Santee La Salsa Closes Its Doors

The La Salsa Mexican food restaurant in the Trolley Square shopping center is no longer open for business.

You can still make out the outline of the sign over the trolley tracks at the Trolley Square shopping center in Santee a day after reports of moving trucks, four large "closed" signs and the removal of the sign showed up on Twitter.

Reports of La Salsa's closing came on Friday. It is unclear when exactly, and for what reasons, it closed its doors.

Business Update: The signs of the have been covered by a black banner that reads "Santee has been waiting for this ..." There is no indication what "this" is going to be, but we're looking into it. If you have any information, let us know.

Update: Since there are a number of restaurants with "Panda" in the name, we want to make clear that it is the Panda Garden Chinese Buffet at 70 Town Center Pkwy. that is closed.

sluggo January 30, 2011 at 03:47 PM
I thought the sign meant Santee has been waiting for the Panda Express to close. Anyway, it's too small for a theater, which is one of the things we're all waiting for.
Melonie January 30, 2011 at 07:39 PM
What bugs me is the whole strip where Panda Garden was located still has vacant office space. The same for the Riverwalk business complex, the building that now houses the Urgent Care, the space by Henry's and others. There should be some sort of stipulation that developers can't build more strips until a certain percentage of current buildings are leased. How about the Italian place in Henry's mall that's "opening soon"? What, in 2020? All a sign of the economy, I guess.
Kim Cook January 30, 2011 at 11:51 PM
We were VERY sad to see the Panda Garden Buffet Close. BUMMER!! We really liked that place! Now where will we go for good Chinese Food that is local???
Phil Owens January 31, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Kim, Have you tried Panda Country? It's been in Santee forever - a couple doors down from L&L.
Phil Owens January 31, 2011 at 12:19 AM
I didn't think La Salsa's food was worth the price. Our family has joked about doing a burrito safari, sampling every taco shop in Santee. My go to burrito is chicken fajita (with bacon) at Cotijas (Fanita and Mission Gorge). What's yours?
Jeff Holz January 31, 2011 at 01:08 AM
The building that has the Pasta Moto banner now also has a construction company banner on it. I'm guessing their finally going to get started on the inside.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 31, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Had a pretty good breakfast burrito from Albertos. We plan on doing a Santee burrito roundup soon! Would love to know your opinion of the best one in town.
Cynthia Robertson January 31, 2011 at 08:05 AM
Sad to see Cold Stone and Panda Express go, and La Salsa, too, although I always thought that particular La Salsa was very unappealing, cold, too big, and way over-priced. Hhhmmm....someone mentioned a movie theater? I think that's what Santee could use!
Ellen McGuire January 31, 2011 at 10:57 AM
Several people have refered to the closed Panda Garden as Panda Express...Panda Express is NOT closed! I'm afraid they might be, if that error doesn't get corrected! As far as LaSalsa goes,we were really sad to see it go. The food there was always good,the employees friendly & personally our bill was always cheaper there than at Rubios. As far as taco shops go Cotija is our "go to",but I have to say calorie wise ,I was better off at LaSalsa with a grilled chicken item than my 5 rolled taco at Cotija! LOL
Terry Klinker January 31, 2011 at 03:22 PM
I think the best "fast" Mexican food in San Diego is from Casadore's. It puts the product that LaSalsa had to shame. Everything is prepared fresh at Casadore's, they have a drive through lane, and their prices are competitive. Casadore's is located in the mall with the new Henry's and Starbucks. It's also where the new Italian place, Pasto Moto is being built, after financing and permit issues slowed the process. The owners are from San Francisco, and this is going to be their first restaurant outside the Bay Area .
Dennis January 31, 2011 at 09:29 PM
Yes, they appear to be working on Pasta Moto again, between Henry's and Walgreen's. From their website it looks like an good place to eat. I feel that when developers are allowed to build strip malls, such as the one in Jamul where there Jamul Marketplace used to be, and Filippi's - that should be required to keep the leases reasonable to enable quality tenants. In other words, they should not be allowed to let them develop into eyesores with ton's of shuttered businesses because they refuse to lease the buildings at a reasonable price. The community should not enable these situations!
Melonie January 31, 2011 at 09:48 PM
@Dennis: AGREED! Adds to the concrete jungle. Maybe a subject for Van Collinsworth and the original Representatives behind the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Act. It's stated as follows: "During the first years of the program, emphasis will necessarily be on planning and land acquisition activities. It is important that acquisition be undertaken before the land becomes unavailable either because of skyrocketing prices, or because it has been preempted for other uses." Maybe there is something in there regarding land already obtained and how it's managed. Glad to hear Pasta Moto is is having activity again.
Traci Iliff January 31, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Maybe it's going to be Outback!!
sarah January 31, 2011 at 10:11 PM
