7 Great Taco Joints in San Diego

San Diego is home to some of the best tacos in the USA due to a world beyond Rubio’s world famous fish taco and Old Town’s bastion of Mexican eateries rarely seen by tourists. Out there, away from the prying eye of technology, is a stellar collection of succulent meats and robust salsas whose only digital existence is relegated to the near beatific ravings of Yelpers. Below are seven temples of taco worship (in no particular order) not to be missed on your food pilgrimage to San Diego:

Pork Adobada: Photo courtesy of Yelper Jando S.

1. Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El Gordowas famous in Tijuana long before it opened its second location stateside in Chula Vista. Without a doubt, you want the pork adobada tacos. I can’t even begin to describe how good they are. Just go eat one. It costs all of $1.75.

Photo Courtesy of Yelper Tania K.

2. Las Cuatro Milpas

Las Cuatro Milpas holds down the lunch crowd in Barrio Logan. What to order? Anything that includes a tortilla. Tortillas are made on site and must be infused with love and magic, because there is no way just food tastes this good.

El Gobernador: photo courtesy of Yelper Tania K.

3. Marisco’s German Taco Truck 3

Marisco’s German Taco Truck 3 is on the move in City Heights and always worth hunting down. Try the Gobernador, full of fat, spicy shrimp, green peppers and onions with gooey cheese.

Fish Taco: Photo courtesy of Yelper Leonard L.

4. Cantina Mayahuel

Cantina Mayahuel in Normal Heights is a beautiful spot with an insane tequila selection (side note: they make my favorite margarita). It is more expensive than its taco shop cousins, which pays for the lovely space and high quality food. Go Mondays for all-night happy hour including $5 margaritas and 3 tacos for $6. Carnitas tacos are my favorite. They are marinated in pineapple juice for extra umpf!

5. Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre in Mission Hills is our most notable mention of the seven, having appeared on Man vs. Food in 2010. But it makes the taco list for an unlikely featherweight contender: the Flaco Taco. Marinated chicken is wrapped in a lettuce “tortilla” with vinegary, pickled onions to provide a delicious, nutritious winner.

Experimental Tradition at Puesto

6. Puesto

Puesto in La Jolla recently opened with an experimental take on traditional Mexican street fare. With a selection ranging from carne asada to soy chorizo potatoes, you get to choose any combination of grilled items and toppings – Chipotle style, for lack of a better term. I like to go with Huitlacoche (corn truffle) with grilled pineapple, and Jamaica salsa, but you can always go with pollo al pastor.

Carnitas Taco: photo courtesy of Yelper Tim M.

7. Karina’s Taco Shop

Karina’s Taco Shop, in Leucadia, might be further from the boarder, but it is no less authentic than Tacos el Gordo. The fish tacos are different from other restaurant offerings, so be warned, people tend to love them or hate them. The carne asada with guacamole is always a hit.

Well there you have it! Seven San Diego tacos not to be missed. But there are, of course, many more. What is your favorite taco in San Diego?

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About Maren

San Diego raised and New York City educated, I trained as a classical singer before switching to tourism marketing. Now I love telling the world about San Diego's diverse offerings, from live music to live uni. As a friend recently told me, "tough job."

What would you do on your ideal San Diego Day?

For me, a perfect day always involves something I haven't done before. And even though I grew up  in San Diego, there is SO much to do I can usually find a way to make any day ideal. Next on the list is paragliding at Torrey Pines. I also need to meet more people with boats. Anyone?

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

I am a sucker for street fairs, county fairs, music festivals and block parties. The weather is always nice, the food is always sinful and the people are always interesting. I've been to the San Diego County Fair 3 times already!!!

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Tacos. Why does this question not include tacos? Fish tacos, carne asada, carnitas, shrimp, lobster, chorizo, vegetarian- I don't care. Put it in a corn tortilla and give it to me. Or any creation by the fabulous Jason Knibb over at 9-10 Restaurant in La Jolla.

Latest music purchases for my iPod player are…

Confession: I don't buy! I Pandora. I love everything from Tuvan throat singing to Lady Gaga. But seriously, Mahler's 2nd Symphony. Listen to it. Then we can talk.

20 thoughts on “7 Great Taco Joints in San Diego

  1. Grab the catch of the day (grilled or fried) taco at Oscar’s in La Jolla! And wash it down with a Jamaica freshwater. Unreal.

  2. Lucha Libre deserved better! Their carne asada is fresh and charcoal grilled, unlike most competitors.

    • Their carne asada is definitely delicious. The list above isn’t in any particular order, just great places that deserve a mention. I love that everyone seems to have a loyal favorite! It’s hard for me to choose, I love all of the above for different reasons. My list could go on and on…and I haven’t even started on TJ!

  3. I’m very impressed with your selection Tacos the Gordo at numer 1 easy choice, also these are all true authentic places that are much better then El indio or Lolita’s, you get an A you know your mexican food.  One other place for you to try is Birria Don Rafas in Chula Vista awesome tj style beef and goat tacos also very cute girls……..

    • Thanks for the suggestion! I have never been to Birria Don Rafas but will definitely put it on my list. I had some awesome goat tacos the last time I was in TJ and would love to find a place stateside to enjoy.

  4. You seemed to miss Lolita’s Taco Shop in Chula Vista. Maybe the line was too long for you, but definately worth a visit.

    • Haha! Having grown up in La Mesa, I know ALL about “Teca.” I can’t even tell you how many breakfast burritos I’ve eaten there. I also really like their salsa.

  5. Of course everyone has there favorite and mine is Baja Oyster Bar on the outskirts of Imperial Beach. Great food cooked fresh and you can sit at the counter where the cooks are to see for yourself how fresh all of the ingredients are that go into your meal. 

  6. Los Tacos Oceanside and Señor Grubby’s…two of the best! Fresh lomo de res, great super-fresh salsa’s, and open late. I live in Burma most of the year and it’s the first, and last, thing I eat whenever come or go from San Diego. 

  7. I can’t believe neither El Indio Taco Shop nor Old Town Mexican Restaurant made your list … two of the BEST taco places in San Diego!

    • They are definitely awesome! I also love the fish taco at Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill right next to El Indio. We are lucky to have so many places in SD for great tacos.

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