A "marlin" and "carne asada" taco — both vegan.
I'm fortunate to have my favorite fish tacos within easy reach. A Mariscos Nine Seas food truck sets up daily in what is now the Target Express parking lot, by the corner of Hawthorn and Fern streets in South Park. That's half a mile from my home, and many are the days I'll quit typing on my laptop to hop over for a taco or three.
A vegan taco truck parks beside a locals favorite fish taco truck in a South Park parking lot.
When it happened this week, I found a long line of other knowing taco fiends ahead of me. That's usually the case, and those Baja-style tacos are worth the wait. Except this time, I found an entire other taco truck sitting next to Mariscos.
A makeshift, fluorescent yellow cardboard sign explained the new truck's purpose: "Vegan tacos."
Turns out, this is another Mariscos truck, but it's being leased to La Taqueria Vegiee, a Tijuana-based shop covered by Matthew Suárez in this year's Reader taco issue. The vegan taco spot makes its own soy-based representations of traditional Mexican taco fillers, and it's taken up shop in South Park.
The woman taking orders in the truck's service window told me the official start date at this location is August 24, but here it was, ten days ahead of time at least, slinging vegan tacos and tortas. Hours are 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
I'll admit, suppressing my fish taco hankering wouldn't be easy, but the line at Taqueria Vegiee proved shorter, and service quicker. At $3.50 apiece, I opted for a "carne asada" taco, and one described as "marlin."
The marlin-styled taco featured a spicy, pink-orange crema and had green peas interspersed throughout the soy fish substitute. It didn't taste fishy, or smokey as I had hoped, and the texture proved chewier than well-cooked fish — even diced and grilled. It couldn't compare to the Mariscos tacos being devoured only a few feet away, but I enjoyed it well enough as a plant-based alternative.
The "carne asada," however, did a convincing carne asada. Cooked with onions, and topped by guacamole, the faux meat here possessed a mild nutty flavor, but like slightly greasy beef cooked to death on a griddle.
It may not hold up to anyone's favorite carne, but it's the kind of taco that meat eaters take for granted. I don't know how many vegans in the world feel like they're missing out on street tacos, but I'd wager most of them live in San Diego. And as of this month, so does La Taqueria Vegiee.