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BEST AUTHENTIC TACOS IN SAN DIEGO

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Looking for the best tacos in San Diego. Tacos al postor, tacos al cabeza, etc. Must be authentic as I can cook tacos at home very well thank you. The South Bay would be good since I live in Chula Vista but I will travel anywhere for the good stuff!

Link: http://www.delphi.com/homecook

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  1. So funny you should ask. I have a very strong recommendation from a trusted friend, but not one I have been able to try out from myself:

    Las Cuatro Milpas
    1857 Logan Ave., San Diego

    Located somewhere under the freeeway overpass to Coronado, this place has apparently been there since 1933, and has the best freakin' mexican food in the world. Try it, and tell us what you think!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jeff Shore

      Thank you for mentioning los quatros milpas. I had forgotten the name. This is REALLy good mexican food. Be careful where you park at night however. Its a pretty tough neighborhood. Yum. I'm visiting San Diego so I'll go there tomorrow for lunch.

    2. It's not really San Diego, but at the border crossing in TJ there's a taco stand serving some of the best tacos I've ever had. It's at the foot of the pedestrian bridge, the second or third merchant stall; tacos are 75 cents and brutally good.

      1. There is a taco shop down town in the Gaslamp District called Alambres. The food is exceptional quality in the same style that you find in Mexico City, opposed to San Diego's typical northern influenced taco stand. The owner also owns a well known taco shop in Mexico City called Charco de las Ranas.

        1. Las Cuatro Milpas.

          The place is unbelievable. Not everything, however, is as unquestioningly the best this life here on Earth has to offer as are the TAMALES served in with the bowl of bean soup. I think it's bean soup, I've moved away from San Diego otherwise I'd eat there a'coupla' times a week. The soup's the reddish one everyone's eating.

          Some things on the menu, like the tacoa are good, but only average in stature and magic compared to these TAMALES. They are quite simply and unequivocally the single best ones this Earth has or has ever had to offer. Period.

          And the tortillas all the people line up for everyday to take home (para llavar) are without parallel. I've been around, too.

          The place is legendary, try the TAMALES in the soup (the reddish one everyone's eating) and you'll see why.

          regards,
          zorastra

            1. re: stangoldsmith

              Care to expand upon why you think we should avoid Alambres, stangoldsmith? Thank you.

            2. UMMM tacos de Cabeza mmmm

              1. Taco's El Gordo on H St. in Chula Vista offers great TJ style tacos and has terrific cabeza tacos.

                Las Cuatro Milpas in the barrio offers great pork tacos, although I prefer the burritos. It's only open for lunch and the neighborhood is fine during the day.

                1 Reply
                1. Not a big fan of Las Cuatro Milpas in the Barrio Logan. It is an o k a y place, but the food there isn't exactly the stuff that autentico taco cravings are made of. The menu is very limited, food is plain (actually 'humble' is a better word), as in the meats (beef-chicken-pork) are simply boiled and seasoned, and all tacos are deep fried (like your favorite gringa grandma makes). Everything is served with piles of queso (real tacos don't need cheese--just cebollitas y cilantro, thank you).

                  Don't get me wrong--its not terrible--but LCM is more like the place you get a little burrito first thing in the morning while you are waiting for your masa para tamales on tamale day.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mister C

                    You are sooooo wrong, except the limited part...
                    The "red soup" is chorizo chilli, very good. They do tacos frios; which is tacos fried in lard, not heart healthy but tasty. The hot sauce is seared serrano peppers simered with tripe. Kind of weird sounding but not that uncommon and definitly worth trying. The tortias are the richest I've ever had. There is no better working mans lunch than "los cuatros".

                    1. I thought I'd bring this topic back up for a current discussion.

                      I've been trying all the local taquerias, and by local i mean Downtown/barrio logan/golden hill...etc. Anyways, all have disappointed.

                      Cuatro Milpas is not authentic, their style of tacos (fritos) are ho hum. the quality of meat is poor, and the person before who said the place is limited, is totally right. In a discussion on tacos, quatro milpas should not even be mentioned.

                      Moving on, my focus/search is limited to carne asada tacos.
                      A traditional authentic asada "taco" no matter what planet you're on has tortilla & chopped carne asada, USUALLY with diced onions and cilantro. Thats it! everything else is up to you, salsa, quacamole, whatever, but if you go to some dude on the street making tacos, its always very basic. And this is universal, from downtown LA to Guadalajara, to D.F,...etc.

