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“Over-rated” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Fidel's

Fidel's
607 Valley Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075
(858) 755-5292
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Ranked #13 of 71 Restaurants in Solana Beach
Price range: $14 - $35
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Phoenix AZ
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
“Over-rated”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2013

We have vacationed in the area for years but have never been to Fidel's so my wife and I decided to give the place a try around 6 PM on a Tuesday evening in August. We read about the restaurant's history and popularity so we anticipated an above average, authentic Mexican cuisine. After our dining experience, we concluded that Fidel's is simply over-rated.

We arrived to an almost full parking lot. Actually, a mob scene. People were filing in in droves, large families with crying kids in tow and/or bored teens glued to their cell phone screens, young couples, old couples, large groups, small groups. The restaurant itself appeared nearly full. The pre-requisite Mexican music was blasting at the entrance- way louder than it had to be unless you were trying to do a Saturday Night Live parody of a Mexican restaurant. A flock of frenzied hostesses were greeting and seating people, and a small army of servers and busboys were sprinting about the multiple rooms. The noise level was more conducive to a ball game rather than a restaurant. Was this the only restaurant in town??

A tiny bowl of salsa and a small bowl of flavorless chips appeared at our table. To picture the salsa- think watery ketchup with a shot of hot sauce. The chips were dry and bland. Our server took our order and about 25 minutes later a over-worked food runner (who gets what?) brought our order, a super sized quesadilla and a chimichanga. Our conclusion: decent Mexican food but definitely nothing special.

Average size portions, minimal seasoning, and prices about $2 per dish more than you would expect for this type of restaurant. (I noticed that the fajitas on the menu were priced at $17). The chicken inside our dinners was obviously the pre-cooked "heat and eat" kind that restaurants buy in bulk. Unfortunately, my chicken was not heated sufficiently. Again, probably the result of an overwhelmed kitchen trying to keep up with the volume.

Having experienced a number of excellent Mexican restaurants both in the US and Mexico, Fidel's comes up short in both atmosphere and food quality. When you are grinding out many hundreds, if not a thousand dinners a night, compromises must be made in the kitchen and it shows. A recent review stated that eating at Fidel's was just like being in Mexico. I would say more like eating at fast food restaurant inside a very busy Walmart in Mexico.

If you aren't turned off by the noisy crowds, and you're willing to settle for basic Mexican food with minimal seasoning, and you don't mind paying a few bucks more than it's probably worth, go ahead and eat at Fidel's. Will we put it on our list of favorite restaurants in the area? Probably not.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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143 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
PADOVA
Top Contributor
114 reviews 114 reviews
86 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“Noisy, big portions, decent quality”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 14, 2013

The title tells it all. The place is quite big and usually crowded especially saturday and sunday evening. Families, kids running around waiters hurrying with big plates are the normality. The menu is huge and three pages long, maybe too long and actually at the end most of the dishes are similar with the same components. Portions are really big , even the appetizers can be used as a main, so plan carefully not to order too much. Nachos are decent, fajita is good enough and so on. Don't expect anything special, price is reasonable.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Scottsdale,AZ
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Delicious Mexican food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2013

Fidel's was recommended by several people and it did not disappoint. Traditional Mexican restaurant, quite large and busy, but we were seated right away on a Thursday night. .
Everyone in our party of five enjoyed their dinners, and I am all ready to return soon.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
“Try the fideo soup!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 7, 2013

My friend introduced me to Fidel's when I first moved to Southern California 14 years ago and it's still the gold standard for Mexican food for me. I always get the fantastic fideo soup, and their carne asada is quite tasty. It's a fun place to bring visiting guests from other parts of the country to experience.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Ventura, CA
Top Contributor
84 reviews 84 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 55 cities Reviews in 55 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“A tasty treat”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

Fidel's has seating on several floors including a covered below street level courtyard. Go early if you want courtyard seating. nicely decorated & they had a small Mariachi band to serenade us. The portions were large which suited me just fine. Not just large but they didn't spare the meat. My favorite was the rellano which was delicious with a thick tasty batter. Prices were reasonable & week days there is an early bird special. Plan to go & stay a while at beautiful Salono Beach.

Visited June 2013
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