Hernandez Hideaway San Diego- A Closer Look

By  | 

The quaint Mexican restaurant hidden by Lake Hodges off the Del Dios Highway has been a North County escape for years.

Originally, the building which Hernandez Hideaway occupies was a stage coach stop, and even rumored to have a brothel nearly one hundred years ago. The building was built around the same time that the Lake Hodges dam was constructed. When you step into the restaurant and local watering hole you can observe the original architecture which is still intact. The building has also been used for religious purposes in the past, but was finally turned into the Mexican restaurant we know and love in 1972.

Hernandez Hideaway credits itself as the arguable inventor of the margarita. No, not the slushy kind – the real kind – on the rocks. If you visit Hernandez you can enjoy one of their famous margaritas which are known for being very strong. If the drink fits your fancy they even sell the special Hernandez Hideaway Margarita Mix you can take home with you.

The restaurant is nestled in the Lake Hodges area and serves as a meeting place for many local groups and friends. On a Saturday afternoon you wouldn’t be surprised to find Harley Davidson’s lined up in the dirt parking lot across from the restaurant. Alternatively, you could also expect to walk into Hernandez and see families enjoying special time together.

Reviews of the menu and service at Hernandez Hideaway is a mixed bag. Some love it, others… not so much. They get a top rating for their fajitas, tamales and fish dishes. When you order a combo you are served a Mexican cole slaw that is made with Apple Vinegar, fresh cabbage and a few other simple ingredients including sugar. The cole slaw recipe is a delicious and healthy snack that is free of Mayo. Others say their beans, salsa and guacamole are amazing.

Their menu is traditional and there is something for every Mexican diner’s pallet. If you’re looking for something trendy, this place is not for you. They maintain their old school vibe and locals are friendly and unpretentious. The main issue with diners seems to be the service. Based on a thorough review of their Yelp page, it seems that there tend to be long wait times and some servers are less than friendly. However, those that love it – LOVE IT.

Hernandez Hideaway is a great place to stop after you finish a hike around Lake Hodges. With access to the San Dieguito River Trail and North Shore Lake Hodges Triail just across the street, it’s a great place, off the beaten path, to try out. If you do, come on back here and share how you liked it.

In terms of history, the restaurant does live in infamy nowadays because of its connection to the devastating tragedy, the murder of Chelsea King. John Gardener III was arrested at Hernandez Hideaway for the murder of Chelsea King on Sunday, Feburary 28, 2010. San Diegan’s have enjoyed the surrounding areas of Lake Hodges with their families for years. The death of Chelsea King has shed light on the fact that the wide open spaces are not to be enjoyed alone. If you ask us, hiking with a group of some friends or family, followed by dinner at Hernandez Hideaway, sounds like a great way to spend a day in San Diego.

Location: 19320 Lake Dr, Escondido, CA 92029

I am the project manager for Epsori Business Solutions, I assist in managing the San Diego Entertainer website. San Diego is my city, and I absolutely am enthused about The Entertainer being brought back to life in an easy to use digital format.


  1. Linda

    March 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I ate in this fun place just a few months ago with 2 girlfriends who graduated high school with me in OHIO back in 1967. They now reside in the area and know the King family. They kept me abreast of all that had happened and it is SUCH a tragedy. It breaks my heart to think that this disgusting perpetrator was caught in this lovely hillside restaurant where we had such a fun lunch together that day. I will keep the King family in my prayers even though I’ve never met them. So very sad and it appears it might have been preventable.

  2. Jim Burns

    April 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Is it true that many bright people did their school home-work by candle lite at this restaurant,

    while their parents were enjoying the food & fine Margaritas?

    Thank you for the fine article.


  3. george w. morgan

    January 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Some of San Diego County’s finest musicians used to gather on Wend. to play. They were treated so poorly by the bartenders and waiter they all left. If you’re looking for live music, Hernandez is NOT the place. They have a horrible reputation among the music community in San Diego. They treat musicians like dirt..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :