I have written many times about my love of really good tacos, so it will come as no surprise that before leaving for San Diego I had a long list of taco places I wanted to visit. In particular, I wanted to try what might be the official food of San Diego, the fish taco. So, wasting no time, on our first night in the city my wife and I made our way to the downtown location of Puesto, a restaurant that consistently wins the “best fish taco” award in a couple of San Diego’s alternative weekly papers.
Another great thing about Puesto, and really all of the taco joints we would hit, is they offered great gluten free selections for my wife. Unfortunately, no Baja fish tacos (they’re normally breaded and fried), but she didn’t mind as she enjoyed (and happily shared!) her plate of chicken verde, carnitas and vegetable tacos (picture on the left). That drink in that picture was a mango margarita and hands down the best drink of the entire trip. My fish tacos (picture on the right) were incredible. The fish was perfectly fresh cod, battered using blood orange beer and topped with cabbage, chile cream, avocado and tomatillo roja. One night in, and I would have agreed to live in San Diego just to keep eating these tacos.
Day two in San Diego saw us working up quite the appetite on a beach walk north of the city. We headed to a Padres game that night, and luckily for me, the stadium has some pretty tasty street tacos. These carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa, onions and cilantro were very tasty and better than what you usually end up eating at a ballgame.
Day three of the trip had us cross the border into Mexico for a day trip to Tijuana. Not a word of a lie, the tacos we had for lunch in Tijuana were the most delicious tacos I have ever had. Scroll near the bottom of my post on our day in Tijuana for the details, or just feast your eyes on this crispy pork taco with guacamole, onions, cilantro and special sauce (I didn’t ask):
Day four was “Taco Tuesday” and we headed to Don Chido in the Gaslamp Quarter for some cheap tacos and margaritas. These were solid, if unspectacular tacos. They do a version of Baja fish tacos gluten free (most places don’t), so my wife got a taste of the San Diego staple here and liked it enough that for her second order of tacos she got another one. For her four tacos: 2 x Baja fish, a carnitas and a rajas poblano. For my four: fish, carne asada, chicken and rajas.
On to day five, and this night we ended up at La Puerta in the Gaslamp. My wife had a wide selection of their street tacos that were able to be done gluten free and she chose chicken, shrimp and carne asada tacos (picture on the right). I ordered cochinita, carnitas and pastor tacos, proving that I do think pig is the perfect taco filling. The cochinita taco was so good, that I ordered an extra one one even though I was well past stuffed.
Day six had us return to Puesto. It was so good on the first night that we violated our travel rule of never returning to the same place twice. Although I was tempted to order their fish tacos again, I couldn’t resist choosing three new tacos – cochinita pibil, carnitas and pastor. I loved the crispy cheese layer that came on a couple of those. My wife ordered two carnitas and a chicken verde. It wasn’t all tacos at Puesto – we actually ordered some side dishes too. The rice with epazote was especially delicious. The drinks here were top notch – my wife opted for another mango margarita and I took a night off from craft beer to have a paloma. If you only get a chance to visit one place in San Diego for tacos, make it Puesto, get the mango margarita, and you’ll be a happy person.
On our last day in San Diego, we grabbed a bite to eat at a microbrewery after a beach walk in Coronado. What goes better with a beer tasting than tacos? My last west coast tacos were carnitas, and by this point in the week I realized I had developed a sophisticated carnitas tacos palette.
Seven days with at least one feed of tacos every day. I’m not sure you can suffer withdrawal symptoms after a week of taco binge eating, but I do miss the ability to just pop into a place for a couple of good tacos. They’re really the perfect food, and eating them (almost) to the exclusion of everything else in San Diego was a great experience!