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Taco secrets waiting to be whispered

Darker and steamier than a midsummer Mexico City night

El Borrego Mixiote
El Borrego Mixiote
Place

TJ Oyster Bar

4246 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA

TJ Oyster Bar

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes the TJ Oyster Bar fish taco superlative, but I think it comes down to the batter. It always manages to remain light and delicate without spreading out from the taco into a deep-fried starburst. The result is a perfectly encapsulated nugget of fish, tucked into its tortilla like a swaddled babe, or a happily cocooned butterfly ready to burst forth into something beautiful. After a round of cocteles and oysters from the raw bar, a few fish tacos and a cold clamato here is as good as it gets.

Place

Matador Mexican Grill

5201 Linda Vista Road, San Diego

Matador Mexican Grill

USD kids know. The barbacoa street tacos here are legit. They come with a big bowl of lamb broth. Taco savage that I am, I like to soak the entire taco in the broth, so that it turns into a drippy, fatty, messy, super-savory association of meats and juices, commingled into one lambtastic celebration of Mexican fast food. It ends in catastrophic fashion half the time — lamb shreds and juice everywhere — but it’s worth it. The carnitas and buche tacos are a great backup if you come hungry and there’s no barbacoa to be had.

El Zarape — potato/lengua/carne/calamari tacos
Place

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant

3201 Adams Avenue, San Diego

El Zarape

Among the many Zarapes, only at the big El Zarape can you get the potato-mole taco. As tacos go, it has the je ne sais quoi magic of rich, zesty mole, soft potato, and crispy cabbage. The whole thing works perfectly, and, as a bonus, it’s super cheap during happy hour. Goes great with a tamarindo margarita. You won’t lose with any other taco here, but the potato-mole is a winner, for sure. I also dig the fried calamari taco with “cusabi” sauce.

Place

Deleted

delete, San Diego

El Borrego

Darker and steamier than a midsummer Mexico City night, every order of mixiote de borrego sits in its broth and little tinfoil shrine like a secret waiting to be whispered to a confidant, or a rumor percolating just beneath the surface. It’s also not a bad deal, because a $14.99 order will make six tacos and feed two for lunch. Add a little cactus salad and the deal is done. If lamb isn’t your thing, go for the cochinita pibil and shift your attentions momentarily toward the Yucatán. If the place has a flaw, it’s that the sidewalks roll up at 6 p.m.

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Unexpendable Rambo

The first and fourth foray
El Borrego Mixiote
El Borrego Mixiote
Place

TJ Oyster Bar

4246 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA

TJ Oyster Bar

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes the TJ Oyster Bar fish taco superlative, but I think it comes down to the batter. It always manages to remain light and delicate without spreading out from the taco into a deep-fried starburst. The result is a perfectly encapsulated nugget of fish, tucked into its tortilla like a swaddled babe, or a happily cocooned butterfly ready to burst forth into something beautiful. After a round of cocteles and oysters from the raw bar, a few fish tacos and a cold clamato here is as good as it gets.

Place

Matador Mexican Grill

5201 Linda Vista Road, San Diego

Matador Mexican Grill

USD kids know. The barbacoa street tacos here are legit. They come with a big bowl of lamb broth. Taco savage that I am, I like to soak the entire taco in the broth, so that it turns into a drippy, fatty, messy, super-savory association of meats and juices, commingled into one lambtastic celebration of Mexican fast food. It ends in catastrophic fashion half the time — lamb shreds and juice everywhere — but it’s worth it. The carnitas and buche tacos are a great backup if you come hungry and there’s no barbacoa to be had.

El Zarape — potato/lengua/carne/calamari tacos
Place

El Zarape Mexican Restaurant

3201 Adams Avenue, San Diego

El Zarape

Among the many Zarapes, only at the big El Zarape can you get the potato-mole taco. As tacos go, it has the je ne sais quoi magic of rich, zesty mole, soft potato, and crispy cabbage. The whole thing works perfectly, and, as a bonus, it’s super cheap during happy hour. Goes great with a tamarindo margarita. You won’t lose with any other taco here, but the potato-mole is a winner, for sure. I also dig the fried calamari taco with “cusabi” sauce.

Place

Deleted

delete, San Diego

El Borrego

Darker and steamier than a midsummer Mexico City night, every order of mixiote de borrego sits in its broth and little tinfoil shrine like a secret waiting to be whispered to a confidant, or a rumor percolating just beneath the surface. It’s also not a bad deal, because a $14.99 order will make six tacos and feed two for lunch. Add a little cactus salad and the deal is done. If lamb isn’t your thing, go for the cochinita pibil and shift your attentions momentarily toward the Yucatán. If the place has a flaw, it’s that the sidewalks roll up at 6 p.m.

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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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