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Best Taco Shops In San Diego...

As the title suggests, I'm looking for the best taco shops in San Diego. By taco shop I mean a mexican food place that isn't a full-scale sit-down restaurant, but rather a grab-n-go mexican food place, not to say that there also can't be seating and service, but the emphasis is on the food, not the atmosphere, service, or other aspects that are often considered when evaluating restaurants. In particular, I'm looking for the taco shops that have the best Carnitas, Carne Asada, and California burritos. Also Carne Asada Fries. Thanks in advance for your input.

EDIT: As requested, and to further narrow down the scope of recommendations, I'm looking for taco shops anywhere within the area from La Jolla to Santee (West to East) and as far south as Downtown. Use this map for reference: http://www.sandiego.gov/neighborhoods...

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  1. Any particular part of town? There are so many, it would be helpful to know if you're talking about S. Bay, Downtown/Midtown, East County or North County.

    1. I can tell you now everyone has a favorite dive taco shop in their own neighborhood or in the neighborhood where they work. Help us narrow it down for you or this thread will go on forever. Seriously. It will diverge into taco trucks and then get detailed into whether the California Burrito is made with fries or hash browns. It would be easier to take out the phone book, go to mapquest and start driving.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cathy

        SENOR EL TAQUERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Ive been down to mexico and visited alot of taco shops and its like these tacos came straight from mexico....
        for once i don't have to go to mexico to enjoy a authentic taco!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        its on broadway between 4Th and 5TH ave.
        and the best thing about this taco shop is that they are open till 3am from thurs-sat. so after im done hanging out with my friends we can go thier to eat!!!!!!!!!!!

      2. Google "mmm-yoso". It is a blog. Left column has divisions of Taco Shops, Taco Trucks, Mexican Food. It blogs about food and not at all about atmosphere. Lots of East County including Santee (and actually as far east as Yuma).

        1. Okay, here's what Cathy was talking about. It's not a taco shop per se, and it's slightly out of your target area, but for excellent carnitas check out Carnitas Uruapan in Lemon Grove. Or the Sunday farmers market on Imperial Ave just off the I-5

          6 Replies
          1. re: DiningDiva

            I went to Carnitas Uruapan for takeout a week or so ago, and I hate to say it but I was really disappointed. The meat was kind of dried out and extremely salty. The guacamole didn't have much flavor, and the beans, salsa and tortillas were fine, but nothing to write home about. I really wanted to like this place - it's very affordable, the people are nice and it's close to my house (and I love the pig collection) - but I would have a hard time going back after this experience. Do you think it's a fluke?

            1. re: Alice Q

              Major fluke. Did you get the meal for 2? We have done take out once and I do remember saying it wasn't the same, but I thought it is because they bring it all out to you on a turkey platter and that is part of it.

              1. re: Cathy

                We did - it was so disappointing b/c I really was excited to try it. It was kind of late (about 8 PM) so maybe that had something to do with it.

                1. re: Alice Q

                  Maybe. But still it should not have been so dry (or were those the crispy burned pieces? The meat is fried in lard..) or overly salty. It is a good kind of salty. Both Uruapan and El Porvenir, those are my standards of perfect carnitas and beans.

                  I think I will stop by for a taco or something this week, just to see if something has changed. Thanks for a reason...

                  1. re: Alice Q

                    Proably also depended on what cut of meat they gave you

                2. re: Alice Q

                  I completely agree with your observations. The one time I took the time to drive out to Lemon Grove for this place, my carnitas were extremely dry and salty. The tortillas etc. were mediocre.

                  If I could make a suggestion, I would suggest Carnitas Las Michoacanas.

                  Their carnitas is the juiciest and tastiest that I have come across in San Diego. This isn't a fancy place at all-- paper plates, plastic silverware-- although they do sell the carnitas by the pound if you just want to grab and go. Usually while I'm there, I'll see at least one person buying 5 - 10 lbs of carnitas for a get together.

                  Carnitas Las Michoacanas
                  6187 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92115

              2. The best fish tacos in san diego can be found at the South Beach bar and Grill in Ocean Beach. It's all the way at the end of Newport St. nearest the pier. Absolutely the best I've ever tasted.

                5 Replies
                1. re: BionicPimp

                  I loved their fish tacos as well, the variety of choices is great

                  Although I have to say that the fish tacos at Bety's in Encinitas are outstanding

                  1. re: BionicPimp

                    The best fish tacos in the greater san diego area are -no question- at the El Taco Nazo outpost in Temecula. Next time you are there eat a taco and have a revelation that there is indeed something 'chow-worthy' in this town

                    1. re: BionicPimp

                      South Beach tacos are crazy good. Great bar atmosphere. Several kinds of fish tacos, cheap.

                        1. re: BionicPimp

                          I can not agree with you more. I live over the hill from this place and I try to go there as much as possible. The Mahi Taco is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Actually, the carne is not bad either, but if you were to go there and try one taco, it has to be the Mahi.

                        2. Hmm. . .good question. . .first, remember that speaking ill of someone's favorite taco shop is "fightin' words" as far as San Diegans go. That said, I think Valentino's on 9th and Market deserve some attention here -- I am particularly enamored with their California Burrito. Mexican Fiesta generally sucks (they use sour cream or mayo in their guac), but for some reason their al pastor tacos and burritos are amazing.

