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Decent Mexican food in San Diego?

So I recently moved to San Diego from Los Angeles, and I can't seem to find any decent real Mexican restaurants (fast food or otherwise). I've tried Roberto's, Cotixan, and Pokez, to name a few, and their burritos are all seriously lacking; most are just tortillas filled with carne asada and some kind of guacamole. In LA it was soo much easier to get decent food, you could always run down to Las Fuentes, Que Ricos, King Taco, or just any local hole in the wall and get a good burrito at any hour.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Preferably closer to the La Jolla area.

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  1. Try Palomino's over at the corner of Clairemont Mesa and Ruffin Road (behind Carl's Jr.). I think you will be pleased at the quality and prices.

    It might be easier to recommend something if you could describe what it is that you really liked about your "L.A." food...because the Mexican food in San Diego is very diverse...

    1. So, uh, what exactly do you want in your burrito, anyway? If you're from LA, I know you couldn't mean one of those two-pound monstrosities filled with rice and vegetarian beans. Could it be that your problem is that you've been looking in La Jolla? I'm always suspicious when I go into some place and Vivaldi is playing in the background and the menu lists "Taqueax" and "Buriteaux." ;-)
      . . . jim strain

      1. Your post is problematic for a couple of reasons.

        One is that burritos are kind of an Americanized Mexican food item, so any discussion of "real" Mexican food probably wouldn't include them.

        Two is that by local standards, "real" burritos are typically filled only with meat, guacamole, and salsa.

        If you're looking for burritos with other items in them, I'd suggest JV Taco Shop on Morena Blvd. They have a huge selection of burritos, with all kinds of stuff in them. They are also mammoth, and probably enough for two meals unless you eat standard American portions.

        You might also enjoy Santana's, they have numerous locations around the county.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          OP I was born in Mexico City and grew up in East L.A.... lets get real... if you are going to insult San Diego's Mexican offering don't come up with something ridiculous like Rice laden Burritos... or King Taco (which has a few decent things but few real Chowhounds would even mention them... at lost not since they discontinued their Pollos Rostizados).

          Finally... Super Cocina has real Mexican cuisine (not that it sounds like you know what that actually would mean)... and in L.A. (despite some weaknesses like not offering hand made tortillas) would be among the Top 1% of Mexican establishments.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            I think OP meant Taco Shops and not Mexican Food.

            This post could go on forever if everyone listed their favorite Taco Shop in SD county...

          2. re: Josh

            It sounds to me like the OP is looking for Chipotle. Which is fine and all but not exactly "Real Mexican."

            1. re: Josh

              I love JV Taco Shop. We always stop there when we go to Padres' games on Sundays. We take it with us on the trolley to Petco and don't eat it until we get a beer and get to the grass area and make people jealous with envy. Even the people eating Randy Jones' food.

              GO CHARGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            2. Go to Porkyland on Torrey Pines Road (just north of the Von's along Girard) and get something with the carnitas. You probably won't like it and won't think it is "real Mexican", but you'll be a better person for it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RB Hound

                Well I'm sure they can stuff it with rice and beans, for that extra-authentic taste. :P

              2. Jeez you guys are brutal. The OP asked a question and ends up getting ripped a new one? Yeah, it was kind of an ignorant question based on not knowning SD burritos are usually just meat, guac and salsa, but does that mean he has to be fileted and left to dry in the sun. There are lots of people who move here and ask where they can find food items like where they came from and we usually answer them a lot more civilly than we did this person. San Diego has decent taco shops, it doesn't particularly have decent Mexican food, and the style of burritos is unique to the area and CA. That does make our burritos better or worse, just different with their own identity.

                My first post to CH was not too long after I moved back home from SF asking where I could find a Mission style burrito. The responses I got back then were way nicer than what this OP got. And after 7 years, I actually like the SD style burritos better than what I was looking for. Come on, let's play nice with new posters to the board.

                8 Replies
                1. re: DiningDiva

                  I dunno, somehow I doubt you phrased your question as he did. Asking for Mission burritos is a little different then asking for "real Mexican" food, then proceeding to describe one of the most inauthentic Mexican food items out there.

                  Maybe everyone's responses seem a little brutal, but as you yourself have noted, electronic written communication is horribly flat. I'm sure if this stuff was verbally communicated it would have been taken as somewhat well-intentioned chops-busting.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Josh, electronic media *is* very flat, lacks emotion and connection that is so vital to good communciation. That is very true and I have said it many times, not only here on CH. And clearly that means I was reading the responses through my own personal filters. I also know that I'm going through a personal transition with my own communication skills, so perhaps my sensitivity to the posts was heightened. I just thought some of the replies were a bit harsher than they used to be.

