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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 tart...sharp 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

            2. Have they moved? Their website (crazy that taco trucks have websites these days) claims 3 different locations, none of which matches the address you posted.


              2 Replies
              1. re: tanzbodeli

                they still have the 47th st., the imperial location is now Tacos Ricos, and the 'Taquero temple' Logan Trailer is now at the above location I frequent.

                I love this place - its got my endorsement 100% for tacos in SD

                1. re: tanzbodeli

                  The website has not been updated. The national ave is the only location I frequent. As KR said its all about the trailer and truck. I was not impressed with the 47th st location.

                2. Just wanted to add my comments here. Went by this spot yesterday. Have to admit, if I hadn't heard from you guys, I probably would have driven right by and figured it was just another weird spot that I wasn't going to stop at.

                  FWIW, I drive National Ave from the 5, east to 43rd Street, stopping at El Paisa on my way to Northgate Market and there were a ton of small little taco shops that looked interesting but unless I hear about them, I won't likely stop.

                  Any how, that is the value of a community like this, thanks to everyone. This place is off the charts awesome!

                  I got two Al Pastor tacos and one carnitas. I added a strawberry drink, I was hoping for that eggnog deal, but they were not serving it on this trip. The corn tortillas were as stated, they have a lady making tortillas fresh as they are needed! That is ONE thing I have never really seen at a smaller place like this. On my way out, I caught the chefs eye and gave him two big thumbs up and he smiled.

                  Killer spot and I will now take my wife there to enjoy!

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Wino

                    How close to Lincoln H.S. is this place?

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Well, Lincoln HS is just east of 805 while El Paisa is just east of 5.
                      Lincoln HS is on Imperial between 47th and 48th while El Paisa is one offramp south, on National Ave, between 30th and 31st.

                      Looks like around 3 miles or so.

                      1. re: Wino

                        Thanks. I had dinner last Friday night with a group of friends and the discussion turned to taquerias in SD (we were actually sittin in a taqueria in SF). One person in our group was talking about a place on 47th a few blocks from Lincoln H.S. that he said had was surprisingly good. Not a building, just a couple of trucks, and not particularly inspiring in appearance. The discussion above in this thread sounded suspiciously like the place my friend described...but could not remember the name.

                        From his description, this probably isn't the place, I think it was much closer to Lincoln than 3 miles +/-. Thanks for the info though.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          Actually I think that is one of their other outlets.

                          Check out their link: http://www.tacoselpaisa.net/locations...

                          Looks like them to me!

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            That could have been Paisa. The truck used to be parked at the 47th st location shown on the link Wino provided. However its new home is the National Ave location.

                      2. re: Wino

                        "This place is off the charts awesome!"

                        So cool you got down here to Paisa Wino. I took some friends from work here a few days ago and they just kept on looking at the taco and back at me with this blank stare of amazement.

                        New Converts! haha.

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          Yeah, it won't be too long until they have to expand into north county!! ;)

                      3. I wanted to quickly celebrate Mexican Independence day between school and work during the lunch hour today so I went to Tacos El Gordo. My initial thought was of course El Paisa - but I wanted to make sure that they are still on top of their game.

                        The Taqueros at El Paisa are still on top of their artform.

                        I ordered:

                        The tripitas while edible, had a slight 'off' flavor but more unforgivingably they were not cooked to the essential crispness. Ya, there I was munching on chewy intestines haha. The salsa they use for this meat is outstanding on the other hand - with a slight nutiness.

                        Times before that I had tried to get the Suadero - it hasnt been available. Finally I got a taste today - and while solid - it wasn't as good as versions I have had in the Bay area.

                        Chorizo was very dry and had more of an innard taste - but paired with the guacamole its was more tasty.

                        Ceboillitas and chiles were cold as were the kind of 'afterthought' pressed tortillas.

                        Chased these tacos with the Extremely Delicious Pechuga Mezcal from Del Maguey at El Agave.

                        Feliz Dia!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          I'm confused KR you ate at El Gordo or El Paisa????

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              forget el gordo Tacos el Paisa rock!

                              1. re: MIREYA P

                                Estoy cien % de acuerdo amiga! :^)

                        2. Thanks for this rec, kare_raisu.

                          I dropped by El Paisa on Wednesday, right around noon as they were firing up the grill. I liked the buche and the adobada, but the carne asada was the standout--the juiciest taco I've had in a long while. I was also impressed by the fresa agua fresca, creamy, almost like a light milkshake. Can't wait to go back.

                          Quick question--are the beautiful roasted chiles by the grill intended to go with something specific? Or can you just ask for those on the side of any taco?

                          I've attached a photo of the lovely "thali" of salsas and fresh veggies you mentioned above.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Lillian Hsu


                            Yes, there should be a stock pot on the grill too filled with frijoles de la olla - which along with the roasted chiles and onions - you are welcomed to take at your leisure.

                            We should chowdown when you get a chance!

                          2. I was long overdue for a stop at one of my favorite taquerias so I yesterday I decided go for dinner.

                            The truck was in full affect! The smell from the asada on coals, and looking at a pile of Masa was killing me.

                            The Masa Queen still forming perfect disc of tortillas de maiz.

                            It was great to see the same taquero grilling up the asada

                            I didn't have Asada in mind but after smelling it I ordered a trifecta of Asada, Birria, and Adobada.

                            From left to right Adobada, Birria, Asada

                            I was pleased to notice the adobada is even better then the last time I tried it. They kicked up the spice on the paste a notch and it was perfectly cooked on the spit. I had to order an extra one before I left.

                            Nothings changed on the amazing array of accompaniments.

                            Grilled onions and chilies

                            Frijoles de la Olla

                            All still free of course!
                            Tacos are now 1.67
                            My only issue? No more Rompope Agua Fresca :(

                            If you have never tried El Paisa make sure you order off the truck and not inside just like La Fachada. The truck is not open mornings.

                            I took 20 bucks from the ATM this morning. I had Pork Neck at Sab E Lee for lunch and 4 tacos and a drink here for dinner, and I still have enough change for a Nieve !
                            I love San Diego