                          But to add to the question, rather than just answer it, where do y'all think the best hot red salsa is in town? How about the best Machaca? Best breakfast burrito?

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: jmtreg

                            The best hot red salsa is, IMO, at Quatros Milpas in Barrio Logan. It is like fire. Made with meat (not sure if it's beef or pork), and hence loaded with rich fat, and a little goes a long way. I can nearly make a meal of that and their equally fat-laden flour tortillas, which are fabulous with butter. I've been going there for about 40 years, mostly for their beans, tortillas, and hot sauce. If you plan to dine in, in the Summer it's hot and in the Winter it's cold. I only did that when I worked nearby. When I tried to go vegetarian, I took a break from them. Now that I've decided life's too short to not eat at least a little bit of something really decadent and relatively unhealthy, like meat fat, I'll be going back any day now. Their tacos are good as they use a nice crumbly Mexican cheese--asagio, I think, or maybe it's asadero. If I'm mistaken, I hope someone will correct me, please :)

                            Except for fish or ceviche tacos (homemade), I'm not a big taco fan so I'm glad to read all the other recommendations interspersed here. Benny's used to have the very best shrimp cocktail a few years ago, but they changed chefs and it's now too sweet for my tastes--or was, the last time I was there. I will stop off and try that carne asada burrito. I love burritos, but I'm very picky about the tortillas, and here again, Quatros Milpas outshines them all. It's the lard, baby!

                            1. re: rawfoodie

                              You want great ceviche? La Playita, on Clairmont Mesa, just West of the 805, at Limerick in the Smart N Final Center. In the back of that parking lot. Fresh!

                              1. re: Cathy

                                Thanks Cathy. I don't go up to the mesas very often, but isn't that near 99Ranch? I'm overdue for a venture in that neck of the woods.

                                1. re: rawfoodie

                                  Yep, the other side of 805. Maybe a mile from 99Ranch. It is teensy.

                                  Go to mmm-yoso blog and top left corner, search for La Playita. The menu is posted.

                                  1. re: Cathy

                                    Wowsa Cathy! Great blog! Thank you. And yes, cukes are mandatory in a seafood cocktail, at least to my way of thinking--their juice adds something, too--ever had a cucumber drink? Simplest is to add some to water; next best is add to yogurt and ice--fabulous thirst quencher in Summer; very popular in Afghanistan and other nearby countries where it gets scorchingly hot. Add some dried mint--it's all cooling and healthy.

                                    There is or was a good place on Imperial just East of I-5 in a mall-ish affair, for great seafood cocktails, but they got pricey (compared to Benny's, back then) and I haven't been back there. I guess everything is pricey these days.

                                    It may be antithesis or heretical to snobs or elite, but I've always trusted little ethnic places that cater to folks of immigrant origins--they wouldn't poison their own peeps. Whereas big grocers, importing from, say, China, would, as long as their CEO gets a billion dollar bonus for downsizing U.S. workers. GRRRRRRRR!

                                    Anyway, thanks for the blog link (http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/). It's bookmarked and I'll be visiting often!

                                    1. re: rawfoodie

                                      I love cucumbers with everything, rawfoodie...pretty much all the time have a plate of cukes, tomatoes, green peppers and radishes in the fridge. The drink sounds great; I will try it, soon.

                                      Kirk and ed and Vicky and I love doing the blog; it is just about places we eat and what we think about those foods. Kind of silly sometimes, but also just fun for us to share.

                                      Back to the topic of this thread...I stated it at first-nobody will agree on where the "best" taco shops are because everyone has a favorte they hit whenever they are in a certain area. You can see it by all of these responses.

                                      The first time I go to a new Taco Shop, I get either a quesedilla or a bean and cheese burrito (or both, if I am hungry). If those are done well, I will go back and try other stuff. You would not believe how many places can't do the 'basic' stuff correctly.

                            2. re: jmtreg

                              I have eaten at Luche Libre Taco shop maybe twice and wasn't a big fan, but they have a red bright sauce that may be the most flavorful hotsauce in SD, its not only red there is some lime and serrano and cilantro in there and it isn't blended like the others I think they food process the ingredients and then mix it up. I am generally not a huge fan of the shop, but that salsa has been excellent both times I ate it.

                              Santana's makes an incredible green salsa (the one they give out at the drive through) but it's also in their salsa bar.

                              El Tigre (Northgate markets now?) has an awesome sweeter orange salsa thats especially good on their buche and pork.

                              Rigoberto's has great red sauce.

                              Most everything else I have had has been watery or just not as memorable in San Diego. The salsa at these places has literally been the deciding factor between these and other places before. It's that good....

                            3. Can't believe nobody has mentioned Mama Testas!
                              Terrific place and fairly easy to get to.
                              It's on University, across from the Ralphs in Uptown.

                              Another place worthy of a comment, the fish tacos at Blue Water, on India St, next to I-5. Best fish tacos I have found in town, even better than South Beach bar and Grill in Ocean Beach and they have 5 or 6 Ballast Point brews on tap all the time!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Wino

                                While MT specializes in tacos, I would not consider them a taco shop. Ditto for Blue Water.