                    Or, perhaps it wasn't being harsh; perhaps it was merely that gigantic chip on the shoulder some San Diegans carry with regard to comments about the food. Let's face it, San Diego's food scene got beat up pretty well on CH in 2007 by everyone, locals and visitors alike. Somethings wrong wiht the picture when there are 200+ comments about why SD restaurants suck and less than 30 about the best of 2007; it's hard not to be discouraged. I'll also admit that I've been as guilty as everyone else about bashing local restaurants. Luckily, though, I can make choices and I can choose to be more positive about local eating this year than in the past. Frankly, I like the bulk of what I can find and eat in San Diego isn't that bad. Sure there are service issues and sure there are inconsistencies in quality and creativity, but I can eat pretty well in San Diego and have satisfying dining experiences. I suspect you can too, Josh, because you've got an open mind and palate and a sense of dining adventure.

                    Why do we have to beat up every restaurant in San Diego as if it was perpetuating a mortal sin. Did it ever occur to anyone that the OP could have planted his post just to pull our chain and get a reaction? If so, s/he is probably having a good laugh at our expense. If not, then s/he better have a pretty tough hide.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      I'm kind of always suspicious when it is a first/only time Poster either raving about or attacking someplace out here. This, combined with the multitude of "Where is the best fish/carne asada taco/burrito or BBQ or Seafood or Appetizers or Dessert?" questions we see monthly- and seeing similar questions by first time posters on other Boards at the same time all boils down to my theory that a lot of posts are planted here.

                      That being said, some of the snarkiness was not necessary with the OP statement of only asking about burritos...we all know that a burrito is not a "Mexican food". I try to ignore posts with inaccurate titles and/or punctuation and/or spelling...

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        DD, in reference to why the post on "SD sucks" is still going on ad nauseum vs a fraction of the posts for "best of 07 in SD," I think it partly has to do w/ the culture we live in. People tend to openly complain and whine more instead of speaking up when something goes really well.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          "Did it ever occur to anyone that the OP could have planted his post just to pull our chain and get a reaction? If so, s/he is probably having a good laugh at our expense. If not, then s/he better have a pretty tough hide."

                          That definitely occurred to me, which is why I was sarcastic in my response (though I did try to add a useful bit of information). But I'm sorry, Diva - when the original poster puts things in a semi-inflammatory manner, one that at best is overly cutesy, they probably don't deserve the courtesy of a nice response. This same person could have asked the same question without using "decent real Mexican food". In fact, the fact that they didn't at least explain themselves or post some sort of response indicates this was nothing more than bait.

                          1. re: RB Hound

                            RBH, point taken. The phrase "decent real Mexican food" and any style burrito are pretty much mutually exclusive. Ignorance could have been bliss, don't you think?

                      2. re: DiningDiva

                        He did kind of ask for it with the "real Mexican food" comment - but I agree that these sarcastic responses are a bit much, even for this tough crowd.

                        I really have nothing to add, substantively, because that's how I like my burritos - meat, good guacamole and salsa. I'd really like to hear from this person as to what he got in burritos at these other places.

                        1. I moved down from OC 5 years ago and feel the same way...heck, I've been trying to get the guys from Taco Mesa to open up a location down here.

                          Anyways, I finally found a place that I enjoy....it's downtown and it's actually very reasonably priced. I am referring to Calaco, which is on 4th Avenue--on the side of Horton Plaza in between Sammy's Woodrfried and Hennesey's. Excellent tacos--salseado and a pork taco are wonderful...great sauces, very good. Full dinner menu, besides just tacos.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: El Chevere

                            What are the prices like? They don't post them like they do at every other restaurant downtown...I've walked by many times and saw the cloth napkins and the chalkboard only listing tacos and just was afraid to walk in...

                            1. re: Cathy

                              normally $ 2.95 per taco....they are quite tastey and I believe they have happy hour prices until 7PM in which case it is $2.00 per taco (check with them though, I am 95% positive but could be wrong)

                              1. re: El Chevere

                                I'm gonna be there several week nights this coming week...thanks for the tip-will let you know if this is not true

                                Valentine's is good, but a bit of a walk...

                          2. Los Pancho's in PB on Garnet,, great food , big portions, sit down service with free chips.
                            Everything homemade. very low prices

                            1. just to switch gears a bit, isn't there a taco place down in the south bay (SD) area that is a U.S. outpost of a Mexican taco chain? I thought I saw it in the paper, and for the life of me I can't remember its name.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: littlestevie

                                You may be thinking of Tacos El Gordo:

                                689 H Street
                                (between Del Rey Blvd & Kernel Pl)
                                Chula Vista, CA 91910
                                (619) 691-8848

                                1. re: JRSD

                                  Thanks, that sounds like the place!

                              2. El Ranchero in Vista (North County)