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The little taco stand that started it all

Sit at the bar and people-watch while you shovel a few tacos into your mouth.

Duck Dive citrus filet taco - Image by Matthew Suárez
Duck Dive citrus filet taco
Place

Taco Stand Encinitas

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.

Place

Brigantine La Mesa

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.

Place

Indio Mexican Restaurant

3695 India Street, San Diego

El Indio

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.

Place

Duck Dive

4650 Mission Boulevard, San Diego

Duck Dive

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.

Place

Hills

8758 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

The Hills

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.

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Duck Dive citrus filet taco - Image by Matthew Suárez
Duck Dive citrus filet taco
Place

Taco Stand Encinitas

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.

Place

Brigantine La Mesa

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.

Place

Indio Mexican Restaurant

3695 India Street, San Diego

El Indio

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.

Place

Duck Dive

4650 Mission Boulevard, San Diego

Duck Dive

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.

Place

Hills

8758 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa

The Hills

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.

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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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