                                To me, "taco shop" implies a very particular style of food. MT is too upscale for that designation, and Blue Water the same.

                                I think a true taco shop needs to have the standard items like carne asada burritos, yellow cheese quesadillas, and rolled tacos.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  Depends what you are looking for. If you just want the best fish tacos, then Blue Water is the place, if you are looking for a full service Mexican Food Shop, then obviously it's not the ticket.

                              2. Take the trolley from Downtown and go to Taco's El Gordo in TJ.

                                They make every kind of taco possible, they are increadible.

                                1. Here are some good ones, though not all good for the same things:

                                  Nico's - Morena Blvd by the Valero gas station. Great chicken rolled tacos.

                                  Lalo's - University Ave. catecorner to the Alibi. Good chicken rolled tacos, quesadillas, and some nice salsas.

                                  El Cuervo - Washington St., across from Wienerschnitzel. Great carnitas. The carnitas burrito is awesome, because they dress it with a salsa made from finely chopped spicy carrots.

                                  El Asadero - El Cajon Blvd., a couple blocks west of 70th St. Some of the best carne asada I've eaten in SD. Also great carnitas, al pastor, and barbacoa. They cook the carne on an asador, so it gets a really nice smoky flavor. Al pastor has pineapple. Barbacoa is slow-roasted for hours on end and is falling-apart tender. They make corn tortillas to order for the tacos, and the flour tortillas I think are made there as well, though not sure. Some really good salsas too, also made there. It's very cheap, and has zero atmosphere. Top-notch grub, though. Definitely worth your time.

                                  1. I am a taco shop nut. Know alot of ok ones, a few sucky ones and a few great ones. La Playa Taco shop on Mission Blvd in pacific Beach. You won't be disappointed. 5 to garnet toward the beach. Left on Mission. Three blocks down on the left. Sombreros across from the Kmart near Qualcom is good. La Playa is one of the best I have ever eaten at.

                                    1. Benny's in South Park makes the best carne asade burrito I have ever tasted. It is juicy, filled with carne asada, onions, diced tomatoes, guacamole, and pepper. I enjoyed the juicinest in this burrito and everytime I order it, it tastes exactly the same. For around $3.00-3.50, this is definitely worth your money. Try the shrimp burrito too and wet it with some lemon.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Tacohunter

                                        Two thumbs up for Benny's. The nacho fries with carne asada...*sigh*. Even though I live in Mexico's heartland, I still, from time to time, miss Benny's.

                                        Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                                          1. re: ibstatguy

                                            It the risk of sounding flippant...just south of North Park. Keep going down 30th and you'll get there pretty quickly.

                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                              just wanted to verify that it was on 30th - thx!

                                              1. re: ibstatguy

                                                Is this the place between A and B St on 30th? Driven by this place twice a day for the past seven years and never once checked it out. Guess what I'm having for dinner tonight?

                                                  1. re: ibstatguy

                                                    Well, made it for lunch on Saturday. Had the #7 fish taco combo, my wife had the veggie burrito. Fish tacos were good, really liked the white sauce which had a kick of garlic. Excellent crispy fish as well and tortillas were fresh. Beans were a little bland (needed salt) but the rice was excellent. My wife thought the veggie burrito was "frickin huge" and must've enjoyed it, since when I looked up she had finished it all (quite a feat considering it was bigger than her head). MUCH better than Sombrero's down the street.

                                                    Some other picks:

                                                    El Zarape (has some interesting seafood burritos)

                                                    Pokez (good for vegetarians)

                                                    El Comal (has a new location in North Park)

                                                    Serrano's Super Salsa (best shrimp burritos. Located near Parkway Plaza).

                                        1. Also try out "El Cotixan" in Clairemont Mesa and Genessee. This is a very popular place for the UCSD and college students. Try out their crunchy tacos and carne asada nachos.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Tacohunter

                                            El Cotixan is a pretty tasty place at 2am... much better than a lot of shops open that hour.

                                            1. re: Tacohunter

                                              There is another Cotixan on Linda Vista and Friars rd. Try the Pollo Asada Burrito. Their Horchata (BND) is the best around.

                                            2. might be a strong statement, but the best california burrito is at Super Sergio's on convoy. it's a drive thru place that's open 24 hours and has cars going through all night long. can't speak for anything else on the menu because the california burritos are all i need.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: DoctorQuality

                                                I have many employees that agree with you about Super Sergio's

                                              2. Love the tacos at Gualberto's on Kearny Villa rd next to the Denny's..they food is so good..
                                                Chicken tacos are really good at the Roberto's in Solana Beach..
                                                Tacos at Las Quatro Milpas rock!

                                                Can't wait to try Super Sergio's!

                                                1. Fish tacos, the Brig, hands down. I really like Los Tacos in Oceanside for al pastor. Tacos el gordo is muy bueno. As i recall there is no need to go to TJ as there is one in National City.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: SeanT

                                                    There are actually three Tacos El Gordo in San Diego now and they're good with a wide verity of choices you don't normally find north of the border (Beef eyeball, beef tongue, or cow cheek tacos anyone?) but I find their TJ restaurant is still slightly better. The one big difference is the restaurant in TJ is they lightly brush the corn tortillas with the juice off the al pastor plus they give lots of free extras which cost money north of the border (pickled carrots, grilled onions, sliced radishes, etc...).