love outback!! We really liked la Salsa, sorry to see it go. Didn't go to the other places. Still, upsetting that so many businesses are closing. A friend of mine said it best, Santee town center shopping center was not designed well. people go there because they have to, not because they want to spend a fun day shopping and eating. We go to parkway plaza or grossmont for that.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 31, 2011 at 10:13 PM
Good point Sarah. Why do you think Trolley Square isn't as shopper friendly... too spaced out?
Phil Owens January 31, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Agree with Sarah. And if you travel around the more recently developed cities in SoCal (desert cities) you find nearly identical shopping centers - places of necessity and/or convenience but without a real entertainment draw. Once upon a time there was a theater where Vons is now; but I understand that theaters are not good tax generators for the city. Still our town center is an enormous improvement over the Santee of 25 years ago. This is a good place to live. Steve, there is another Panda Country restaurant in the same strip with L&L and Michael's Grill; it's been in Santee for probably 30 years. Have you reviewed it yet?
Jerry Clanton January 31, 2011 at 11:11 PM
In my opinion, the Trolley Square was not built to accommodate "casual shopping". There is no convenient way to circle the shopping center, or should I say, strip mall. Having said that, I'm glad it's there (although traffic is still a huge issue). It offers in-town food and shopping selections, when going to Grossmont mall or Parkway Plaza is not close enough.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) January 31, 2011 at 11:15 PM
Haven't reviewed it yet, but it's going on my list of places we need to cover. February will be a month of many new features, including a renewed focus on restaurant reviews!
Peter Anderson February 01, 2011 at 03:18 AM
The correct name for the buffet that closed is Panda GARDEN, not Country Steve. Honestly, I think having 3 Chinese restaurants in town with the name Panda in them may have led to the buffet's demise. I enjoyed the buffet, although it's sister in El Cajon (New Century Buffet near Coco's) is better.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) February 01, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Dang it! Got it right up to that point. I deleted that comment so no one's confused. "Yes, let's make this clear. Panda GARDEN Chinese Buffet has closed, not Panda Express, reapeat: Panda Express at Trolley Square is still open for business!" Hope that clarifies it for everyone, I have added notices to each article.
snipe69 February 01, 2011 at 06:47 PM
I hope we don't get a theater...we get enough weird people hanging around because of the trolley, if we add movies. They will just stay longer!
Ellen McGuire February 02, 2011 at 07:51 AM
Steven- I love shopping at Trolley Square. It's convenient,has a good selection of stores & there is pretty good parking. How does anyone over the age of 15 have time to be a "mall rat"? The days of wandering around the mall are over! The main use for an enclosed mall now,is for the mall walkers to get out of the heat. I suppose they serve their purpose in the parts of the country that are snowed in...but they can't even get out of the house to go to one! This is the reason store like Kohls are not located in enclosed malls...they are designed for shoppers to get in & out without wasting time wandering half down the mall just to get a pair of socks. In Gilbert,AZ (suburban Phoenix) Macy's even has a store built in a Power Center (the name for shopping centers like Trolley Square). It is a busy,beautiful store & a pleasure to shop in! Macy's was going to build more stores like this last time I spoke to anyone at that store (05/10).
Dionna February 02, 2011 at 05:32 PM
I think there are two problems with the Trolley Square: layout and substance. When you're standing at one end of the plaza, a sea of vehicles divides you from the stores at the other end. It really isn't that far to walk, but visually, it isn't an enticing trek to make. Add to that the trolley dissecting the plaza, essentially creating two separate shopping centers (again, not a far walk, but visually discouraging). Think about the types of establishments in the center. They're an odd mix of "get in, get out" stores, function-based businesses and discount/chain retail stores. The first two types of establishments are likely destinations for people who are just there to do what they need to do, get what they need to get and move on. The discount/chain retail stores are huge, impersonal and lack any real draw. Bottom line is that the Trolley Square is a retail mecca. It exists so that people can shop, and spending an afternoon shopping is low on the budget-friendly list of entertainment options these days. I love having it nearby, as I do much of my necessity shopping there, but I don't see it as a place to go with friends and family as a destination itself. Give us more than retail and restaurants and maybe that will change.
Hillary Gardner March 16, 2011 at 04:33 AM
I was sad to see La Salsa go, however I found the manager incredibly rude and unhelpful in numerous situations. I still stick to Casadorez and Cotijas :) I am pretty happy that panda buffet is gone though... I felt so greasy every time we ate there. I doubt they'll put a theater... probably another restaurant. A theater would be awesome though


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