An eatery re-opening today in Barrio Logan is making news for its connection to the area’s history. Housed in a narrow, 600-square-foot trolley car that once transported riders along the street that it now sits on, El Carrito restaurant has existed on Logan Avenue since the 1940s; the family who owns the property are descendants of Al Johnston, an early Barrio Logan community leader, and the eatery has served as a neighborhood gathering place throughout its long tenure.
El Carrito’s new proprietors are Carolina Santana and Milo Lorenzana, who have refreshed the trolley car to mint condition, want to continue the restaurant’s tradition as a local meeting hub. Native San Diegans, Santana and Lorenzana were part of the original team behind the 2015 launch of Logan Avenue standout Salud Tacos, and opened popular coffee house Por Vida down the block the same year. Santana’s parents, Luis and Sandra, are partners in the restaurant; with Sandra contributing her own recipes to the menu.
The all-day offerings feature classic Mexican breakfasts, ranging from huevos rancheros and eggs with pork machaca to five variations on chilaquiles that can be topped with carne asada, soyrizo, shrimp, and more. There are also build-your-own omelettes, pancakes, and on weekends, menudo served with hand-pressed tortillas. Lunch options include tortas, burritos, sopes, and tostadas. The coffee pros will also brew up café de olla, a spiced and sweetened traditional coffee drink.
El Carrito is currently open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, although the restaurant will eventually expand to dinner service, serving small tapas-like bites as well as micheladas and sangria. And additional patio seating should be available in the next month.