                                                    I've never been to Los Tacos in Oceanside but I'll have to give them a try because I love Tacos Al Pastor and they can be hard to find north of the border.

                                                    1. re: oerdin

                                                      You will find at least beef tongue and cow cheek (cabeza ?) quite regular at taco shops in SD. I haven't eaten too many tacos recently but even the little taco shop close to my appartment in Mira Mesa (El Maguey) has them on their menu. And both are quite good.

                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                        Isn't El Maguey at the corner of Black Mountain Rd and Mira Mesa Blvd in the same shopping center as China Chef Szechuan?

                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                          cabeza means head so i think it is brain - maybe KR can confirm

                                                          1. re: foodiechick

                                                            it can be brain too - but usually it is the cheek meet north of the border

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                Thanks KR & DD, I stand corrected and newly educated. My reference came from husband's translation - he went to school in Guadalajara (a lifetime ago) ;-p

                                                      2. THE WORST..EL INDIO India st
                                                        Really gone downhill and got expensive
                                                        Carne asada is all grissle and food served cold
                                                        I gave it a chance 3 times
                                                        Got rude treatment from the management when I complained too :(

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: LarryP

                                                          Agreed on El Indio. Perhaps the feature on Food Network went to their head. They're definitely not all that anymore.

                                                          1. re: BettyBadass

                                                            Food Network is totally worthless. Covering El Indio is proof positive of that.

                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                              I can't believe they actually showed their "chile rellenos" in production.

                                                              First you take this heer block o'cheddar put a stick in it and then yous wraps it in a freshly tinned wet chile. Then git it in yer funnel cake batter and bombs away!

                                                              I mean come on....they must have some courage.

                                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                just a thought, email Food Network and let them know they are a joke...

                                                                1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                  "email Food Network and let them know they are a joke..."
                                                                  hmm, I think Anthony Bourdain has similar sentiments! :-)

                                                                2. re: kare_raisu

                                                                  That's hilarious - I haven't eaten at El Indio since I was a kid - remember when it was really a hole in the wall?? That must have been twenty years ago now. They do still make good chips though, I have to admit.

                                                                  In the East County I really like Sarita's on Campo Road. It varies a little, most taco shops do from time to time. We can tell there are different people in the kitchen depending on how the carne asada burritos are shaped - sometimes short and fat, sometimes long and thinner, but they don't skimp on the guac and they use the good stuff.

                                                                  I also used to like Rolbertos on Adams - serious ghetto atmosphere, but great rolled tacos. Much better than any Robertos.

                                                                  I have to agree with the comments below on El Zarape. I used to really like it, but I don't really think it's anything special now. I also really like Quatros Milpas and I am dying to try El Porvenir.

                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                      I know I know! One of these days - soon.

                                                            2. re: LarryP

                                                              Guayaberto's in Mira Mesa has also gone down hill. They used to be pretty good (not best in the city but cheap and satisfying) but now it's all tough gristle and EVERYTHING costs extra.

                                                            3. "Trujillos" on College Ave (Actually there are two, one near Montezuma and one near University) is one of the best taco shops I've ever been to. The beans, which I think say the most about a taco shop, are delicious. They are all around good w/ there carne, carnitas and pollo... but, if you were to try one thing, I'd go with something pollo and sometyhing w/ beans. I love this place.

                                                              1. Las Quatros Milpas (I hope I spelled that correctly) is in Barrio Logan. It is only open until the early afternoon and there is always a line out of the door. Kind of heavy food, but this place is the real deal. If you are looking for a taco shop that has a lot of bang for the buck, go here. Try the tamales and the chorrizo... it is kind of their specialty.

                                                                1. The best carne asada burritio I have ever tasted comes from "La Fuente" in Hillcrest. It's on University somewhere around 10th, and it's a little yellow cottage-like structure. It's consistently terrific, especially with the hot sauce they give you in that omnipresent little squeeze bottle.

                                                                  And, I second El Zarape in University Heights for really delicious unique burritos. When I first saw the Aloha burrito (teriyaki chicken, pineapple, etc.) I thought it was a cruel joke, but it turns out to be absolutely DELICIOUS. Also, a friend of mine who is a connosieur of the shrimp burrito claims that they make the best one in town.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: alliequack

                                                                    best shrimp burritos are at beach city in cardiff, but el zarape's calamari burrito (without the lettuce) and chile relleno burritos aren't bad

                                                                    1. re: alliequack

                                                                      Overall, I don't care for El Zarape now, not nearly as much as I once did, when I ate there three time a week. These days, the food tastes too "fried."

                                                                      Nevertheless, I would recommend El Zarape's Aloha Burrito to vegetarians, as a good alternative to the heavy bean/rice burrito concoctions.

                                                                      According to the menu, the Aloha Burrito contains ham and carne. But you can ask for TOFU -- wonderful soft tofu -- as a substitute for the meats. Make sure you tell them to leave out *both* meats. If you only say, "leave out the meat" you will still get ham!!

