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Pepe's Produce is the must-stop spot

Ramona grocery store has (maybe) East County's best tacos

Pepe's tacos with cueritos and carne asada
Pepe's tacos with cueritos and carne asada
Place

Pepe's Produce

907 Main Street, Ramona

If Ramona has one must-stop spot, it’s Pepe’s Produce, a grocery store in an ex-Pizza Hut. The place may be the king of dingy little holes in the wall. It’s a little country store, with generic signs for EGGS and BANANAS stuck up in the windows. It hardly commands a second look.

But the inside tells the tale. The back of the produce market houses a short lunch counter by the soda coolers. In one corner, a cold-table bar filled with cilantro, onions, and very good salsas. Along the wall, the plancha, that sacred flat-top griddle, seasoned with the carbonized remains of a lifetime’s grilled meats.

Less than $2 each, Pepe’s tacos could have been transported straight from the linea, or a TJ street corner, exiled “up the hill” (as the say in Ramona) and hidden there, unwary fools from “down the hill” (i.e. in San Diego) left none the wiser.

The beauty of Pepe’s tacos is in the variety, not what you’d expect in downtown Ramona, though the former turkey capital has more to show for itself than some people give it credit. Sure, they serve beef and chicken, but also lengua, tripa, cabeza, and even the formidable tacos de buches. Each one petite, just a few good mouthfuls, so that it’s possible to eat a variety. Who says you need to go to KFfC to eat a variety of chicken meats?

The absolute must-try taco is cueritos, cured pig skin. Most recognizable as the little curlicues in an order of tostilocos, the cueritos in Pepe’s tacos have been pickled and then grilled. The deep, savory flavor is subtler than fatty chicharrón, but still unmistakably porky. Loaded up with chopped cilantro and a combination of spicy red and refreshing green salsas, it’s heaven.

Order at the counter, eat, and then pay at the register on the way out. Good country living at its best.

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Pepe's tacos with cueritos and carne asada
Pepe's tacos with cueritos and carne asada
Place

Pepe's Produce

907 Main Street, Ramona

If Ramona has one must-stop spot, it’s Pepe’s Produce, a grocery store in an ex-Pizza Hut. The place may be the king of dingy little holes in the wall. It’s a little country store, with generic signs for EGGS and BANANAS stuck up in the windows. It hardly commands a second look.

But the inside tells the tale. The back of the produce market houses a short lunch counter by the soda coolers. In one corner, a cold-table bar filled with cilantro, onions, and very good salsas. Along the wall, the plancha, that sacred flat-top griddle, seasoned with the carbonized remains of a lifetime’s grilled meats.

Less than $2 each, Pepe’s tacos could have been transported straight from the linea, or a TJ street corner, exiled “up the hill” (as the say in Ramona) and hidden there, unwary fools from “down the hill” (i.e. in San Diego) left none the wiser.

The beauty of Pepe’s tacos is in the variety, not what you’d expect in downtown Ramona, though the former turkey capital has more to show for itself than some people give it credit. Sure, they serve beef and chicken, but also lengua, tripa, cabeza, and even the formidable tacos de buches. Each one petite, just a few good mouthfuls, so that it’s possible to eat a variety. Who says you need to go to KFfC to eat a variety of chicken meats?

The absolute must-try taco is cueritos, cured pig skin. Most recognizable as the little curlicues in an order of tostilocos, the cueritos in Pepe’s tacos have been pickled and then grilled. The deep, savory flavor is subtler than fatty chicharrón, but still unmistakably porky. Loaded up with chopped cilantro and a combination of spicy red and refreshing green salsas, it’s heaven.

Order at the counter, eat, and then pay at the register on the way out. Good country living at its best.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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