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Jan 3, 2012 12:20 AM

Puesto in LJ

Walking down Wall Street this afternoon and noticed this VERY colorful sign for Puesto -- an upcoming Mexican "street food" eatery a few doors down from Whisknladle. Looks interesting...

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  1. From the Reader -

    They apparently also ran into issues with parking and the Coastal Commission - . With neighbors and regulations like these, I might think twice about opening in La Jolla and California...

    1. Puesto opened today -- LONG line. Looking forward to checking it out when things settle down.

      In other news on the La Jolla Mexican food front, Mr. Taco a couple of blocks over burned down yesterday -- a grease fire did them in. ;-(

      5 Replies
      1. re: bizzwriter

        The last time I checked a guisado was not "grilled food". In fact, it's pretty much the opposite, i.e. soupy/stewy concotions. If they're trying for "authentic" as stated on their web page, they might want to start by correctly identifying what they're serving. But...I shall reserve judgement until I have actually tried it, which may be tomorrow.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          Yeah, that misuse of such a basic term is pretty annoying. Really does make the whole enterprise suspect.

          1. re: Josh

            Well, at least they've got the grass-fed beef thing down.

            1. re: bizzwriter

              This is true. That alone will motivate me to try it.

          2. re: DiningDiva

            Tried Puesto for lunch today - not bad. I think they somehow need to streamline the ordering process, but the food was decent (if rather expensive). I did enjoy the plethora of mostly-tasty topping and salsa options though...

            I was taken aback by how many staff members they had working in such a small space (looked like at least 8 in the prep area and another 4-5 manning the front of house).

            Many of their fillings do in fact fall under the category of guisados - I won't fault them for just lumping some of the grilled meats into the same category for the sake of ordering simplicity.

        2. I wish them luck but 3 street tacos for $9 bucks..
          Let us know DD...the fruit sticks with lime and chiles got my name all over it for $3.45.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Beach Chick

            I'm intrigued by the Jamaica/Chipotle salsa

            1. re: Beach Chick

              The fruit sticks with lime and chili sounds a lot like the fresh fruit stand I've seen at the UCSD Farmer's Market year after year.

                1. re: foodiechick

                  exactly sista sledge...what's the name of the seafood shack at the docks that was in the KPBS, that's what I'm talking about and miss!

            2. Was there today for lunch. Only the tortillas were edible.

              Sadly, it reminded me of a cross between TJ's Tacos la Ermita (Salceados) and Chuck E Cheese. A wonderful food item (Mexican street food, or so they say) destroyed by a silly interactive concept and poor execution.

              16 Replies
              1. re: pickypicky

                I'm glad to find I wasn't the only one who got this impression. I might be able to get past the idiotic ordering process and mangling of the "street food" concept if the food was really good. It wasn't.

                For these prices I'd expect seriously good food and good service. Getting the opposite of both is pretty bad.

                Tip off #1 - If your ordering process is so difficult (??!!) and incomprehensible that you literally have to dedicate an employee to stand at the door and explain how to order....... Stop doing it?

                Tip off #2 - I'm paying trendy prices for a simple taco. And I'm watching you make said taco right in front of me. But...... you're just scooping premixed and precooked ingredients out of bins? You're making me watch you not cook?

                This might work in a place where people have way too much money and zero exposure to real ethnic food. But in a town with seriously good mariscos trucks? Calling this street food is shameful.

                  1. re: RB Hound

                    How was the crowd? You underestimate the La Jollans

                    1. re: shouzen

                      Good crowd while I was there, but not packed.

                      1. re: shouzen

                        La Jollans will figure out it isn't all that. The UCSD students already have. Now the tourists - that's another entity altogether.

                    2. re: y6y6y6

                      "Tip off #1 - If your ordering process is so difficult (??!!) and incomprehensible that you literally have to dedicate an employee to stand at the door and explain how to order....... Stop doing it?"

                      I'm out of the loop on their ordering process. What is it and what makes it so difficult?

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        Everyone who enters is given a plastic "menu" and a grease pencil. The menu has little icons for various ingredients. You draw on the menu to indicate what you want. Then you approach the cooks and hold up the kindergarten-style drawing of what should be cooked.

                        That's as odd and uncomfortable as it sounds. Making it worse is that you are choosing various ingredients, but it's not clear whether what you are drawing will end up as one taco or multiple tacos. And some of the things that sound like they'd be good together really aren't once they're in one taco.

                        My wife said it was like Build-A-Bear, but you only get to draw what you want, and you have to eat whatever mess you've come up with.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          This page has a picture of the menus. To order you need to know to grab one of those at the door and draw on it, then hold it up to show the cooks while they make it.. Any new customers for the rest of time will need to be shown that. So having an employee at the door will be a requirement forever.


                          All of this is 100% unnecessary, since you can just talk to the cooks directly. And you'll talk to them anyway.

                          It sort of feels like a "Candid Camera" episode. "Let's see how much work we can talk people into going through to order a basic taco."

                          1. re: y6y6y6

                            Oh good lord, what a bunch of nonsense. I can see why you were frustrated with it. Thanks for the link.

                            1. re: y6y6y6

                              What a frigging they think we're all a bunch of dumb asses?

                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                It took TWO people to explain to our party of four what the stupid procedure was. I was so disgusted, I was ready to leave, but the others wanted to push through. All those employees behind the counter, like robots, putting things on food. The whole concept is silly-- and worse, the food is terrible. When will young restauranteurs learn that concept is not everything, but if you must build your place on a concept, it better as hell make sense.

                                As for "talking directly to the cooks," I wouldn't even dignify the employees with the term "cook." They were clueless about ingredients, and did little more than ladle stuff on my plate, except for the cheese fryer guy.

                                1. re: pickypicky

                                  My husband said that Puesto makes Chipotle seem like a fantastic dining experience.

                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                      I will probably lose all dining cred for saying this, but frankly Chipotle IS a fantastic dining experience for what it is. I'm very happy that people who used to go to a Taco Bell now go to Chipotle instead.

                                      1. re: shouzen

                                        if it's good enough for Appleman...

                          2. We went to Puesto last night, and I'm going to risk my reputation as a high-brow individual of high taste.
                            We enjoyed it.

                            I had a great carnitas bowl- solid porky flavor (not very spicy, but it's build for other palates) high quality ingredients, balanced portions. MrsName and Mr12 (nee Mr OppositionalPhase) both had tacos they enjoyed. My Michelada was OK- shoulda hada beer.

                            I was not intellectually challenged by the ordering process. I was a bit frustrated by the single cashier. I could see our food, ready to eat, just sitting there, getting colder, while we waited for two orders in front of us to be rung up and the beverages dispensed. Didn't like that part.

                            But the rest of it was very good.

                            So go ahead, type whatever ill-spirited quips you may have. I ain't scared. Take your best shot.

                            5 Replies
                                1. re: Fake Name

                                  My only lasts 1 year prediction sure was wrong.

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                Los Angeles thanks you for your business patronage. Give us a ring next time you're in the hood.