Quantcast
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

Tacos de Barbarella

Ortega's, Cantina Mayahuel, Kensington Cafe, El Zarape, Cocina 35, Barrio Star

Barrio Star — tacos plus jalepeño blackberry margarita - Image by Matthew Suárez
Barrio Star — tacos plus jalepeño blackberry margarita

Tacos may have been designed to be eaten on the go, but I prefer to take my time toggling between tacos and tequila, ideally a nice añejo. While I enjoy a compact street taco from a sidewalk vendor or food truck, I much prefer to enjoy my savory prize-packed tortillas while seated and served. Sure, there’s a surcharge for table service and a la carte tacos aren’t an option at all restaurants, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to slow down and savor your tacos. Here are my standbys for tremendous tacos in a stress-free setting.

Place

Ortega's Bistro

141 University Avenue, San Diego

A restaurant that looks and feels like it belongs a few miles over in Old Town, without all the frazzled looking tourists. Here I can relax beneath a canopy of bougainvillea on a quiet patio, sip on a tamarind margarita, and luxuriate in a plate of Poblano Queso Tacos ($10.99). For these cheese and veggie-centric tacos, Oaxacan cheese is melted onto soft, homemade corn tortillas and buried beneath a pile of sautéed poblano chiles, sweet and savory caramelized onions, earthy and refreshing black bean corn salsa, all topped with a blend of cotija and fresco cheese, with just enough saltiness to enhance the flavors of everything beneath it.

Place

Cantina Mayahuel

2934 Adams Avenue, San Diego

You know a place has cred when it’s packed with restaurant industry peeps, as Cantina Mayahuel often is (especially on Mondays, the day off for many chefs). Extensive tequila and mezcal offerings aside, this cozy, always-crowded cantina continues to hold the title for my favorite tacos in town. Namely, the chicken ($4.50), which is grilled with tartly sweet pineapple juice and smoky chipotle sauce then topped with cabbage, tropical salsa, crema, and a sprinkle of a deeply rich hot sauce. It comes with ancho mayo, but this mayo-averse taco lover has hers without, and there’s still a pleasant mixture of flavors.

Place

Kensington Café

4141 Adams Avenue, San Diego

The only place on my list that is not all about tacos (or even Mexican food), Kensington Cafe still serves them up right. Though the dinner menu features carnitas (pulled pork, pickled onions, avocado, arugula, feta and crema for $13) and unique fish tacos (salmon, topped with seasonal fruit salsa for $12.95), my favorite is the lunch-only option, Pio Pico Tacos ($10.50) served with a side of black beans. In these soft flour tortilla tacos is savory soyrizo, creamy ripe avocado, and soft, chewy chunks of potato, topped with crema and green onions. Because this plate is on the brunch menu, you can add scrambled eggs for $2.50, though I prefer mine without.

Place

El Zarape

4642 Park Boulevard, San Diego

This casual neighborhood joint serves quintessential Cali-Mex including an array of seafood taco options including shrimp, salmon, scallop, lobster, mahi-mahi, and calamari. Less greasy than our bounty of 24-hour ‘berto options, here I can rest assured that the fish will taste fresh, the veggies will be bright and colorful, and the chicken and beef will have been liberated from gristle. Most of the tacos are served with shredded cabbage, big hunks of tomato, shredded jack cheese, and a small stream of crema. And the best part? The battered and fried fish tacos are only a buck each.

Place

Cocina 35

1435 SIxth Avenue, San Diego

Known mostly for its famous chilaquiles, this modern looking “old school Mexican” spot serves up tacos de guisado, which means that, just like when Mom is cooking, the braised meats and stew fillings for your tortilla change as regularly as suits the chef. You create your taco plate (3 tacos, rice, and beans, $10.50) by choosing handmade corn or flour tortillas and the guisado of your choice. Ideally, the house special, cocinita pibil, will be on offer. This slow-roasted, mixed spice pork is a rich, savory and sweet delicacy that hails from the Yucatán Peninsula, but tastes right at home in San Diego.

Place

Barrio Star

2706 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

As whimsical and colorful as a scene out of last year’s popular animated flick Coco, Barrio Star feeds your eyes as well as your stomach. Here there are ten taco plates to choose from, each carrying three tacos with homemade corn tortillas. Among my favorite are the carnitas tacos ($13.75), with oven-baked pork that is tender and not too greasy, avocado sauce, the mild chile guajillo, topped with fresh onion and cilantro. Whichever you choose, the carnitas, grilled chicken, or even the shrimp tacos with Thai slaw all pair well with the Roasted Jalepeño Blackberry margarita.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

It's back – Lilac Hills near Valley Center

Not on the agenda, but...
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Barrio Star — tacos plus jalepeño blackberry margarita - Image by Matthew Suárez
Barrio Star — tacos plus jalepeño blackberry margarita

Tacos may have been designed to be eaten on the go, but I prefer to take my time toggling between tacos and tequila, ideally a nice añejo. While I enjoy a compact street taco from a sidewalk vendor or food truck, I much prefer to enjoy my savory prize-packed tortillas while seated and served. Sure, there’s a surcharge for table service and a la carte tacos aren’t an option at all restaurants, but that’s a small price to pay for the ability to slow down and savor your tacos. Here are my standbys for tremendous tacos in a stress-free setting.

