Cotija´s Cocina Mexicana

Over 40 Years Traditional Mexican Food


In 1961 Cotija’s founder, David Ruiz, came to the United States from Mexico in pursuit of the American dream. He came here legally under the Bracero Program to work in the cotton fields in Arizona. Like his Father, David was a baker back home. In the late 1960s, he took a job in San Diego as a cook at a restaurant called Azteca Mexican Food. He worked three jobs in order to save enough money to open his first restaurant in June of 1974 in Point Loma. He named the business “Cotija’s” after his home town of Cotija, Michoacán in Mexico. Success did not come easily, as David initially struggled with very low sales and could not afford to hire employees. At that time, there was very little demand for Mexican food.

The food industry was primarily comprised of pizzas and hamburgers. With the help of his wife Dolores, David used generations of family recipes to create a menu for Cotija’s. With faith and perseverance, the business eventually prospered. David then helped family members with their start in the business, and Cotija’s grew to over thirty locations in San Diego. Over time many of the relatives started their own chains with their children under various brands. Currently all Cotija´s restaurants in San Diego are exclusive owned by family members.