Taco Bout It San Diego, California
This is my second post about great taco spots in California because, well...tacos are one of my favorite foods. My first post focused on delicious tacos in the Bay Area. This post takes us south to San Diego, which is reputed to have some of the best tacos in the state.
Puesto is an award-winning restaurant, owned and operated by a first-generation Mexican-American family that describes themselves as having been "immersed in authentic, Mexican cooking since childhood." Their passion and skill in making Mexican-style tacos comes through in every one of the 11, creative tacos on their regular menu, and more on their secret menu.
Puesto's Michelin-rated, original location opened in La Jolla, California in 2012 and since then, Puesto has sold over 20 million tacos and given over $1 million of its proceeds to charities. If you are in La Jolla, stop by the original location, and if not, Puesto has other locations throughout California.
Crackling Pork Magic, Chile, Lime
Lobster, Crispy Onions, Jalapeño Pico, Serrano and Cilantro Crema
Spring Lamb Barbacoa
Braised Leg of Lamb, Mint Avocado Salsa, Nopales Pico, Herb Salad
Beer-Battered, Local Line-Caught Fish, Shredded Cabbage, Classic Guacamole, Crema, Morita Salsa
Ribeye Marinated Ribeye, Asada Pico, Tomatillo-árbol Salsa, Queso Fresco
California Burrito Taco (on the secret menu)
Crispy, Melted Cheese, Filet Mignon, Guacamole, Salsa Quemada, Jalapeño Pico, Baja Crema, Crispy Potatoes, and Cilantro
Oscar's Mexican Seafood
Oscar's Mexican Seafood's original location is in San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is located near a smoke shop and a dive bar, just blocks from the beach. The portions are big, the prices are low and the food is excellent.
With frequently large crowds, you are lucky to get a seat at the counter. Getting the food to go is always an option, or you can visit Oscar's other San Diego locations which have larger dining areas. The ceviche, tortas and burritos all get glowing reviews, but tacos take center stage at Oscar's.
Smoked fish taco with cabbage, avocado, cheese and a drizzle of their exquisite salsa
I will admit that I was dubious about a smoked fish taco. All I could envision was smoked salmon in a tortilla. I am so glad I overcame my hesitancy and trusted my cousin, who assured me that this taco was a must-try.
Not only do I agree, but this is my favorite taco at Oscar's. The pink fish is packed with flavor that reminds me of the smokey-ness and sea spray smell of campfires on the beach.
Grilled octopus taco with cabbage, onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado and cheese
Spicy, grilled shrimp taco with cabbage, onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado and cheese
This Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant is located in downtown San Diego. The restaurant is owned and run by Tijuana-born, former, professional soccer player, Frank Vizcarra. Vizcarra studied taco culture by visiting restaurants in California, Texas, New York and Mexico. While he found great tacos, he noted that "nobody was doing high quality at a reasonable price,” which is what he set out to accomplish by opening Lola 55. I would argue that he succeeded. The tacos are great and all under $6.
Pork shoulder confit, crisped maciza, shaved tomatillo, avocado mousse, pickled red onion, cilantro
The pork for this taco, I later learned, was smoked for four days.
Local fish, remoulade, chorizo-tomato vinaigrette, pickled serrano, frisée, purple basil
¡Salud Tacos! is located in the heart of San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood, about 20 minutes from the Mexican border. The restaurant was opened by Ernie Becerra who describes his family, who settled in Barrio Logan almost 125 years ago, as “old-school Chicano.” As a restauranteur, he started humbly with a taco cart that served fish and birria tacos. Those two tacos, and more, are on the menu at ¡Salud!, which he opened in 2015.
The restaurant is not just serving up great tacos, like these five (described in detail below) that we ordered to share. They also showcase work by local artists.
Beer-battered white fish served on a handmade corn tortilla with mixed cabbage, topped with cotija cheese, pico de gallo and house-made chipotle crema.
Shrimp grilled in ¡Salud's! famous red, "clasica" sauce with melted cheese, sliced avocado, crema and a touch of cabbage.
Taco de Barrio and Birria Taco
Taco de Barrio: Carne Guisada (braised beef with bell pepper, onions, and potato) topped with frijol, nopal and crema, wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Prior to this experience, I had relegated pinto beans to burritos, bell peppers to fajitas, and potatoes to nothing I had experienced in this food genre. The chef's combining them in this flour tortilla was genius. This was (unexpectedly) my favorite taco at ¡Salud!
Birria Taco: Shredded pork braised in dried chile and Mexican spices in a flash fried corn tortilla, topped with lettuce, onions, cilantro and cotija cheese.
Seared asada steak topped with seared nopal, jalapeño spear, sliced onion, tomato and avocado.
That's it for this taco post. I will definitely "taco bout it" again, in a post highlighting another area of California, serving more great tacos.