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Taqueria Chabelita is somebody’s go-to Mexican restaurant

North Vista eatery wins fans with goat birria, huaraches, and carne asada

Goat birria tacos, served on freshly-made corn tortillas
Goat birria tacos, served on freshly-made corn tortillas

Earlier this year, I moved to a new neighborhood across town, and one by one I’ve been trying all the area taco shops. But I’m still trying to identify my new go-to. Everyone in San Diego needs that one, casual, Mexican eatery, close to home, where they can find a reliable answer to every (usually late night) taco or burrito craving. I’m still on the hunt for mine in East County, but I’m pretty sure I found one in Vista.

Place

Taqueria Chabelita

1587 E Vista Way, Vista

I’m talking deep Vista, far enough north on Vista Way to almost be Bonsall. It was chance — plus a few persuasive online reviews — that brought me to Taqueria Chabelita. It sits roughly in the middle of a nondescript shopping strip planted behind a 7-Eleven, so it’s not something I might have noticed while driving by. If anything, I might have spotted the tortilleria posted up a few doors down.

As it happens, Chabelita makes its own tortillas, too. And puts them to good use composing the usual variety of tacos, including birria de res (beef). But what drew my attention was a less common offering: goat birria. This nation’s current birria craze puts the focus on Tijuana-style beef, but the dish is said to have originated in the 16th century when Spanish colonists first introduced goat to the native population. In parts of Mexico, goat remains more common.

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A small shop on Vista Way near Bonsall

For $11.99, Taqueria Chabelita serves two goat birria tacos plus beans and rice. The seasoning’s not as intense as what I’ve gotten used to in the TJ beef tradition, but then, goat tends to add its own spin to the flavor of the dish. Somewhere between gamey and barnyard, the meat’s aromatic essence anchored the flavor, while fresh tortillas made these tacos sing.

Speaking of fresh masa, another unusual dish turns up further down the Chabelita menu: huaraches. For $10.99, you can get one with a choice of meats, and I went with the house favorite carne asada.

A huarache: made like a tostada, with a large piece of masa shaped like a sandal

It’s this carne that people crow about online, and biting into the huarache, I could easily understand why. The strips of beef are well seasoned and tender as a sirloin. Huaraches the tostada-like street food originated in Mexico City, where they’re named (and shaped) after a type of indigenous sandal. Well, the $10.99 huarache I got at Chabelita would have fit a large foot: along with the carne it was topped with pinto beans, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, and loads of crumbled cotija cheese.

Given it’s nearly an hour’s drive from my home, I’m about as likely to revisit Taqueria Chabelita often, as I am to find goat birria served at a worthy taco shop in my new neighborhood. But if I ever move to north Vista, I now know two reliable spots for goat tacos.

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Goat birria tacos, served on freshly-made corn tortillas
Goat birria tacos, served on freshly-made corn tortillas

Earlier this year, I moved to a new neighborhood across town, and one by one I’ve been trying all the area taco shops. But I’m still trying to identify my new go-to. Everyone in San Diego needs that one, casual, Mexican eatery, close to home, where they can find a reliable answer to every (usually late night) taco or burrito craving. I’m still on the hunt for mine in East County, but I’m pretty sure I found one in Vista.

Place

Taqueria Chabelita

1587 E Vista Way, Vista

I’m talking deep Vista, far enough north on Vista Way to almost be Bonsall. It was chance — plus a few persuasive online reviews — that brought me to Taqueria Chabelita. It sits roughly in the middle of a nondescript shopping strip planted behind a 7-Eleven, so it’s not something I might have noticed while driving by. If anything, I might have spotted the tortilleria posted up a few doors down.

As it happens, Chabelita makes its own tortillas, too. And puts them to good use composing the usual variety of tacos, including birria de res (beef). But what drew my attention was a less common offering: goat birria. This nation’s current birria craze puts the focus on Tijuana-style beef, but the dish is said to have originated in the 16th century when Spanish colonists first introduced goat to the native population. In parts of Mexico, goat remains more common.

Sponsored
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A small shop on Vista Way near Bonsall

For $11.99, Taqueria Chabelita serves two goat birria tacos plus beans and rice. The seasoning’s not as intense as what I’ve gotten used to in the TJ beef tradition, but then, goat tends to add its own spin to the flavor of the dish. Somewhere between gamey and barnyard, the meat’s aromatic essence anchored the flavor, while fresh tortillas made these tacos sing.

Speaking of fresh masa, another unusual dish turns up further down the Chabelita menu: huaraches. For $10.99, you can get one with a choice of meats, and I went with the house favorite carne asada.

A huarache: made like a tostada, with a large piece of masa shaped like a sandal

It’s this carne that people crow about online, and biting into the huarache, I could easily understand why. The strips of beef are well seasoned and tender as a sirloin. Huaraches the tostada-like street food originated in Mexico City, where they’re named (and shaped) after a type of indigenous sandal. Well, the $10.99 huarache I got at Chabelita would have fit a large foot: along with the carne it was topped with pinto beans, lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo, and loads of crumbled cotija cheese.

Given it’s nearly an hour’s drive from my home, I’m about as likely to revisit Taqueria Chabelita often, as I am to find goat birria served at a worthy taco shop in my new neighborhood. But if I ever move to north Vista, I now know two reliable spots for goat tacos.

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Dec. 12, 2021
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