                                                                      Also, there's cheese. So, if you're a vegan, have them leave out the cheese too. Even if you're not a vegan, El Zarape's cheese is plastic and flavorless fat.

                                                                      1. re: notjustastomach

                                                                        I agree that El Zarape isn't as good as it once was. The fish tacos are still just a buck, so we usually get those The salsas seem to be just as good, especially the tomatillo and avocado salsa (light green), which is excellent with the cheap beer-battered fish taco.

                                                                    2. Try JV's in Linda Vista near Brick by Brick. Order the surf-n-turf burrito. You cant go wrong. Their salsa bar is the real deal for taco shop standards.

                                                                      1. Honestly,
                                                                        San Diego is the taco mecca of the U.S. since it is so close to Tijuana. I drive down from L.A. every few weeks just to try out different taco shops (El Cotixan, Benny's, Alaberto's, Saguaro's). It seems like in San Diego, they are always reinventing their menu. A while ago they started this idea of adding seafood to the taco and burritos menu and now they are creating a "California Burrito" where they stuff it with crispy french fries. And a couple of weeks ago, I noticed there's an avocado burrito and it was goooooood...........It's too bad the taco shops up here in L.A. taste like garbage and I literally mean it. The menu is small and most taco shops in L.A. serve the same old crap (traditional tacos (al pastor, carne asada, carnita, pollo) or burritos filled with rice and beans- YUCK!)

                                                                        Well, since you asked, the best taco shops that I would recommend are the ones listed above but I know there are a zillion others in San Diego that are probably just as good. Peace.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Tacohunter

                                                                          Call me crazy, but I really like the same old crap traditional al pastor, carne asada, carnitas, adobada tacos. Here are some other meats I can reccomend you at your shops up north: Buche, suadero, tripa, tripitas, & Chicharron.
                                                                          Are you hunting french fry burritos or tacos?

                                                                          1. re: Tacohunter

                                                                            "and now"?

                                                                            California burritos, as you describe them, have been a part of San Diego taco shop fare for at least 10 years.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              I must say I appreciate the California burrito. My local fave makes their own fries.

                                                                              1. re: SeanT

                                                                                I enjoy them, but can't eat them. They need to be about 1/4 the size.

                                                                          2. There is actually a site that locates a lot of taco shops in San Diego. Its called mybertos.com and its really helpful. I found it on myspace as they requested me as a friend. All you have to do is type in the zip code and it gives you a listing of some taco shops nearby. I love the mexican food in San Diego compared to other taco shops further north you go. Anyways check out the site. Hopefully this will help you out.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Shan Resto

                                                                              so im orginally from Esco but am gonna be downtown in the gaslamp area with my boyfriend, who is from OHIO...yes, he had never heard of a taco shop or carne asada before me. Whenever we come back to SD its all we do to find carne asada nachos, burritos, and Taco Shops!!! Whats some good taco shops in downtown area we an hit up? I mostly just know north county stuff...

                                                                              oh and to throw in my two cents:
                                                                              Juanitas in encinitas is one of mr favs been going for 20 years. The flour rolled taco plate can not be touched.

                                                                              Eventhough its ot a tacoshop-Cocina Del Charro-in Escondido is my favorite mexican restaurant, with the best beans on the planet!

                                                                              I also love the green jalapeno salsa, which is thick, from pacific taco in escondido.

                                                                              for the best carne asada nachos, its that taco shop across from the rollercoaster thats red and yellow and the west side, in mission beach.

                                                                              for the best carne asada quesadilla and well just plain freakin delicious quesadillas in escondido go to what used to be the Starmart (when i lived there), its called Chitos, i ate there last June and it still kicks butt!

                                                                              im drawn a blank. but getting hungry. anyways any tips for downtown/gaslamp pre padres games eats/taco shops would be appreciate.

                                                                                1. re: jilllovesbeans

                                                                                  The best carne asada fries in Esco, in my opinion, is at Antonios. But I dont like it with beans... geez Im getting hungry!!

                                                                                  If youre gonna be in the downtown area, I was gonna say valentines like cathy mentioned. They also have Alambres or Azteca taco shop near petco park.

                                                                                  Like I said my last comment try looking at mybertos.com, just type in whatever info and it'll show you what places are near you. Anyways, Go PADRES!!!

                                                                                  1. re: jilllovesbeans

                                                                                    Good News & Bad.

                                                                                    The Good News is that Mariscos German is relatively close.

                                                                                    The Bad News is that I don't you can eat at a place like that, and go back to the crappy, average SD Taco Shop.

                                                                                    Probably not a bad thing... its probably time for your BF to learn about Taqueria fare versus Taco Shop stuff any way.

                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                      Actually, a lot of the places in Escondido aren't crappy. They're actually pretty good; owned and operated by emmigres.

