Tacos Perla octopus
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Galaxy Taco

2259 Avenida de La Playa, La Jolla

Galaxy Taco

If you believe it’s heresy to pay more than $7 for a combo plate, Galaxy Taco is not for you. If you want really high-quality tacos that linger in memory, Galaxy Taco is a good call. The grilled steak taco ($5.50) is a smoky combination of tender meat and crispy char. Mmm, char. The lengua taco, usually available only at lunch, is braised beef with cream avocado and salsa verde. It’s not a taco, but the avocado tostada ($10) is highly recommended, thanks to the brilliant addition of roasted lime-and-chili crickets that add a bacony flavor. One of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Banzai Bar

3048 Midway Drive, Point Loma

Banzai Bar

Usually, veggie tacos are an afterthought on the menu meant to please the non-meat-eating member of the dining party. At Banzai Bar, a slightly upscale hole-in-the-wall in the heart of the Midway District, the artichoke tacos ($6.95) are the star of the menu. Crispy and tender artichoke hearts served with pineapple salsa and a creamy cilantro sauce and topped with jalapeño peppers are a secret waiting to break out big. They are an excellent match with Banzai’s other secret weapon: the Smokeshow, a smoky and sweet mezcal cocktail made with blackberry Pimm’s and pineapple juice.

Hotel Palomar San Diego

1047 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego

Curadero

Curadero

Curadero

Located in the Palomar Hotel, Curadero is a new addition to San Diego’s taco scene. Tacos come three to a plate à la carte and you can mix and match to your delight. The fish taco changes nightly, depending on the fish. The grouper was tender with a jalapeño cream sauce that packs a punch, while the Suadero is a tangy mix of braised short rib, pickled onions, and chipotle peanut salsa. The veggie taco is a nice mix of grilled zucchini and crispy potatoes.

Cerveza Jack's

1165 Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach

Cerveza Jack’s

Cerveza Jack’s is a fun beach-type bar straight out of a Kenny Chesney album, with lots of bar games like ping pong, cornhole, and Jenga. Taco-wise, the Chile Verde taco ($5) is tangy and salty, thanks to the creamy queso fresco sauce. The Cheeseburger Taco has spicy ground beef, fried cheese, and avocado sour cream as well as french fries. The Carne Asada Taco,with real guacamole and Oaxaca cheese, will make meat eaters happy.

Don Chido

527 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego

(No longer in business.)

Don Chido

Don Chido has perfectly good carne asada and carnitas tacos on its menu. I especially appreciated the char on the carnitas — the best part. Their Rajas Veggie Taco with peppers, corn, and mushrooms, is also first-rate, but where they really shine is on the specialty tacos they serve on Taco Tuesdays. The octopus taco wowed me — nicely charred, yet tender, tender, tender. Octopus is popping up on San Diego menus more frequently these days, and this is a great place to try it.

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