Fly fishing at Black's Beach, in Baja, hunting in Solana Beach, Gary Keating gives up on surfing, our garden on Fire Mountain Rd., raising cats, chickens
8:30 a.m., Sept. 22
This weekend, on a lark, I decided to drive a dozen miles out of my way just to hit up my favorite taco shop from my youth. Housed in an orange-and-yellow-striped barrel and situated just close enough to my alma mater, Morse High School, to be dangerous, Vaquero's in Encanto (a neighborhood completely unknown by anybody who hasn't lived there at some point in their life) was always my fave spot for king-sized burritos and a dish that was brand new back in my school-boy daze — carne asada nachos.
On the way there, I was nervous that I was wasting my time. I mean, after over a decade, there was a solid chance that the quality of the food had gone down or, worse yet, that the place had gone out of business entirely. After all, Vaquero's was special to me, but taco shops are a dime a dozen in SD and regularly change hands or disappear altogether. So, you can imagine my surprise when I rolled up to find a line of cars snaking out of the parking lot and along the slim westbound lane of Lisbon Street and off onto Flicker Street (in honor of that road's moniker, I've included a photo documenting the front end of the mile of cars).
During my time away, my humble li'l taco shop had become a neighborhood cult hit. My heart swelled in tandem with my appetite for the old top treat of my youth, a machaca burrito. It's one that was so good in my youth that it's ruined me for all others. Thankfully, not a thing has changed. The thing is still mammoth (16 inches long) and chocked full of an incredibly mixture of shredded marinated beef, scrambled eggs, sauteed onions and bell peppers (big chunks of these veggies and the perfect ratio of all of these ingredients as opposed to the pseudo-breakfast burrito versions most place serve) that took me right back to ditchin period four...and two, and three and five...can I blame that misbehavior on a budding affinity for food that would someday lead to a career as a food journalist? See, It all worked out Mr. Law!
Whether or not I get a pass for the past, this burrito is still something special and the kind of food I'd ditch work today to experience. In a town full of casual Mexican joints, this one's better than ever and worth waiting through an auto queue to get to. Hopefully, you'll enjoy it as much as I always have.