                                                                                      Go Pads/Go Bolts

                                                                                2. I'm all about Mexican Food... I'm from the Mira Mesa Area and there are a bunch of taco shops in that area. But just recently i visited seaworld and found this one spot called JV's off moreno blvd. I ordered a Cali Burrito and Boom... Good Stuff. they wrap it in its regular paper wrapping and with foil.. which comes in handy because i couldn't finish the thing. even though i wanted to so bad. cool thing is i found that spot on mybertos.com. you should check it out. it pretty much focuses on taco shop in san diego. cool site!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: SeyJones

                                                                                    -Maritzas on Mount Acadia, Clairemont
                                                                                    -El Cotixan on Genesee, Clairemont
                                                                                    -Mission Taco on San Diego Mission Rd, Mission Valley
                                                                                    -Tacos el Gordo in Chula Vista (on H St)
                                                                                    -Julio Don Bravos in Pacific Beach and La Jolla
                                                                                    -La Salsa has great tacos, try the shrimp taco
                                                                                    -Tacos Fiesta in Point Loma or Mission Gorge

                                                                                  2. The best taco shop I have ever been to is Sarita's Taco Shop in Spring Valley on Campo Road. Their carne asada fries and california burritos are amazing. They make their own hot sauce as well. It's definitely a local favorite for everybody in the surrounding communities. I've had pretty much every burrito on the menu and have yet to be disappointed. I currently go to school in another city up north where good mexican food is hard to come by, so I make sure that Sarita's is my first stop when I visit home, even before I make it to my actual house.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: almondjoy1987

                                                                                      How funny - Sarita's is also our favorite, as I mentioned above! It's kind of a mistake to generalize about taco shops (I'm looking at you EN ;-) b/c they do vary a lot. There are far more mediocre/bad ones than good - but there are many in N. County and the occasional one further south that do a pretty good job.

                                                                                    2. The best taco shop I have ever been to (short of my great uncle's taco stand in Hermosillo) is Adalberto's on Rosecrans. Ate there 3+ times a week while I was in college. California Burritos are great, so are the rolled tacos. Carne Asada chips are my favorites. But what set them apart from the rest are the beans, perfect flavor and texture.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: lukenavarro

                                                                                        This is partly due to the absolute fact, go ahead and ask yourself, that Adalbertos uses LARD in their beans. If you're not familiar with the contents of lard, it is pig fat, and most consists of pig back fat. I'm not hating, but for the vegetarians out there beware. It is wise to ask the man behind the counter, and if you don't trust him the chef, what they use in their beans. A lot of toco shops DO use lard, some will not tell you and, in fact, find it funny.

                                                                                        1. re: krexley

                                                                                          Agreed, krexley. After many instances of asking, in espanol, and getting guffaws, I've learned to just assume that the neighborhood taco shop uses lard in their beans.

                                                                                        1. What's with all the buzz about El Zarape? I finally ate there and was very dissapointed. Cotixan is nowhere near being one of the better taco shops in San Diego. Santana's tends to undercook their chicken and could do a much better job of keeping their restaurants clean. Lolita's is not what it used to be.

                                                                                          OK here's what is good:
                                                                                          Tacos El Gordo (on Highland)
                                                                                          Las Quatras Milpas (Logan)
                                                                                          Karinas (Chula Vista)
                                                                                          Vaqueros a.k.a. the Barrel (Encanto)
                                                                                          La Fachada (on 25th)
                                                                                          Tacos El Pansa (City Heights)
                                                                                          Super Cocina (North Park)
                                                                                          Mexican Fiesta (Little Italy)
                                                                                          Pokez (Downtown)
                                                                                          Asadas (Otay)
                                                                                          El Comal (on Imperial)
                                                                                          El Nopal (Encinitas)
                                                                                          Jalapenos (Penasquitos)

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: SD Native

                                                                                            Do not demean Super Cocina by calling it a Taco Shop!

                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                Super Cocina is very intense. Some of the best Mexican food in San Diego. In Encinitas, I think SD Native means "El Nopalito" and you want to stay away during the School Year Weekdays during lunch. Apparently they have figured out they can serve inferior stuff to the high school kids, but other than that, the food is consistently great. I always like their chicken burrito but I've recently started ordering the tacos: fish, puerco and carnitas. All excellent. I just had the fried fish taco at Kotija Jr which was surprisingly great. Right out of the fryer. For non-traditional, you can't beat Bull Taco and the view of the Pacific Ocean at the Cardiff campground certainly helps. I need to get back to Mama Testa for the mashed potato tacos very soon.

                                                                                            1. Tacos El Gordo and Lucha Libre Tacos.
                                                                                              First ione is as authentic as it gets. True to their origins. Only thing is you get your tacos and have to pay, which sucks because the process is unorthodox for a mexican restaurant. You should eat your tacos, standing up, and then tell the cashier what you had.
                                                                                              The Lucha Libre tacos has a much more modern aproach to tacos, without loosing it's authenticity.
                                                                                              Their gourmet selection is good.

                                                                                              1. The Taco Wagon in La Fachada's Parking Lot. Tacos are GREAT. Corn tortillas are handmade (don't know about flour.) The brazier goes all day with help-yourself grilled vegetables and a pot of simmering beans. There's an on-shore breeze sweeping through the sit-down tent. The parking is easy, and it's across the street from the Police Station. Then, when you're finished, pop into La Fachada Fruiteria for one of their amazing Strawberry Cocktails with sweetened crema. My new favorite place in San Diego.

