Admittedly, this isn’t the best restaurant in terms of food or ambience. I say: GO ANYWAY!
It’s the only place in the South Bay that serves Chinese food for the Mexican palette. It also has been around for over 30 years in Chula Vista. The place is iconic, located across the street from Otay Farms and along Main Street in the heart of what used to be lemon groves.
To see and see again. Or, as my photographer friend Maria Teresa Fernandez always tells me: “There’s beauty in everything. You just have to see it.”
Seen from eyes and palettes of those who want to go beyond the conventional or upscale gourmet, this restaurant is amazing. Most importantly, Arizona Chinese Restaurant represents the historic past of Chinese influence upon Mexican culture that we can experience in our border town.
Manuel Ruiz first owned this restaurant in Tijuana 45 years ago. His partner was Chinese and together they had a successful business, but his partner passed away, leaving Ruiz to run this restaurant alone. The kitchen staff is both Chinese and Mexican. If you don’t know the history of the Chinese in the border region, start off by reading my post on Mexicali.
Then, to understand the history a bit better, at Arizona’s you can taste it. The poultry, seafood, pork and beef are all “Cantonese Style”. They’ve got beef egg rolls and many soups. They serve no chop stix. They also serve tea in cups with handles and have a little bowl of limes on the side. Their family menus include excellent fried rice and fried rice with shrimp. I’d highly recommend those dishes, alongside the sweet-n-sour chicken wings — their signature dish.
A diner-style dive, the prices are so reasonable that you’ll overlook the worn sign outside. Inside, everything is clean and smells good (that’s a MUST for me). The menu includes all the Chinese comfort foods that Mexicans and Americans on both sides of the border enjoy: Foo Young, Chow Mein, Lo Mein and Chop Suey.
For the Mexican palette that enjoys Chinese, you’ll want to try the Shark Fin soup or the Duck Won Ton soup for sure. The BBQ pork items are just the way they make it in Mexicali.
Address: 2650 Main Street, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Prices are incredibly reasonable. Foo Youngs, Chop Suey and Chow Meins run between $7 to $11. The family dinners range from $9.50 to $13.75 and you won’t be able to finish the plates.