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May 20, 2008 10:03 PM

Tacos El Paisa [or El Gordo whimpers] SD

Uno de Buche
y el otro de Asada.

Taquero springs into action; motions to hearty feminine counterpart to press out two discs of masa.

Flames. Steam. Sizzle.

I take my seat on the patio under cool foggy skies. Light is starting to dim. Banda Sinaloense pierces the silence of the air. I like it.

I am presented with a Mexican Thali of accoutrement. Damn, I spend 3 dollars and they offer an exciting array of 3 salsas, heavy avocado sauce, escabeche, sliced radishes, cukes, and limons all to myself.

>Cukes are lovingly blessed with essence of lime.
> Best Zanahorias en Escabeche I have had outside of the Fallbrook El Tigre. Likely better. Thick cut soft carrots, visible lacing of floral mexican oregano, bright green jalapeno halves still wonderfully slightly crisp. Deep flavor to this escabech.

All the veg makes me feel better about my coming red meat and pork throat/neck. :^)

Young girl arrives bearing tacos to my favorite Chalino on the radio. Draw drops on inspection. Grilled crisp rectangles of bite sized asada. If looks could kill, the buche would have done me in. Greaseless, beautiful little hunks of literal golden meat. Very Generous portions for 1.55 taco.

"FORGET EL GORDO," my tastes buds gritan [scream]. I wrapped my mouth around that rustically formed softer than lips tortilla and bliss.

Carne Asada -- I want you to find better.

Buche -- Gawd...I started having flashbacks to the pork jowl dish of Laja. The texture! The perfect smokiness, essence of pork. Haha, I've never used this word but -- this is the orgasmic taco. lol.

I ruin myself on this quest.

Tacos El Paisa
3069 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

>>Masa Assassin - I bow down before you for leading me to this place! Please forgive me for forgetting to order the rompope agua! I cant believe I didn't. If you can - will you please share your pictures of the restaurant?

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  1. Really, makes Tacos El Gordo whimper? I'm not quite sure.
    I went a few months back, and thought other than the Carne Adobada, the Cabeza and Birria I had were....just okay. I've had better tortillas at El Compita.
    I'll agree with the pickles, the Chilies en Escabeche was probably the best I've ever had, tart, cold, refreshing, with the perfect texture, mildly crisp, with a perfect balance of the dense pickle that still maintained a nice bit of snap. Being a fan of really powerful flavors I found the Salsa Verde to be excellent, very and to the point.

    I'm wondering, what did they charged you for your tacos...the menu board lists them for $2.00 - $2.10, but I was charged a straight $1.55 across the board.
    Also, the service was very nice....because they thought I'd waited too long, they gave me a (very) large cup of Jamaica gratis...just that will get me to go back. But orgasmic? Not quite sure...but of course, I'm not an expert in anything....I just eat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: KirkK

      I really think so, compa!

      Did [or do] you eat the Buche? You dont mention it.. Or the Carne Asada? I was eating from the Lonchera set outside with the grill going and thin asada crisping away over charcoal. Did you eat here? The salsas were not in little cups like that. The inside was closed for service.

      Some people sitting near me kept on going up to joke around with the taquero and telling him how good their dinner was and in Spanish one guy said "Just like home."

      I paid 1.55

      I need to get over to El Compita - I never been there to check that claim on those tortillas out. These at El Paisa are top 5 that I have experienced in SD. Let me know what you think of Menuderia DV's tortillas - have you made it down there yet? They tasted masa from 6 different tortillerias before choosing.

      El Gordo is exquisite -- dont get me wrong - but they are a little messy, Everytime I get the Al pastor they put way to much green mayo on it. Which I wouldnt mind if it was more of a condiment. I have had way better chorizo tacos. Buche is soft and 50/50 grease.

      4 out of the 6 times I have ordered carne there - it tasted steamed.

      My Short List of SD Tacos stands:
      1. El Paisa
      2. Gordo
      3. Linda Vista Truck

      I guess we can all say we are not experts - just wondering what are you getting at?

      But hey, de gustibus, non disputandum est.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        What am I getting at....after your rather defensive response, I guess that's settled. I just wanted to add that it was my own humble opinion.

        Other than the Adobada, the Cabeza at La Princesita was much better.

        So in other words, I need to go when they are grilling everything fresh outside? Sorry to say, wasn't happening on the day I visited. You could have indicated that. The salsa was from the bar inside, and you put it into little cups....I'm assuming that's how it usually is.

        Did I eat here.....check the photos....what are YOU trying to say?

    2. Here is a link to some of the pictures;

      I forgot to mention the wondorus free steamy brothy beans -- perfect for the foggy twilight.

      1. Yes, El Paisa is defiantly a top spot. I love both El Gordo and El Paisa both have their strengths and weaknesses. Taco for Taco, I like certain types of cuts from El Paisa and certain from El Gordo. El Paisa gets the edge on everything else atmosphere, service, salsa bar, free bean broth, and of course their famouso Agua Fresca. The Agua Fresca is worth the trip alone for me. I particularly love the Rompope. I can’t say enough about the service this place has given me (even making me off menu items).

        The key to having great tacos at El Paisa is timing. I learned the tricks at El Paisa. They fire up that grill at noon and I believe it shuts down at Midnight. The tacos off the truck or cart are so much better than inside. The Truck used too park at the location on 47TH St, and it was the same deal (Outside better than inside). The only subpar tacos I’ve had at Paisa were made inside before noon.

        Cash Only!

        Let me dig up some photos to post. Nice write-up KR.

          1. I continue to stand strongly by my love for El Paisa over Gordo.

            I went today for lunch before work and ordered 2 tacos of al pastor and buche and birria de res sope.

            Again, the fantastic thali of salsas, guacamole, escabeche, cukes, rabanos and limons is brought to you. You can see the laurel leaves and mex. oregano in the escabeche.

            Yea, yea, yea Alex you ate tacos again. lah-de-da...
            No you dont understand guys! The fresh masa tortillas are like eating warm roasted corn in a condensed flattened form. The al pastor has this crispness to it and a taste of spice reminescent of something you might get in an Indian curry. There was a guy with a truck full of pineapples the taquero went over to get for his adaboda spit.

            The gargantuan sope made me laugh at its size. Crema, salty chesse, lettuce and cinnamon-chile flavored beef birria. kill me now.

            Sit outside and listen to some music and dig in to the scent of grilling azada.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kare_raisu

              KR.. stop, stop now. Have some pity for those of us who are being forced to immigrate to Hawaii where there is no Paisa or Gordo =(

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                haha! I am going to have to tell you about my favorite secret Okinawan place over there. Man I will miss you