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help SD visitor: good Mex/tacos by trolley? by car?

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I'm visiting for a few days, staying ner the Convention Center/Gaslamp area; desperate for good Mexican (not Tex-Mex!) food - can be in a restaurant, shack or taco truck. I know there are past posts on good places but don't know the local geography. So please help: Are there good places I can get to 1) by the streetcar? 2) by car w/in say a 20-min drive? Please exclude lunch-only places sicne I only have roaming time in the evenings. Thanks!

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  1. I don't know that there's anyplace in San Diego that qualifies as Tex-Mex, unless you mean "gringoized Mexican" by the term.

    Tacos al Gordo off the H street Trolley station in Chula Vista, for some of the better street tacos north of the border pops into my mind.

    Candelas in the Gaslamp for upscale Mexican.

    El Comal (on Illinois near University, sit-down restaurant with bar) or Super Cocina (on University near 36th, casual take-out place) are inconvenient to the trolley, but worth making a special trip for.

    You can take the trolley to Old Town and there are a number of gringo-mex restaurants there that others here think more highly of than I do (Casa Guadalajara, La Pinata and Old Town Mexican come to mind).

    2 Replies
    1. re: mikec

      You are in the wrong area for good authentic Mexican food. The best place that qualifies in your area is Las Quatros Milpas.

      1875 Logan Ave
      (between Beardsley St & Crosby St)
      San Diego, CA 92113
      (619) 234-4460

      1. re: mikec

        I'd also recommend Tacos El Gordo...that popped in my head since it's near the trolley stop.

      2. There's a pretty good, but crappy looking place called Mexican Fiesta on India street called Mexican Fiesta. Most of the stuff is okay (at best) with the dramatic exception of the al pastor (marinated pork) which is nothing short of spectacular. It's not a true al pastor, more of an adobada (its not grilled on a trompo, no pineapple), but its one of the best things ever.

        Other than that, stick with Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista. This is a Tijuana chain that expanded north.

        For the most part, San Diego is a taco shop culture, and so most of Mexican food is found at these Mom and Pop places, each with their own specialty. We're not too much into TexMex. Hell, we even hate San Francisco's version of the burrito. . .which is pretty much what most people think of when they think burrito.

        1. JV's on Morena is within walking distance from the Morena/Linda Vista trolley stop just north of Old Town. Inexpensive and good with a large selection of different types of tacos and lots of other tasty items.

          3 Replies
          1. re: diningduo

            Thanks everyone for these recs! Just to be clear, Tex-Mex or gringo-Mex is what I was trying to exclude. Authentic Mexican or the border-Californian interpretation is what I'm after. I'm excited to try all of these once I have two free minutes to figure out the trolley, which goes right by my hotel. Thanks again!

            1. re: mariyum

              There is very little "authentic" Mexican food in San Diego...whatever authentic really means. Tacos El Gordo is probably your best bet and the least bastardized. To get to it, you'll take the Blue trolley line going South towards the border, the trolley will have a Blue line stick in the front window and an LCD display in a side window on each car. IIRC, the desitnation display on the front of the trolley will say San Ysidro.

              In some trolley cars you can hear the station announcements really well on others you can't. There is a map inside each trolley car showing the stops and each stop in pretty well marked on the outside. Plus there is usually a big route and schedule map by the tracks at each stop. H St. in Chula Vista shouldn't be too hard and it's about a 15 +/- minute trolley ride from downtown. It's probably a $5 roundtrip ticket, and even though there is not conductor or ticket taker, do buy a ticket because the transit police are frequently on the trains checking.