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Barbacoa by the bay

Harbor views and great tacos

Royal Rooster: small sign, big hit.
Royal Rooster: small sign, big hit.

Stellar fish tacos, excellent craft brews, and a harbor view: welcome to The Royal Rooster, one of my new favorite finds. You can find the eatery tucked away behind a parking lot at the far end of Quivira Basin, the sign with the picture of a rooster lets you know you’ve arrived. A walk-up kiosk showcases the menu, which is also displayed on multiple chalkboards on the far wall.

Place

Royal Rooster

1717 Quivira Rd, San Diego

Tacos dominate, but there are plenty of burritos, along with taquitos, nachos, and several vegetarian options.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I’d been here before and enjoyed it so much, I thought it deserved a second visit. This time, I asked the comrades behind the counter for their recommendations. In unison, they replied, “The barbacoa.” Smoked, spiced, and chili-infused beef brisket (that accounts for the smoky aromas I noticed outside the restaurant when we arrived) is slowly cooked, then shredded. Done. Besides the barbacoa taco, we ordered a fish taco, a tri-tip burrito, onion rings, and two beers to tame the heat.

We took a seat on the harbor-facing patio and waited for our name to be called. All the seating is outside, and in cooler weather, they place heaters nearby to keep you warm. I enjoyed the mellow vibe and friendly, low-key atmosphere. Dogs allowed, bonus!

The barbacoa and the onion rings

The fish tacos ($8), prepared Baja-style with locally caught rockfish, are beer batter-fried to perfection, crispy on the outside and steaming hot inside. A mountain of crunchy coleslaw, piled so high it could be a side, adorns the taco, making it a handful. All tacos and burritos are accompanied by a deep red, tomato-forward and medium hot salsa, plus tangy salsa verde.

Once I tasted the barbacoa taco ($10), I knew this would be my go-to the next time I returned. Simply dressed in pickled onion, jalapeno crema, queso fresco, and cilantro, it met all the criteria: superb flavor, tender and juicy meat, and an overall awesome bite.

The tri-tip burrito ($23) carries a hefty price, but it is huge, and bursts with tender beef, French fries, avocado, and cheddar cheese, perfect for packing into a fishing trip lunch. My chopped leftovers made a tasty hash with eggs for breakfast the next morning. At the other end of the price spectrum, the onion rings ($6) proved utterly irresistible. Fried in the same batter as the fish, the sweetness of the inner onion shines under the flawless outer crisp. Please order them!

I felt I hadn’t explored enough of Royal Rooster’s offering, so I went back and looked at the menu again. One thing caught my eye — the spicy squid salad ($13 for a bowlful) served with large, crunchy tortilla chips. Ginger, Thai chilis, cucumber, sesame seeds, and red onions united with the smoked squid slices. The marriage of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors makes it one sassy dish. I can imagine picking it up to serve as an appetizer at a home gathering.

Royal Rooster’s lineup of beers on tap is extensive, and they also feature margaritas, wine, and local ciders. Save room for the Thrifty ice cream!

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Royal Rooster: small sign, big hit.
Royal Rooster: small sign, big hit.

Stellar fish tacos, excellent craft brews, and a harbor view: welcome to The Royal Rooster, one of my new favorite finds. You can find the eatery tucked away behind a parking lot at the far end of Quivira Basin, the sign with the picture of a rooster lets you know you’ve arrived. A walk-up kiosk showcases the menu, which is also displayed on multiple chalkboards on the far wall.

Place

Royal Rooster

1717 Quivira Rd, San Diego

Tacos dominate, but there are plenty of burritos, along with taquitos, nachos, and several vegetarian options.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I’d been here before and enjoyed it so much, I thought it deserved a second visit. This time, I asked the comrades behind the counter for their recommendations. In unison, they replied, “The barbacoa.” Smoked, spiced, and chili-infused beef brisket (that accounts for the smoky aromas I noticed outside the restaurant when we arrived) is slowly cooked, then shredded. Done. Besides the barbacoa taco, we ordered a fish taco, a tri-tip burrito, onion rings, and two beers to tame the heat.

We took a seat on the harbor-facing patio and waited for our name to be called. All the seating is outside, and in cooler weather, they place heaters nearby to keep you warm. I enjoyed the mellow vibe and friendly, low-key atmosphere. Dogs allowed, bonus!

The barbacoa and the onion rings

The fish tacos ($8), prepared Baja-style with locally caught rockfish, are beer batter-fried to perfection, crispy on the outside and steaming hot inside. A mountain of crunchy coleslaw, piled so high it could be a side, adorns the taco, making it a handful. All tacos and burritos are accompanied by a deep red, tomato-forward and medium hot salsa, plus tangy salsa verde.

Once I tasted the barbacoa taco ($10), I knew this would be my go-to the next time I returned. Simply dressed in pickled onion, jalapeno crema, queso fresco, and cilantro, it met all the criteria: superb flavor, tender and juicy meat, and an overall awesome bite.

The tri-tip burrito ($23) carries a hefty price, but it is huge, and bursts with tender beef, French fries, avocado, and cheddar cheese, perfect for packing into a fishing trip lunch. My chopped leftovers made a tasty hash with eggs for breakfast the next morning. At the other end of the price spectrum, the onion rings ($6) proved utterly irresistible. Fried in the same batter as the fish, the sweetness of the inner onion shines under the flawless outer crisp. Please order them!

I felt I hadn’t explored enough of Royal Rooster’s offering, so I went back and looked at the menu again. One thing caught my eye — the spicy squid salad ($13 for a bowlful) served with large, crunchy tortilla chips. Ginger, Thai chilis, cucumber, sesame seeds, and red onions united with the smoked squid slices. The marriage of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors makes it one sassy dish. I can imagine picking it up to serve as an appetizer at a home gathering.

Royal Rooster’s lineup of beers on tap is extensive, and they also feature margaritas, wine, and local ciders. Save room for the Thrifty ice cream!

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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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Submit a free classified
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