Review: Maggie’s Café in San Diego delivers a tantalizing mixture of Mexican-American breakfast and bar fare

Carnitas Skillet with Eggs Sunny Side Up. Photo by Jay Keyes.

For the past 5 years, Maggie’s in Serra Mesa has been my #1 favorite breakfast spot in San Diego.

I am thrilled to finally submit a well-overdue review for this solid neighborhood restaurant specializing in Mexican-American cuisine and… WAIT, did he write Mexican-American? Yes, he did! Like you, I once assumed Maggie’s was an Irish pub. I have since learned that Maggie’s is owned and run by Tijuana native David Granda who named Maggie’s after his mother Margarita who sold tamales on the streets of Barrio Logan.

Inspired by his mother’s love of cooking, Mr. Granda grew up in the San Diego restaurant industry, eventually spending 15 years at TGI Friday’s in management roles. Having worked for a restaurant chain when I was younger, I can attest to the processes, training, and standard operating procedures in place that help ensure customers receive a consistent and reliable experience. This approach is evident at Maggie’s, as I have come to expect the same level of service each time I dine-in regardless of the server, and the dishes I have ordered come out of the kitchen looking and tasting identical each time.

My favorite breakfast dish from Maggie’s is their South of the Border Benedict. Other San Diego restaurants have less successfully attempted to do a variation of a Mexican-inspired eggs benedict dish; Maggie’s is the best by far. The Mexican elements include a salty and piquant thin chorizo patty, fresh avocado, and smoky chipotle hollandaise. Somehow this still tastes like an eggs benedict, while also tasting like you would want a much spicier and smokier version. Maggie’s breakfast potatoes on the side are perhaps the crispiest and most delightful home fries available locally. The well-seasoned potatoes alone are reason enough to have breakfast here.

South of the Border Benedict: toasted English muffin, chorizo patty, avocado, two poached eggs, chipotle hollandaise, with Maggie’s potatoes and pineapple. Photo by Jay Keyes.

Greasy spoon staples such as breakfast steaks, egg dishes, and pancakes also are well-executed by the kitchen, typically with an unexpected but welcome twist. For example, the gravy on the Country Fried Steak and Eggs incorporates hearty chunks of grilled pork sausage. Mexican breakfasts offered include chilaquiles, machaca con huevos, and omelets stuffed with chile relleno or carne asada. As with their American counterparts on the menu, all of these breakfast dishes have surpassed my expectations. Maggie’s Carnitas Skillet is a sleeper hit on my to-be published list of San Diego’s best carnitas. Here, the crispy-edged shredded pork is stir-fried on the plancha with bell peppers, onions, and served with eggs and salsa.

Country Fried Steak and Eggs: fried beef steak in housemade sausage gravy, Maggie’s potatoes, two sunny-side up eggs. Photo by Jay Keyes.

By evening, Maggie’s transforms from a diner into a sports bar, serving burgers, tortas, tacos, grilled seafood, and bar bites such as chicken wings and pretzel puffs (con queso, of course). The “scene” changes, but the quality of food doesn’t. I can’t tell if Maggie’s simply hires really good cooks, or if their processes are solid enough for it to not matter, but whatever they’re doing with regards to their kitchen is working, as I’ve yet to experience a serious misstep despite dozens of visits and dozens more delivery experiences.

Cheeseburger Sliders: beef sliders with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce. Photo by Jay Keyes.

My infatuation with Maggie’s began by ordering delivery for several years before I actually set food in their restaurant. As delivery goes, the Carnitas Skillet and South of the Border Benedict hold up surprisingly well, as have all of the meals I’ve ordered from here over the years. The incredible level of detail to the delivery packaging aspect of their operation makes Maggie’s a great restaurant for the COVID-19 pandemic. I don’t know about all of you, but I am very much “over” cooking complete nutritious meals for my family right now. My family hasn’t left our property since the pandemic began except for medical reasons, so nearly everything we eat has been home-cooked since mid-March. At this point, I have days where I don’t want to cook and clean-up afterwards; I simply want to order greasy, delicious food in disposable containers and be done with it. Maggie’s gets it done.

Carnitas Taco. Photo by Jay Keyes.

Due to Maggie’s success in sleepy Serra Mesa, the Grandas have opened up a second Maggie’s restaurant in Barrio Logan. Whether they’ll make it or not in that highly-competitive neighborhood remains to be seen, but if the food and service are similar to what one can encounter here, they should do well.

Food/Décor/Service: 4.4/3.8/4.2

Taco Scores: Carnitas Taco (80)

Jay Recommends: South of the Border Benedict, Carnitas Skillet, Torta Oaxaqueña, Cheeseburger Sliders

Maggie’s Café – Serra Mesa Location3232 Greyling Dr, San Diego, CA 90213; Monday through Saturday from 7:30am-8:00pm, Sunday from 7:30am-3:00pm; (858) 430-6755;

Torta Oaxaqueña: Torta Oaxaquena- milanesa, carnitas, jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, avocado, chipotle mayo, served with sweet potato fries. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Maggie’s Chilaquiles: housemade corn tortilla chips, salsa roja, onion, cilantro, cotija cheese, sour cream, Maggie’s potatoes, refried beans, sunny side up eggs. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Flat Iron Steak and Eggs: 8 oz. flat iron steak and two eggs sunny side-up, served with Maggie’s potatoes and toast. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Classic Burger: Angus chuck beef patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickle spear, French Fries. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Buttermilk Pancakes- two golden brown pancakes, served, scrambled eggs, bacon. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Chile Relleno Omelette: 3 cage-free eggs, poblano pepper, cheese, salsa roja, crema, Maggie’s potatoes, toast. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Broccoli and Cheese Soup. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Pretzel Puffs: pretzel balls, housemade beer cheese jalapeño sauce, pico de gallo, bacon. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Coffee at Bar. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Maggie’s Dining Room. Photo by Jay Keyes.
Maggie’s Café in Serra Mesa neighborhood of San Diego. Photo by Jay Keyes.