Place

Ortega's Bistro

141 University Avenue, San Diego

A restaurant that looks and feels like it belongs a few miles over in Old Town, without all the frazzled looking tourists. Here I can relax beneath a canopy of bougainvillea on a quiet patio, sip on a tamarind margarita, and luxuriate in a plate of Poblano Queso Tacos ($10.99). For these cheese and veggie-centric tacos, Oaxacan cheese is melted onto soft, homemade corn tortillas and buried beneath a pile of sautéed poblano chiles, sweet and savory caramelized onions, earthy and refreshing black bean corn salsa, all topped with a blend of cotija and fresco cheese, with just enough saltiness to enhance the flavors of everything beneath it.

Place

Cantina Mayahuel

2934 Adams Avenue, San Diego

You know a place has cred when it’s packed with restaurant industry peeps, as Cantina Mayahuel often is (especially on Mondays, the day off for many chefs). Extensive tequila and mezcal offerings aside, this cozy, always-crowded cantina continues to hold the title for my favorite tacos in town. Namely, the chicken ($4.50), which is grilled with tartly sweet pineapple juice and smoky chipotle sauce then topped with cabbage, tropical salsa, crema, and a sprinkle of a deeply rich hot sauce. It comes with ancho mayo, but this mayo-averse taco lover has hers without, and there’s still a pleasant mixture of flavors.

Place

Kensington Café

4141 Adams Avenue, San Diego

The only place on my list that is not all about tacos (or even Mexican food), Kensington Cafe still serves them up right. Though the dinner menu features carnitas (pulled pork, pickled onions, avocado, arugula, feta and crema for $13) and unique fish tacos (salmon, topped with seasonal fruit salsa for $12.95), my favorite is the lunch-only option, Pio Pico Tacos ($10.50) served with a side of black beans. In these soft flour tortilla tacos is savory soyrizo, creamy ripe avocado, and soft, chewy chunks of potato, topped with crema and green onions. Because this plate is on the brunch menu, you can add scrambled eggs for $2.50, though I prefer mine without.

Place

El Zarape

4642 Park Boulevard, San Diego

This casual neighborhood joint serves quintessential Cali-Mex including an array of seafood taco options including shrimp, salmon, scallop, lobster, mahi-mahi, and calamari. Less greasy than our bounty of 24-hour ‘berto options, here I can rest assured that the fish will taste fresh, the veggies will be bright and colorful, and the chicken and beef will have been liberated from gristle. Most of the tacos are served with shredded cabbage, big hunks of tomato, shredded jack cheese, and a small stream of crema. And the best part? The battered and fried fish tacos are only a buck each.

Place

Cocina 35

1435 SIxth Avenue, San Diego

Known mostly for its famous chilaquiles, this modern looking “old school Mexican” spot serves up tacos de guisado, which means that, just like when Mom is cooking, the braised meats and stew fillings for your tortilla change as regularly as suits the chef. You create your taco plate (3 tacos, rice, and beans, $10.50) by choosing handmade corn or flour tortillas and the guisado of your choice. Ideally, the house special, cocinita pibil, will be on offer. This slow-roasted, mixed spice pork is a rich, savory and sweet delicacy that hails from the Yucatán Peninsula, but tastes right at home in San Diego.

Place

Barrio Star

2706 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

As whimsical and colorful as a scene out of last year’s popular animated flick Coco, Barrio Star feeds your eyes as well as your stomach. Here there are ten taco plates to choose from, each carrying three tacos with homemade corn tortillas. Among my favorite are the carnitas tacos ($13.75), with oven-baked pork that is tender and not too greasy, avocado sauce, the mild chile guajillo, topped with fresh onion and cilantro. Whichever you choose, the carnitas, grilled chicken, or even the shrimp tacos with Thai slaw all pair well with the Roasted Jalepeño Blackberry margarita.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Will Carlsbad's State Street go pedestrian-only?

Restaurants hope yes, retail hopes no
Next Article

Mother's Saloon in OB is closing its doors

After almost a decade, no lease renewal
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close