El Sonorense ...

Olga De la Ree (right) with her son Luis Romo chat while working at their restaurant El Sonorense which opened last month.

A new family owned restaurant has taken over the former Verandina space and many locals have already tried its Mexican seafood specialties. On a recent Friday the new restaurant El Sonorense had many customers enjoying lunch.

The restaurant has been open since Feb. 15 and has a good vibe with its light blue colored walls, white chairs and the overall feeling of openness with striking views of the beach and pier. Olga de la Ree, who owns El Sonorense with her husband Luis Romo, was at the restaurant with her son, also named Luis Romo.

The couple started in the food business with a food truck in Mexicali after they were married 20 years ago. De la Ree is from Sonora and her husband from Mexicali. They decided to call their business El Sonorense which means “a person hailing from Sonora.” After the food truck was successful, the couple opened a restaurant on the food truck site and more restaurants followed after that. They have used the same concept, name and menu for all their restaurants which now number four.

De La Ree said that in addition to their restaurants in Mexico she and her husband wanted to open one on the U.S. side and had actually picked a location in Point Loma. “Two days before signing [the paperwork] we came here and liked this location more, and it’s near the beach. I didn’t know Imperial Beach before. I liked it. When I shared it with my family they liked it too,” she said.

One of the things De la Ree enjoys about the restaurant business is talking to customers. “I like to see clients happy with their food…I like to know they thought it was good,” she said.

De la Ree is spending a lot of time at the restaurant in Imperial Beach these days to make sure the operation runs smoothly. De la Ree’s other restaurants have large rooms used which are used for parties, and she plans on doing the same thing with the location in Imperial Beach with the upstairs room which offers great views of the beach and the pier.

De la Ree said lunch and dinner are the busiest times at El Sonorense but breakfast is becoming popular. Breakfast dishes include Chorizos con Huevos, Omelettes, Eggs, and Chilaquiles. Breakfast dishes range from $ 7 to $10.

El Sonorense offers a variety of tacos ($4 to $8.50) on the menu with choices of shrimp, chicken, surf and turf, and carnitas. One of them is Taco Sonorense, made with octopus and shrimp cooked with green and red pepper. Burritos can be had with choices of fish, shrimp, surf and turf or steak.

The menu also includes a number of seafood cocktails. For example, Campechana ($13) is a combination of shrimp, octopus, squid, scallops and oysters with tomato, onion, cucumber, avocado, lemon and shrimp juice. Specialties are Molcajete a la Vizcaina ($16) which features shrimp, octopus, with red and green pepper, tomato, onion, avocado, cheese, and nopal on a bed on a bed of rice. Molcajete de Fajitas Carne y Pollo ($16) has the same ingredients as A La Vizcaina, but features steak and chicken instead of seafood.

Entrees include Enchilada Suizas, shredded chicken rolled in corn tortilla topped with cheese, green sauce, sour cream served with rice and beans ($13). Churros, Chimi Sinorense and Chocolate Cake, Ice Cream, Malteds and Shaved Ice are the desserts choices.

De la Ree stressed that all the dishes are made on site including salsas and desserts. “Our food is made with good quality ingredients and it’s delicious,” she said. De la Ree plans on having more dishes on the menu in the following weeks.

The restaurant offers an array of cocktails, beers on tap and wine. El Sonorense has specials everyday. For example on Wednesdays and Fridays some dishes are 50 percent off.

De la Ree said many of her customers at lunch time come from work to eat at her restaurant. Many come from National City, Chula Vista and Coronado.

Friends Cynthia Meza and Valerie Dominguez were sharing a grapefruit and tequila drink called Cazuelita and chips and salsa while they waited for their entrees. It was their first time trying the restaurant but they already liked it. “The drinks are delicious, it has a nice ambience,” said Dominguez.

El Sonorense, 710 Seacoast Drive. Call (619) 271-6795 or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page. Hours: Everyday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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