                      Lately i've tried:

                      Glorias Taco - Terrible, poor poor poor quality meat, poorly seasoned. loaded with gristle.

                      Taqueria El Tizon - on Imperial - I couldnt even eat half of one, meat was not grilled fresh, reheated on the grill to the point where there were chared bits on the meat. again, poor meat with loads of gristle

                      Tia Lula - on imperial - meat wasnt grilled fresh, everything reheated in a microwave, gristly, poor seasoning, poor salsa

                      La Fachada - decent meat, excellent tortillas, cilantro onions are good. Meat still has a bit of gristle, its their one downfall. If it wasnt for their carnitas i'd never go.

                      Tacos El Paisa - Imperial. Its been a while. From what I remember, not bad, asada was better than La Fachada.

                      Los Reyes - Golden Hill - pura mierda. I'll never bother going again

                      So far the best has been Tacos El Gordo - and I'm not saying they're great but in this race to the bottom, they're at least trying to not come in first.

                      Mama Testa is also decent.

                      Anyways, I'm hoping some of you can recommend more places. Hopefully around the downtown/Park area.

                      Has anyone had the tacos at the "Farmers Market"?

                      -----
                      Mama Testa
                      1417 University Ave Ste A, San Diego, CA 92103

                      La Fachada
                      20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                      Tacos El Paisa
                      840 S 47th St, San Diego, CA 92113

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: kriot

                        There are more than 50 Farmers Markets in San DiegoCounty, which is 4200 square miles. Please narrow it down.

                        http://sdfarmbureau.org/BuyLocal/Farm...

                        People have different tastes and everyone has their own favorite taco shops. One is close to home and the other is close to work.

                        1. re: kriot

                          Farmers Market is meh. El Paisa is good.

                          1. re: kriot

                            There is probably only two other worthwhile places to get "BEST AUTHENTIC" tacos in San Diego - Tacos El Poblano in downtown Chula Vista get the Carne Asada and Birria de Res
                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-el-pobl...
                            - Tacos Poblano in Chula likely - I havent been yet.
                            http://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-poblano...

                            Honestly once you go to an even decent Tijuana taco vendor - you are pretty much ruined for what you get here. Its too bad there is not much foodie traffic to our sister city anymore.

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              Kare Raisu, Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out soon! I wouldnt mind going back to down to Tijuana, maybe sometime soon. who knows.

                              As for farmers market, Josh got it, its the building there on imperial across from where German parks the truck. But thanks for the entertaining answer.

                              1. re: kriot

                                Last time I was at that food court it is was under construction with some very ambitious renovation plans. I was less than thrilled with the taco quality, but did enjoy some excellent Guisados and some good seafood cocktails, the pulpo I remember being excellent. Has anyone been there recently? it used to be a one stop shop groceries, go food, tuxedos, taxes, nail salon, pinatas, shoes, toy store, etc it was like UTC south.

                            2. re: kriot

                              I go to La Fachada almost exclusively when I want superior Tacos de Lengua. I enjoy the cabeza and carnitas tacos there as well and the occasional Huarache, but the real draw there is the lengua.

                              For me, carne asada is too hit and miss to take seriously as a measure of a good taco since it's so ubiquitous and fabulously over-hyped. It's too easy for these trucks and stands to make ordinary or even bad CA tacos and get away with it because of the appalling lack of sophistication in the customer base. At least, that's how I see it. Also, a bit of gristle is to be expected occasionally especially considering the street roots of tacos, they take ordinary or sub-par cuts, typically skirt or flank, and make it palatable with the marinade. Problem is most places cook it to death and that's what really ruins it.

                              I go to different places for different things when it comes to street tacos, trick is to know which one is best at what. One thing is for certain, I keep my expectations very low when it comes to a taco stand CA taco unless they do something out of the ordinary like use a very high grade of meat which some places do to set themselves apart. One place that stands out to me is the CA burritos at Taco Surf in PB and that's because they use choice top sirloin. Otherwise I get CA from my local Carneceria and cook it up myself as it should be: grilled and medium rare.

