Oct. 12 2015 05:51 PM
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Las Cuatros Milpas
Photo by Joshua Emerson Smith

Perhaps you've thought about eating at Las Cuatro Milpas (1857 Logan Ave.) in Barrio Logan but saw the line out the door and reconsidered. You wouldn't be alone. I live down the street from this San Diego fixture and only recently decided to brave the ever-present line.

As it turns out, it's totes worth it. While street parking is tough—and don't forget it's cash only—the line actually moves quickly as patrons shuffle through the cafeteria-style process. The menu is small-but-scrumptious, offering traditional Mexican tacos, tamales and burritos, as well as beans and rice with optional chorizo. Most notable are the handmade flour or corn tortillas. How good can a tortilla be, you ask? It's nearly impossible to explain, but the phrase "mind-blowing" pops into my head.

"We don't have no secrets; we just have work," says Margarita Hernandez, the oldest of five daughters who run the restaurant established by their great grandparents in 1933. "It has to be handmade and cooked by the girls."

The restaurant, named after an old Mexican folk song about (you guessed it, four cornfields), has endured many decades, expanding modestly to accommodate several dozen large tables spread throughout multiple rooms. The ambiance feels like you're in the Hernandez family's kitchen, and seating arrangements promote conviviality, even when eating next to strangers.

At 68, Hernandez says she still loves coming to work and serving their diverse and dedicated clientele. However, all of the Hernandez family's next generation has gone to school and moved on to other careers. So how long will Las Cuatro Milpas go on?

"We don't know," Hernandez says. "As long as we can work, we'll work it."

The restaurant opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m., and the line starts forming about 15 minutes before the door unlocks. This is one of San Diego's most authentic experiences. Get it while it lasts.

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