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                  And La Fachada would be where in San Diego?

                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                    Howdy, DD. It's in Barrio Logan, just off Imperial Avenue, south on 25th Street.

                                                                                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                                                                                      Got it, thanks, know exactly where it is :-)

                                                                                                    2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                      More on La Fachada, here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/520593
                                                                                                      Although it does not fit in the mold of the Original Post. It’s not a taco shop, but then again I have noticed an abundance of non Taco Shop places recommended in this post even though the OP requested the best Taco Shop (not best tacos).

                                                                                                      1. re: Masa Assassin

                                                                                                        MA, but it is a Taco Truck, no? I only go to eat at the truck. Or would you call that a remote (or satellite) kitchen? :-)

                                                                                                  2. All the following links are excellent taco shops to visit in the San Diego area.

                                                                                                    Mission Taco Mexican Food
                                                                                                    10443 San Diego Mission Rd, San Diego, CA 92108

                                                                                                    El Cotixan
                                                                                                    4676 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117

                                                                                                    El Taco Rico
                                                                                                    3594 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92113

                                                                                                    Bahia Don Bravo
                                                                                                    909 Grand Ave Ste 7, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                                                                    Maritza's Mexican Food Restaurant
                                                                                                    3582 Mount Acadia Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111

                                                                                                    Los Panchos Taco Shop
                                                                                                    1775 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA

                                                                                                    Taco Fiesta
                                                                                                    4111 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

                                                                                                    Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana
                                                                                                    689 H St, Chula Vista, CA 91910

                                                                                                    1. I have to add Adalbertos on the corner of 25th and Market to the list. Although it may not be the best, it is very consistent and I never leave there dissatisfied.

                                                                                                      1. this maybe an old blog but there isn't a better single taco shop in san diego than Las Cuatro Milpas in barrio logan. someone please call me out if this is not accurate.

                                                                                                        18 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                              I was at a taco shop in San Marcos the other day called 'Senor Pancho' in the Albertson's shopping center on San Marcos blvd on the way to Carlsbad..
                                                                                                              I had some cheese enchi's but damn they were good..
                                                                                                              Lots of breakfast items..and they had lots of seafood options too..several locations around SD.


                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                I think Sr. Pancho went to the Dan Quayle Academy. Potato is spelled Potatoe on the menu ;-)

                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                  too funny DD!
                                                                                                                  being the Virgo I am, it drives me nuts when I see things misspelt..usually I call corporate but with a name like 'Senor Pancho'..well, I guess that sums up everything!
                                                                                                                  ; )

                                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                    I used to travel all over the county in a work-related capacity, with a lot of time spent in the south bay area. I would eat at a taco shop about twice a week. Of all the taco shops I have tried, I would rate Senor Pancho/Los Panchos the highest. In particular, I love their mini tacos, but everything I have had their was good.

                                                                                                                    Senor Pancho taco shops used to be Los Panchos. There was apparently an ownership split to form Senor Pancho and some Los Panchos taco shops remained. I suspect that the shops are named Senor Pancho because the owner is precluded from using the Panchos name.

                                                                                                                    Los Panchos
                                                                                                                    777 Broadway, El Cajon, CA 92021

                                                                                                                    1. re: Encinitan

                                                                                                                      I LOVE Los Panchos and we used to go to the PB location 2-3 times a week.
                                                                                                                      Good to know that Senor Pancho used to be LP..
                                                                                                                      Have you tried Los Charros in Escondido...friend says the Carne Asada Burrito is one of the best in town.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                        I have never been to Los Charros, nor heard of it. I will have to try it. I see it has 4.5 stars on Yelp, which counts for something.

                                                                                                                        I'm not in Escondido that often, but occasionally am there to take relatives et al to the Wild Animal Park and Niki de Saint Phalle's Magical Circle (http://www.ci.escondido.ca.us/events/...) in Kit Carson Park, or for shopping at the Northgate market and Kennedy Karne.

                                                                                                            2. re: iheartcarne

                                                                                                              I completely agree! In fact...I was absolutely blown away when I noticed that it wasn't listed on literally every single comment, or at least 98% of the comments!! I truly would have put money on the fact that Las Cuatro Milpas would be on damn near every comment...and I only ever bet on a sure thing. I honestly cannot believe that it's even up for debate. Hands down best tacos, chorizo beans/rice, tortillas...without question. I mean, there's a reason why there is ALWAYS a line that goes literally down the entire length of the whole block...filled with customers of every ethnicity, every background, & every profession... especially police officers. Many of those people wouldn't typically step a foot in that area, but the call for deliciousness, is far too strong for them to refuse. They have so much traffic going thru their in a daily basis, and especially on the weekends..The number of customer's inside eating and waiting in line to order..literally jam-packed like sardines In a tin...to the point of claustrophobia packed! There's so much customer traffic going thru their that they literally choose to remain open only until somewhere around 2:00 or 3:00 pm, because they feel overwhelmingly exhausted from the amount of non-stop customer's that file in and out of there, and so they have to pretty much shut down for the day, because it's a never-ending flow of people. So that truly speaks to how crazy people are over their tacos, rice/beans, etc. They all know what's up, and they realize that nothing competes with their food whatsoever.