                              -----
                              La Fachada
                              20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                              1. re: deckape

                                I'm with you on going to different places for different things, and yes asada tacos are everywhere, but thats my point, its a staple and should be done well. I've found loads of places in LA and the Bay Area that make good and great asada tacos and believe me, the competition there is pretty fierce (in LA at least). here making a decent taco is just, ... not something any taqueria really cares about.

                                regarding gristle, most "taquerias" here are LOADED with it, meaning every bite comes with a chunk of it. not a small piece here but gristle is easily 40% of the taco.

                                La Fachada is quite decent. I like the carnitas there and as you said the lengua is good. Its too bad they no longer have the truck, Sitting inside is depressing and their current outside seating is next to the trash cans. I joked with them about that and said, I'm gonna take the food home so I dont have to fight the flys. They mentioned they're waiting for the city to issue an update to their truck license.

                                So anyways, i'm not expecting grass fed beef, handmade tortillas and pesticide free cilantro and onions but any taqueria thats reheating everything in the microwave and not at the very least cooking the meat fresh should not exist. Arrachera meat (I know its a crap cut) is so thin that there's no reason for not grilling it up when ordered.

                                I will check out Taco Surf in PB. I've wondered about it for a while, so i'll keep my fingers crossed. Thanks for the heads up.

                                -----
                                La Fachada
                                20 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                                1. re: kriot

                                  My reply is not to be an extensive run down of best "authentic" taco shops but there is a huge difference in San Diego v. Los Angeles v. San Francisco taco shops. While I understand you described what your criteria for a good taco shop is, I find it difficult that you found what you were looking for in LA. As you say, " I've found loads of places in LA and the Bay Area that make good and great asada tacos and believe me, the competition there is pretty fierce (in LA at least)."

                                  I found quite the opposite when I lived in LA for eight years. The additions of lettuce and sour cream to the most basic tacos was prevalent from the Westside taco shops to those in Boyle Heights. As well as numerous other flaws. The entire time I lived there I derided their tacos and their Taco Shops as being unpalatable and unauthentic. But that is because my taco shop standards are here in San Diego. It was only when I moved home a few years ago that I was content with the tacos that I grew up on and loved.

                                  My point is only echoing onr above that states the most authentic taco shop is the one you grew up on.

                                  1. re: jturtle

                                    jturtle

                                    I find there's plenty of taco shops/stands/trucks to choose from
                                    ( Westside of LA to Boyle ) that do not use sour cream and lettuce in their tacos.

                                    I think it depends on what taco shops you are visiting.

                                    Back to the OP

                                    I like Carnitas Michoacanas just East of the intersection of College and University Ave
                                    located in a strip mall on the South side of the street.

                              2. re: kriot

                                Who is going to break the news to the hoards of Mexicans and Mexican Americans who line up everyday at Las Cuatro Milpas that what they are eating is not authentic Mexican food?

                                1. re: scottca075

                                  And who will break the news to you that everyone already knows that?

                                  1. re: scottca075

                                    Isn't that kind of like saying that because there are a bunch of Americans lining up at Cheesecake Factory their food must be good?

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      Wait- they have Mexican food at Cheesecake factory? It hink I'm confuse, but I'm going to go get in line to wait.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        There is a difference between authentic and good. Cheesecake Factory is an authentic American restaurant to its core with its over sized portions.

                                        -----
                                        Cheesecake Factory
                                        2015 Birch Rd Ste 705, Chula Vista, CA 91915

                                    2. re: kriot

                                      Its been a while but the Hillcrest Farmers Market has a hot food section and there is a vendor selling salsas and it looks like "mom" id making tacos dorados. Last time I was there they had three kinds and al I remember were the flor de calabaza (squash blossom) with cheese. hand made in a fry pan over a propane stove and they were delicious. I am going to look for here this Labor day weekend,

                                    3. There's a pretty good place - I think its called Senor Taco - on Broadway between 5th and 4th. Its right by a very sketchy bus stop, but the tacos are pretty damn authentic - meat, cilantro and onions. They serve the basics plus lengua, birria, cabeza, etc, and the carne asada wasn't gristly at all (though my favorite is the birria).

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jmtreg

                                        The place is Senor El Tacquero, located at 435 Broadway, SD, 92101.

                                        1. re: jmtreg

                                          Thanks for the recommendation I'll add it to the list.

