642 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
The Taco Stand
One of the Taco Stand’s most eclectic tacos is the “Sonora Taco” which has its origins in the Northern Mexican state of Sonora, renowned for its beef. What makes it different from a basic taco is that it’s prepared with a flour tortilla instead of corn. The warm flour tortilla is topped with Angus beef, guacamole, onions, frijoles de la olla, cilantro, jack cheese, and fresh salsa. Unlike a burrito, the taco is not wrapped, but folded and served like… a taco. At $4.29, it’s a little steep, because you’ll want two or three.
9350 Fuerte Drive, La Mesa
Brigantine Seafood Restaurant
Yes, this place is always busy, at least partly because the tacos are primo. Sit at the bar and people-watch while you shovel a few of the Brig’s fish tacos into your mouth. The restaurant uses fresh cod from Alaska and places two large hunks of the flaky fish (battered and deep-fried) into a corn tortilla. Red cabbage slaw, salsa fresca, and ranch dressing are added and topped with mild cheddar cheese with a lime on the side. At $10.50 for two of these large tacos, you’ve got a great meal whether it’s Tuesday or not.
3695 India Street, Mission Hills
With all the fancy tacos out there, it’s easy to forget El Indio’s “taquito,” which pretty much means “little taco.” A little taco filled with Monterey jack cheese and fresh guacamole and big flavors. Oh, sure, you could get a taquito with beef or chicken, but it’s the little taco that oozes avocado on your shirt when you bite into it that started it all. The tortillas are fresh — you can watch them being made as you stand in line in the 25-by-75-foot store that has been around for 75 years. At $1.61 a pop, I recommended you eat at least five.
4650 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach
This Pacific Beach eatery has people standing in line to get in for the cocktails and the sports bar/beachy vibe, but it’s the tacos that will have you coming back again and again. Try the “citrus filet taco” — large pieces of filet mignon are immersed in a citrus marinade for hours and then grilled and wrapped in a fresh corn tortilla and garnished with thin slices of radish, avocado crema, and queso fresco. Three of these tangy tacos are served for $11, so you’ll have enough money left in your wallet for a Mexican beer.
8758 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
This local pub on La Mesa Boulevard serves up street tacos of chicken, carne asada, or mahi. I like all three, but my favorite is the carne asada. The thinly sliced, grilled, marinated skirt steak has me hooked. These four mini tacos for $9.95 are made with corn tortillas and filled with fresh salsa verde, cotija cheese, and served with a side of salsa. They pair well with the dozen or so local beers on tap.