San Diego’s proximity to Mexico, its abundance of fresh ingredients, and the extension of the trolley’s Blue Line from the border in the south to La Jolla in the north have made the region a must-visit destination for trolley and taco lovers everywhere.
With an adult day pass costing as little as $6 through the Pronto app, the trolley also offers a low-cost way to see the sights and taste the bites that help make San Diego a unique destination — where every day can be a Taco Trolley day!
Stop 1 – UTC Trolley Station
A great place to start is at the new UTC Trolley station. This station not only offers easy access to some of the region’s best shopping at the Westfield UTC mall. It is also home to Tocaya Modern Mexican. This light, bright casual eatery is known for healthy fare and plenty of vegan options. The piña pastor is a standout. It’s an inventive mix of adobo tofu, vegan chipotle jack cheese, grilled pineapple salsa, red peppers, onions and arbol salsa.
Stop 2 – Clairemont Drive Trolley Station
Eight stops down is the Clairemont Drive Trolley station, where a short walk leads to Mike’s Red Tacos food truck. This new addition to the Bay Park neighborhood serves up its acclaimed birria tacos featuring locally sourced, fresh tortillas dipped in chili oil and crisped up for their signature red color. Mike’s Red Tacos is only open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until it sells out.
Stop 3 – Old Town Trolley Station
A few stops farther south is the Old Town Trolley Station, a gateway to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Old Town also has more than 30 neighboring restaurants. While many offer a wide range of cuisines, the most popular are traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes. Make sure to check out the new Old Town Urban Market This outdoor dining and entertainment complex six blocks from the station, is home to the Michelin-recognized Tuetano Taqueria, which specializes in slow-cooked, Tijuana-style beef birria tacos. For the adventurous epicurean, the much-heralded bone marrow taco is also a must-try.
Stop 4 – Washington Street Station
The very next trolley station is the Washington Street stop, where just up the hill sits Lucha Libre Taco Shop. The restaurant’s décor is inspired by the bright colors and distinctive masks of Mexican wrestling. And the menu features such dishes as the “undefeated seafood taco” and the birria quesa taco, with beef birria, melted cheese, onions, cilantro and salsa muerta. Call ahead to reserve the “Champ’s Booth”. It’s a table nestled into an outlandish gold vinyl booth complete with its own special menu.
Stop 5 – County Center/Little Italy Station
A couple of stops south on the Blue Line is the County Center/Little Italy station. Hop off and take an easy walk to King and Queen Cantina. This hip, art-filled eatery sits in the heart of San Diego’s lively Little Italy district. The eclectic menu features all kinds of specialty tacos. Order a Hot Cheetos asada taco, which comes with melted cheese, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, chipotle aioli, lime crema and green cabbage, topped with serrano sauce, red radish and cilantro.
Stop 6 – Santa Fe Station and Transfer to Green Line
One stop down is the historic Santa Fe Depot. At the station, catch a transfer to the Green Line for a quick trip to the Seaport Village station. A short walk from there is the picturesque Old Police Headquarters, which houses Puesto at the Headquarters. The restaurant chain, which started in San Diego, provides an innovative and contemporary approach to authentic Mexican cuisine. Puesto sources its ingredients locally and regionally for its Mexico City-inspired tacos. The filet mignon taco is a standout, prepared with a handmade blue-corn tortilla, Puesto’s signature crispy melted cheese, avocado and spicy pistachio serrano salsa.
Stop 7 – Gaslamp Quarter Station
Two stops away on the Green Line, trolley riders will find themselves in the heart of the action at the Gaslamp Quarter station. This historic downtown neighborhood is known for its eclectic and electric night life. A few blocks over and just steps away from Petco Park is The Blind Burro. Stop by to enjoy Baja coastal cuisine with handcrafted food in a relaxed atmosphere. Taco offerings include coffee-rubbed salmon, cilantro-lime grilled shrimp and vegetarian crispy spiced cauliflower.
Stop 8 – 12th and Imperial Station
One stop away from the Gaslamp is the 12th & Imperial station, which reconnects with the Blue Line. And a short ride on the Blue Line will transport taco lovers to the Barrio Logan neighborhood. Just past Chicano Park, which features more than 80 murals detailing the struggles and beauty of the Mexican-American community, is ¡SALUD TACOS! on Logan Avenue. Featured on the Travel Channel, the former taco truck is known for its authentic tacos, tattoo-inspired wall art and pinstriped car hoods. The restaurant’s menu pays homage to the street food of Northern Mexico with its own Chicano flare. The carne asada taco or the “classic street taco” is a rite of passage here, with marinated steak on a handmade corn tortilla, topped with guacamole, onions and cilantro.
Featured photo courtesy of Patrick Samokhvalof.