Pics inside Old Town San Diego’s restaurant museum.

A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.
A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.

There are dozens of cool things to see in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I’ve barely scratched the surface so far with my blog.

For example, there’s a small free museum right next to the central Plaza de Las Armas called Commercial Restaurant. A rather dull name, but a very interesting place jam-packed with history!

The small recreated restaurant shows what life was like in the mid 1800s, back when San Diego was downright tiny. The Commercial Restaurant is comprised of two rooms: one contains the dining area, the other, the kitchen. Originally called the Casa de Machado y Silvas, the house was built by José Manuel Machado and given as a wedding gift to his daughter María Antonia, and her husband, José Antonio Nicasio Silvas. The simple adobe building was converted into a modest restaurant by its owners in the early 1850s. Today it stands as one of the five historic adobes in Old Town San Diego.

I’ve provided a bit more info in the photo captions!

Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, later renamed Antonia Restaurant.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, then later renamed Antonia Restaurant.
Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.
Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.
The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.
The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.
Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city's history.
Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city’s history.

In the mid 1800’s, when New England travelers arrived by ship to Old Town, they sought out a dining establishment serving meals like they would find at home, including stews, soups, crackers, bread and cow’s milk. Over the years, exposure to native Kumeyaay cooking influenced the European diet and became integrated into the region’s cuisine.

As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.
As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.
Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.
Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.
Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.
Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.
It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe's window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.
It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe’s window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.

Historical documents discovered by archeologists hidden in the Casa de Machado y Silvas shed light on the life of San Diego resident Allen B. Light. He was also know as the “Black Steward”. Allen arrived in California during the 1830s, aboard the sailing ship Pilgrim, the same vessel that brought Richard Henry Dana Jr. who would later write Two Years Before the Mast.

One document was “a sailor’s protection”, which proclaimed Light was a “coloured man, a free man, and a citizen of the United States of America”. The second document was his commission from the Mexican Governor of Alta California to investigate illegal sea otter hunting along the coast.

A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.
A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.
A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town's Commercial Restaurant museum.
A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town’s Commercial Restaurant museum.

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Richard Schulte

Downtown San Diego has been my home for many years. My online activities reflect my love for writing, blogging, walking and photography.

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