the first to admit that my habit of not venturing out of the neighborhood to explore the plethora of Mexican food options in the area is a bad one. Friends and trusted foodies have been mentioning Bety’s for years, so I finally stopped in on a recent Saturday and Sunday afternoon and can now say that Bety’s will be a part of my Mexican food mix moving forward.
It’s a family affair at Bety’s with her son Luis and sister Nancy helping to run the show. Bety started out with a small stand attached to a grocery store in Vista before moving to her current Encinitas location in 1998. It’s become not just a local, but regional favorite since then with customers who visit from all over San Diego County on a regular basis.
The cuisine stays very true to the family’s Mexico City roots, with very authentic ingredients and dishes, some of which were new to me that I had to check out. First up was the papa con chorizo Pambaso, which had potatoes and Mexican sausage between lightly fried buns that had what appeared to be a red chile sauce. To say this was hearty would be an understatement. But besides its hunger satisfying nature, this is a tasty sandwich with plenty of kick. Next up on my new adventures in Mexican cuisine was the carne adobada huaraches. This flavorful marinated pork on a type of flatbread would be a great way to start a meal with a group.
When the subject of authentic Mexican soup comes up, the conversation always points towards La Especial Norte. Note to readers: Please put Bety’s on your list, very high on your list, as a must-try for authentic Mexican soup. I’d go as far as to say that Bety’s soups are as good or better than any in the area and have cracked my top three places for soup list. The Caldo Tlalpeno with chicken, garbanzo beans, avocado, rice, chicken leg and thigh, and a smoky chipotle chile was a hearty, healing, delicious meal in a bowl. I’ve never come across a full chicken leg and thigh in a bowl of soup and it was amazing. I believe white meat is an option also but I preferred the flavor and moistness of the dark meat. There was a bit of smoky kick to the broth and a spoon full of broth, chicken, garbanzo beans and rice made me very happy. This is one of the best soups I’ve ever had.
Another soup to add to my favorites list is the pozole. Filled with plentiful, melt-in-your-mouth tender chunks of pork and white corn hominy and served in a red broth, this was another incredible soup experience. We kept going back and forth, from bowl to bowl in a crazed soup frenzy, dipping the fresh warm tortillas into both the caldo tlalpeno and pozole. For those of you who have not tried Mexican soup when fighting a cold or a hangover, they are natural remedies for both … or simply a nice way to warm up on a “cold” Southern California winter day.
So enough of my high praise of Bety’s soups. There is a full menu to discover including a fish taco that ranks right up there with the best around. I managed to squeeze one in a la carta during my soup frenzy and was impressed by the crispy batter and light, moist red snapper fillet in the center.
There is a nice list of seafood dishes, combination plates, dinner combos, burritos, breakfast combos and some lunch specials that look like great values at $7.95. There is also a nice variety of a la carta items and side orders.
Mexican Coke is my choice of beverage but Bety’s offers a full range of other Mexican beverages including a hot chocolate that I will try on my next visit. A nice selection of Mexican beer is also an option to consider.
So while there is not a shortage of Mexican food options around, Bety’s is definitely in the upper echelon of authenticity, quality, flavor and friendly service.
Bety’s is tucked away in the shopping center behind 7-Eleven at 1464 Encinitas Boulevard just East of El Camino Real. They have a nice courtyard to enjoy and plenty of parking. Check them out at betystraditionalmexicanfood.com, or call (760) 632-1512.
Coast News Lick the Plate columnist David Boylan is celebrating 10 years and 500 columns with the Coast News in 2019! His feature covers the ever expanding North County culinary scene that includes restaurants, culinary personalities, trends, observations, tributes and his popular takeover column where area businesses, bands or teams contribute to the column. Lick the Plate has also been a popular radio show for the past eight years in San Diego on 100.7 KFMB, and on stations in Detroit, Michigan, Windsor Ontario and Traverse City, Michigan. Besides the column and radio show, David runs Tatonka Digital & Analog, a boutique marketing agency headquartered in Oceanside, California. Reach him with show suggestions at email@example.com or www.lick-the-plate.com