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The waterfront beckons at Quiero

Seaport Village fun for locals again, thanks in part to tacos and beer

A waterfront beer and taco joint next to Tuna Harbor
A waterfront beer and taco joint next to Tuna Harbor

Nobody seems sure when a proposed three-billion-dollar overhaul of Seaport Village may eventually break ground. But a funny thing happened as the “mega redevelopment” has inched through many years of planning bureaucracy: the forty-year-old plaza its meant to replace became a more fun place to hang out.

Place

Quiero Tacos

879 W Harbor Dr Suite W14-E, San Diego

I had grown so accustomed to disregarding Seaport Village that I had to visit five or six times in the past year before I realized that the reason I keep going back is I’m enjoying myself. That it’s no longer the depressing tourist trap I used to hurry past while walking my dog, punctuated by hokey souvenir shops, abandoned storefronts, and empty calories. Thanks in part to an influx of new restaurants, the waterfront district has come out of the pandemic in better condition than it was before.

And it wouldn’t be San Diego if one of the venues weren’t dedicated to tacos and beer. At the north end of the Village, right beside Tuna Harbor, sits a Mike Hess Brewing taproom. To pair tacos with its beer, the taproom has enlisted the help of a brand called Quiero Tacos.

Carne asada taco, with pinto beans and guacamole

Actually, calling it a taproom undersells the venue. The “room” part of it is little more than a counter and kitchen. The true star of the Hess/Quiero shop is the shaded, waterfront patio, where dozens of customers may enjoy tacos and beer while looking out across the bay. I have to wonder if anyone who visited the small, Miramar industrial space where Mike Hess Brewing got its start, could ever have imagined the brewery pouring beers at such a fine, fresh-air location little more than a decade later.

As for Quiero, its menu runs deeper than I expected, featuring loads of starters in addition to fish and chips ($13.95), and a barbecue brisket sandwich ($11.50) characterized by sliced brisket analogous to crispy strips of bacon. Of course, the main attractions are a dozen meat and seafood tacos, plus a few vegetarian/vegan options, all served on homemade corn or flour tortillas.

Fish and chips from a taco kitchen

Some of them get creative and interesting, with toppings such as flambeed scallops with bacon and squash, ossobuco beef shank with mushrooms and garlic, and portobello mushroom with pasilla chilis. Birria-heads can also get their quesabirria fix.

I kept it relatively boring, sticking to taco industry standards of beef, fish, and avocado. The carne asada taco ($4.45) featured a heap of grilled beef dressed with guacamole and pinto beans. It didn’t look like anything special, but proved a flavorful taco, and a hefty one at that. The whole thing held together well on a fresh corn tortilla.

A leafy vegetarian taco, with tempura avocado

It’s rare that I appreciate a vegetarian taco, but Quiero’s tempura avocado ($4) caught and held my attention. It tricked me into eating more leafy greens than I’d ever expect on a corn tortilla, featuring plenty of arugula and microgreens, in addition to coleslaw. Credit Quiero’s satisfying trio of salsas for getting me through this veritable salad of a taco.

Baja fish taco and a view of the bay

Still, this close to the water, the best bet is the seafood taco menu. Whether the scallops, crispy shrimp, surf and turf, or the simple, Baja-style, fried fish taco ($3.75), which I happily embellished with the house mango salsa.

No one’s suggesting Seaport Village will make you forget your top neighborhood taco or beer joints, but this kind of spot is exactly what many of us needed, if only as a reminder that there are good times yet to be had in the Marina District, even before that multi-billion-dollar makeover makes it shiny.

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A waterfront beer and taco joint next to Tuna Harbor
A waterfront beer and taco joint next to Tuna Harbor

Nobody seems sure when a proposed three-billion-dollar overhaul of Seaport Village may eventually break ground. But a funny thing happened as the “mega redevelopment” has inched through many years of planning bureaucracy: the forty-year-old plaza its meant to replace became a more fun place to hang out.

Place

Quiero Tacos

879 W Harbor Dr Suite W14-E, San Diego

I had grown so accustomed to disregarding Seaport Village that I had to visit five or six times in the past year before I realized that the reason I keep going back is I’m enjoying myself. That it’s no longer the depressing tourist trap I used to hurry past while walking my dog, punctuated by hokey souvenir shops, abandoned storefronts, and empty calories. Thanks in part to an influx of new restaurants, the waterfront district has come out of the pandemic in better condition than it was before.

And it wouldn’t be San Diego if one of the venues weren’t dedicated to tacos and beer. At the north end of the Village, right beside Tuna Harbor, sits a Mike Hess Brewing taproom. To pair tacos with its beer, the taproom has enlisted the help of a brand called Quiero Tacos.

Carne asada taco, with pinto beans and guacamole

Actually, calling it a taproom undersells the venue. The “room” part of it is little more than a counter and kitchen. The true star of the Hess/Quiero shop is the shaded, waterfront patio, where dozens of customers may enjoy tacos and beer while looking out across the bay. I have to wonder if anyone who visited the small, Miramar industrial space where Mike Hess Brewing got its start, could ever have imagined the brewery pouring beers at such a fine, fresh-air location little more than a decade later.

As for Quiero, its menu runs deeper than I expected, featuring loads of starters in addition to fish and chips ($13.95), and a barbecue brisket sandwich ($11.50) characterized by sliced brisket analogous to crispy strips of bacon. Of course, the main attractions are a dozen meat and seafood tacos, plus a few vegetarian/vegan options, all served on homemade corn or flour tortillas.

Fish and chips from a taco kitchen

Some of them get creative and interesting, with toppings such as flambeed scallops with bacon and squash, ossobuco beef shank with mushrooms and garlic, and portobello mushroom with pasilla chilis. Birria-heads can also get their quesabirria fix.

I kept it relatively boring, sticking to taco industry standards of beef, fish, and avocado. The carne asada taco ($4.45) featured a heap of grilled beef dressed with guacamole and pinto beans. It didn’t look like anything special, but proved a flavorful taco, and a hefty one at that. The whole thing held together well on a fresh corn tortilla.

A leafy vegetarian taco, with tempura avocado

It’s rare that I appreciate a vegetarian taco, but Quiero’s tempura avocado ($4) caught and held my attention. It tricked me into eating more leafy greens than I’d ever expect on a corn tortilla, featuring plenty of arugula and microgreens, in addition to coleslaw. Credit Quiero’s satisfying trio of salsas for getting me through this veritable salad of a taco.

Baja fish taco and a view of the bay

Still, this close to the water, the best bet is the seafood taco menu. Whether the scallops, crispy shrimp, surf and turf, or the simple, Baja-style, fried fish taco ($3.75), which I happily embellished with the house mango salsa.

No one’s suggesting Seaport Village will make you forget your top neighborhood taco or beer joints, but this kind of spot is exactly what many of us needed, if only as a reminder that there are good times yet to be had in the Marina District, even before that multi-billion-dollar makeover makes it shiny.

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Previous article

BVM BBQ Grill Pizzeria: beef brisket in a Charles Dickens factory scene

This eatery has been set up in what was once a post office for the Encanto region
Next Article

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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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