In director Cameron Crowe’s 2000 movie, “Almost Famous,” the San Diego native shot one scene of dialog in downtown’s Sun Café.
The greasy spoon was located at 421 Market Street. It recently was bought and converted into Funky Garcia’s Mexican Eatery & Bar. If Crowe contemplates a sequel to his movie, don’t expect him to return here -- it’s one of the most 180-degree renovations you could imagine.
The new design is an absolute upgrade, even though low-cost food remains a link between Funky Garcia’s and the Sun Café of yore. Owners Moji and Alfredo Sadighian also opted to keep the SUN CAFÉ sign on the exterior wall as an homage to the old landmark.
Inside it’s all about south-of-the-border ambiance. There are tequila half-barrels on the ceiling serving as light shades; the walls are decorated with maracas, serapes and Mexican landscapes; and there’s a mustachioed, sombrero-wearing cartoon character -- the inimitable Funky Garcia -- stenciled in various poses around the room. He looks like he’s sampled all 82 of the tequilas served here.
The Sadighians own four restaurants in Tijuana and have run downtown San Diego’s Tabule eatery for a year.
“Funky Garcia’s has sort of a Senor Frog’s theme,” Moji said.
She said that the Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream flavor had nothing to do with their name choice.
Funky Garcia’s -- which recently hosted John Campbell’s 92101 Happy Hour mixer -- is serving lunch and dinner seven days a week. The kitchen is open until 3 a.m. every night except Sunday (when it shuts down at midnight).
Most burritos are $4.99; tacos are $2.99. For now, happy hour is 3-7 p.m. every day, with half off all drinks.
Funky Garcia’s exudes a high-concept lowbrow atmosphere. The quirkiest aspect I found: The men’s room toilet, which offers privacy via a semitranslucent blue shower curtain. Now, that’s funky.
Ron Donoho is a regular contributor to NBCSandiego.com and a contributing editor to sandiego.com. His Web site (sandiegoDTOWN.com) is dedicated to news, sports, culture, happy hours and all things downtown.