                                      2. Best buche is in La Mesa at Rigoberto's. El Tigre (maybe called northgate market now?) makes a very good buche also.

                                        Best Tripas is in La Mesa at Rigoberto's or in Chula Vista at Tacos el Gordo. Both are equivalent as long as you tell TEG that you want them crisp.

                                        Best Lingua is up for grabs-make it at home if you can. I have had soem decent around town but nothing very memorable.

                                        Best Carne in a street taco style is at Tacos El Poblano in Chula Vista. They also make arguably the best adobada there as well. The mulitas are decent also.

                                        Cabesa tacos... this may be surprising but check out Manana's in Ramona.

                                        The best carnitas is in Poway at, of all places: El Ranchito...I know: completely unexpected.

                                        I dare you to find better. I have eaten at least 5,000 tacos in my life, used to own a home in Mexico and spent at least a third of the year between Mexicali and Rosarito. I know a damn good taco when I see one. Try Tacos Ocotlan in Mexicali or La Araiza hotel restaurant buffet for some incredible Mexican food.

                                        The above places are the best AUTHENTIC Baja tacos. you can find some others that are good, but none that taste like the south of the border variety quite like these ones.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: thegunsmith

                                          Rigobertos in La Mesa, is that the one on Jackson about a 1/2 block north of Fletcher Parkway?

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            Yes. It's a super unlikely place, but worth a visit. North West "corner" You have to turn onto Jackson, North from Fletcher then make a "u-turn" 300 feet or so up Jackson, and end up in the parking lot after that.

                                            1. re: thegunsmith

                                              This is great! I love a good dare.

                                              your post above is great btw, thanks for the recomendations, i'm gonna try tomorrow.

                                              KC

                                              1. re: thegunsmith

                                                Used to be a Taco Bell, I've driven by it hundreds of times. Only been open about a year +/-. Nice to know it's worth a stop, I've always wondered

                                            2. re: thegunsmith

                                              New York poster here, but had a meeting in Poway. So, I had to try El Ranchito. First, let me say the taco scene in NYC is pathetic and such notables as Tehuitzingo are mediocre to me, so I may not be the arbiter of great tacos although I like to think I know great food.

                                              All this said, I thought El Ranchito rocked. I thought the Carnitas to be really good, but the star for me was the Cabeza. A lot of times, Cabeza tacos come with this mushy gunk, but these were for the most part chock full of what I thought to be cheek. Rich, tender, flavorful meat. My co-worker also greatly enjoyed the Pollo Asado. The Carne Asada was fine enough but nothing special. I love the marinades for these meats, which really sealed the deal.

                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                I had the worst burrito I ever ate in New York. You can get anything you want in NYC except for a decent CAB.

                                            3. Also curious about why to avoid Alambres...I'm in San Diego near Gaslamp (and without a car) for the next few days...was wondering the same question as OP re: authentic tacos. Can anyone else speak to/for/against Alambres?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: nycreba

                                                Alambres has been closed for quite some time.

                                              2. Just thought I'd let you guys know that I went back to Tacos El Poblano today on Third Ave. in Chula Vista for lunch. (This hot weather always makes me want tacos)

                                                They are still really really good tacos de carne asada and their consomee is stunningly delicious. It's a incredible fusion of beef, dried red chile, and charred roasted tomato thats filling and sustaining. It makes a great palate refresher after each bite of taco.

                                                The taste of tacos here is the closest I've had to Tj level of standard.

                                                1. The tacos from the German Taco Truck in Logan Heights is probably the best I've had in SD.

                                                  1. I lived in Bonita, CA for twelve years and this was our very favorite taco shop. In fact, I'll be there with my family next weekend (I live in Texas now), and it is probably the first place we will go after we pick up the rental car. I love the chicken chimichangas. We all love some things that are "off the menu." The owner, Dave, makes chile relleno burritos with rice and beans inside the burrito. The chicken tacos are good; in fact, the tacos I make at home are based on Dave's technique which is to deep fry the chicken in side the taco before adding the lettuce and cheese. We love this place, and it couldn't be closer to you.

                                                    -----
                                                    Taco Salsa Taco Shop
                                                    925 E Plaza Blvd Ste B, National City, CA 91950

                                                    2 Replies