                                                                                                              1. re: famILY637

                                                                                                                "filled with customers of every ethnicity, every background, & every profession... especially police officers."


                                                                                                                Well, then....

                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                  "One Time" does not mess around with their food. If we are in line, it's good.

                                                                                                                2. re: famILY637

                                                                                                                  I have seen lines for Cheesecake Factory, Red Lobster, El Indio, Lucha Libre, and Hodad's. Lines can prove many things, but a guarantor of deliciousness they are not.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                    Yes, absolutely.

                                                                                                                    I always say: "The most popular is rarely the best".

                                                                                                                    In anything.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                      Yes, Absolutely.

                                                                                                                      That is why it was easy to walk into elBulli anytime and get seated. No one goes to the truly great restaurants.

                                                                                                                  2. re: famILY637

                                                                                                                    Hmmmm.... your first post, please refer to Fake Names response.

                                                                                                                    1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                      In the interest of full disclosure, I just returned moments ago from LQM, same as every Monday morning.

                                                                                                                    2. re: famILY637

                                                                                                                      Welcome to Chowhound San Diego where bucking the orthodoxy of 4 or 5 regulars just leads to snark.

                                                                                                                  3. My name is Dan and I'm 30 years old. I love Carne Asada and carnitas and grew up here in San DIego. 3 places to go: 2 for carne asada burritos, and 1 for carnitas, and refried beans.

                                                                                                                    1: My favorite Taco shop food is CARNE ASADA BURRITOS. By far the best Carne Asada burrito place is RODRIGO'S in Rancho Penasquitos. For about 4.50 you can get a good sized carne burrito that has tender, juicy carne asada meat, guacamole, and pico de gallo wrapped in an oversized flour tortilla. get your own hot salsa at the salsa bar and you can't go wrong. The burritos are consistently good. yum.
                                                                                                                    2. The second best place for CARNE ASADA BURRITOS is LOS PANCHOS in Hillcrest. It is 24 hours, and they have a drive thru. Juicy carne burritos much like Rodrigos, and very full of flavor! The same fillings, juicy tender meat w/ pico and guacamole, wrapped in a giant tortilla, worth the visit - again, hot salsa at the salsa bar is the perfect companion for this.
                                                                                                                    3. I am mexican, and other than my mom's carnitas, the only place in San Diego I have tried that even compares (and I've been here 30 years) is El Ranchito in Poway. They have the best carnitas AND Refried beans in San Diego. get the carnitas plate, or tacos and you cannot go wrong. They also have a carnitas burrito that is very good as well. yumness, yum.

                                                                                                                    1. Just to be clear for the folks who have reignited this trail: tacos el Gordo is the BEST outside of Tijuana. I have not been to las cuatros Milpas. All the other recs in north county are good and anywhere else in the world would be excellent. The bar here has been set very high.

                                                                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Victor Lieberman

                                                                                                                        This thread needs a fish taco update.

                                                                                                                        South Beach in OB is over-rated. They put shredded cheddar cheese in a fish taco.

                                                                                                                        Fish Shop in PB is the freshest fish I have found. Any of their fresh fish will do, but I like the jumbo shrimp.

                                                                                                                        For real baja style, Oscar's in PB is the way to go.

                                                                                                                        Quattro Milpas has better rice, beans and tortillas than tacos.

                                                                                                                        And in all these years, no mention of La Fachada in Barrio Logan? Their lengua and cabeza can be hit or miss, but their carnitas is always on point.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Rubaggio

                                                                                                                          Shredded cheddar in a fish taco?
                                                                                                                          Someone should tell them that fish is not bacon.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                            Not to mention the ranch dressing.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                              Biggest # FAIL of all time. .

                                                                                                                              Their fish taco license should be revoked.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                It's amazing to me that South Beach Bar & Grill still gets high praise in certain circles. Maybe it stood out in 1999, but I think San Diego has evolved beyond that when it comes to seafood tacos.

                                                                                                                                1. re: RB Hound


                                                                                                                                  ...you know where South Beach B&G is...you know the crowd...and you know the ONLY reason to go is to drink. When you're drunk almost anything tastes pretty good...even those JITB tacos!!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                    With Pizza Port and Newport Ale House nearby, I know of no reason why I'd drink at South Beach.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                        If a Cheesecake Factory had a good view, would you eat there?

                                                                                                                                            1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                              Option B...must be a pick-up joint

                                                                                                                                          1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                            Maybe Diva is talking about the view inside rather than outside SBB&G.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                              I'm married; I don't look at other women.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                        Dining Diva just wrote "Dude." what the..?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, I have a tendency to call everyone dude or dudette...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                                            Seriously, dude has been in my vernacular for as long as I can remember. I literally can not remember a time I didn't regularly use the word. Also girl.

                                                                                                                            2. I want amazing carne asada tacos. Like the kind you get off the sketchy taco carts in Mexico. Anywhere in SD have stand out tacos?

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: purronyou

                                                                                                                                Tacos El Gordo. It's a TJ chain that moved across the border, and you can find locations in National City or Chula Vista.