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San Diego’s Legendary Tony Tee Drops By the Pod

The food truck owner and former party promoter stops in to talk tacos, tortas, and increasing Latino representation in tennis
Corazon de Torta San Mexican food truck specializing in tacos and tortas located in North Park, San Diego and founded by El Tony Tee
Courtesy of Corazon de Torta

To know the illustrious Tony Tee, real name Antonio Ley, is to love him. The Chula Vista-born-and-bred, man-about-town has appeared in popular shows, like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Vice News, and he even had a brief career as a politico after he got his law degree in Tijuana. 

These days, the former party promoter is running a food truck parked in North Park at Fall Brewing. Called Corazon de Torta, it specializes in guisados, and is a local favorite. It’s half of the reason we brought him on Happy Half Hour this week. 

The second reason? Ley recently started a tennis league in South Bay aimed at increasing Latino representation in the sport and we had the opportunity to feature his work in our February 2024 issue.

Mexican taco food truck Corazon de Torta featuring founder El Tony Tee aka Antonio Ley located in North Park, San Diego
Courtesy of Corazon de Torta

Hardly an athletic guy until recently, Ley has come to love playing tennis and diving into a more athletic life. “I went into diabetic ketoacidosis one day, landed myself in the hospital, and realized I had to change my life,” he says. 

At the time, he was a new father who knew things needed to change, so he lost a ton of weight, quit boozing so much, and kick-started an athletic routine. He began playing tennis when he had an idea.

“There was a void in the Latino tennis community,” Ley says. “[Latinos] are half of California, but, as far as I know, we have one guy, Emilio Nava, who is on the tour representing us. Pro tennis has serious Mexican and Mexican-American representation problems. It’s an accessibility problem.”

Courtesy of Club Raquetas

To help close the gap, Ley founded the hard-court club, called Club Raquetas, in 2022, intending to introduce more Latinos to the sport. He’s the perfect spokesperson, mainly because it took him some time to get into tennis himself. Also, because he’s got a big mouth and he’s not afraid to use it.

Longtime San Diegans might remember seeing a more heavyset, still boisterous Tee leading Bourdain around Tijuana in a pink limousine. They also might remember the professional Mexican basketball team he founded, called the Tijuana Zonkeys, which made Tee a convicted felon (long story). They also might have crossed paths with him during his 15 years as a club promoter south of the border. However you know him, whether it’s tennis, tacos, or Tijuana, Tony Tee is a San Diego legend. 

In addition to catching up with Tony, we also talked the news: beleaguered brewery Eppig Brewing will open its newest location in downtown, next to Petco Park in the former Stone location; Roman Wolves opened in Little Italy from the Rusticucina folks; Common Theory will open in South Bay this month; Coop’s BBQ is looking for some financial love; and Nat Diego just announced its summer dates (June 28 & 29).

And if you’re around this weekend, come join us for our Taste of South Bay event on Sunday, February 25. There will be birria, short rib ramen, guisados, Chamangos, drinks, entertainment and Troy likely dressed in a very loud t-shirt.

By Jackie Bryant

Jackie is San Diego Magazine's content strategist. Prior to that, she was its managing editor. Before her SDM career, she was a long-time freelance journalist covering cannabis, food/restaurants, travel, labor, wine, spirits, arts & culture, design, and other topics.

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