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New Orleans has its po'boys, Chicago loves its pizza, Philly takes pride in its cheesesteaks. And San Diego? It's all about tacos — a nod to the city's beach lifestyle and Baja neighbors.
Tacos are the ultimate expression of San Diego's cross-border cuisine — born of our proximity to Mexico, along with an abundance of fresh fish, local produce, wood-smoked meats and zesty salsas and sauces. There's a taco here for everyone — whether it's served up at a sleek, chic downtown eatery or a no-frills beachside outpost. Here are seven of our favorite spots for the tastiest.
This growing mini-chain's menu shifts about as quickly as its tacos get gobbled up — a popular pastime at Puesto's locations in downtown, Mission Valley and La Jolla. The company also runs two stands in the Padres' Petco Park, serving up Puesto's signature Cadillac margs along with tacos and more.
The tamarindo shrimp, filet mignon and veggie-centric verduras, with its mélange of tatume squash, nopales, zucchini blossom and more.
Haggo's Organic Taco
A relative newcomer to the Leucadia neighborhood of Encinitas, Haggo's earned some national buzz after Guy Fieri featured the restaurant on the popular TV show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," calling its tacos "bordering on gourmet." The fish and shrimp tacos here are bound to be among the best you've tasted, but Haggo's also boasts creative vegan and meat options, all centered on local ingredients.
The Cousteau fish taco, stuffed with wild catch and served with fresh cabbage slaw, mango and more. (You can even nosh on it below a big portrait of Jacques himself.)
The Taco Stand
The perennially long lines at The Taco Stand's locations in downtown, North Park, La Jolla and Encinitas tell you all you need to know about taco lovers' passion for this place. But if you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat. Even the generous salsa bar is worth a celebration. (Do try the habanero.)
The spicy camaron, the grilled pescado or the oozing-with-flavor nopal (cactus) taco.
This go-to spot in downtown's East Village, just a few blocks north of Petco Park, has its share of tried-and-true taco varieties, from carnitas to Baja-style fish. But the place's veggie specialties are something else.
Check out the squash-blossom relleno taco with housemade beet soyrizo, almond "cream cheese," poblano salsa and potato chicharrones; or the cauliflower taco with eggplant “bacon” and avocado mousse.
Tacos el Panson
This no-frills place, where adobada (seasoned pork) carousels in the window, is about savory and smoky meats cooked to perfection. That approach makes El Panson's authentic street tacos a City Heights highlight.
Grilled carne asada cradled in made-to-order warm tortillas or the adobada carved off the spit. Lengua (beef tongue), cabeza (roasted cow head) and suadero (a side cut of beef) are served with cilantro and onions so you can experience the flavors of the meat.
This eight-location taqueria, with a flagship restaurant in North Park, is a haven for innovative culinary creations, offering unconventional ingredients like portobello mushrooms and smoked tuna. Taco purists can enjoy traditional favorites, such as carnitas, pollo asado and the ever-popular surf and turf taco.
The mahi a la Veracruzana taco, featuring a grilled mahi filet topped with sauteed tomatoes, olives, garlic, capers, chives and more in a white wine herb sauce.
Set down the street from the colorful murals of Chicano Park in a century-old historic building, ¡Salud! is a true gem in Barrio Logan. Aromatic smoke from meats and pollo cooking on the outdoor grills welcomes diners. Inside, murals and surf/skate/low-rider eye candy fill the space —think racks of skateboards, shiny bikes and colorful car parts, along with edgy flicks like "Serpico" on the flat screen and Johnny Cash as a soundtrack.
Specialties include tender carnitas with avocado crema on a handmade tortilla, or the pollo asado—marinated chicken cooked over mesquite. The Taco de Barrio features stewed beef with nopal cactus and beans.
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