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The rise of octopus

Nicely charred, yet tender, tender, tender.

Tacos Perla octopus
Tacos Perla octopus
Place

Galaxy Taco

2259 Avenida de La Playa, San Diego

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.

Place

Banzai Bar

3048 Midway Drive, San Diego

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.

Place

Hotel Palomar San Diego

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

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.

Place

Cerveza Jack's

1165 Garnet Avenue, San Diego

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.

Place

Don Chido

527 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

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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Tacos Perla octopus
Tacos Perla octopus
Place

Galaxy Taco

2259 Avenida de La Playa, San Diego

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.

Place

Banzai Bar

3048 Midway Drive, San Diego

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.

Place

Hotel Palomar San Diego

1047 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

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.

Place

Cerveza Jack's

1165 Garnet Avenue, San Diego

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.

Place

Don Chido

527 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

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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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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