As San Diego is surrounded by boundless sources of fresh seafood, countless farms and Baja California’s culinary influence, finding the best tacos in San Diego means sorting through a huge variety of gustatory excellence. These handheld champions of food have earned a large fan base in American culture. They even have a day of the week dedicated to their consumption – hence the alliterative “Taco Tuesday.”
In San Diego, tacos tend to be a divisive subject among foodies. Are we talking Tijuana street-style, fish tacos, hard shell, burria or another type of taco? Locals regularly argue over which taqueria to visit on Tuesday nights. Or any other night, really. It’s difficult to rank these restaurants and food carts against one another when San Diego tacos don’t have a definitive taste or look. So what makes a taco superior according to our list? Fresh ingredients, homemade tortillas, a creative spin, fun flavors, awesome ambience and beautiful presentation. Take a look at our favorite spots for the best tacos in San Diego.
¡SALUD! – Barrio Logan
As a general rule, the closer you get to San Ysidro and the border, the better the tacos. It’s certainly true of ¡SALUD!, Barrio Logan’s preferred taqueria among the neighborhood’s locals and all of San Diego. Come here for a wide variety of choices. The menu includes al pastor, veggie, fried hard-shell, fish, breakfast and more. They combine Chicano and Baja California street food influences to create the menu and the bold interior filled with tattoo-like murals and car hood décor. Don’t forget to try the craft beer. Tacos washed down with craft beer is a classic San Diego evening meal. Skip Taco Tuesday and come here with friends on Wednesdays in the summer to catch La Vuelta Car Cruise, a community lowrider cruise that parades right by ¡SALUD!
Las Cuatro Milpas – Barrio Logan
Also located in San Diego’s historic Barrio Logan, Las Cuatro Milpas serves rolled tacos stuffed with pork along with other local favorites, including fried hard-shell tacos brimming with a variety of fresh meat. This taco shop has a more traditional, fresh-out-of-your-grandmother’s-kitchen vibe. Las Cuatro Milpas has served tacos in homemade tortillas since 1933, and business hasn’t slowed over the last near century. Though located only a few blocks away from the more modern ¡SALUD!, this Barrio Logan staple has a loyal following and you must be prepared for a line out the door.
The Taco Stand – La Jolla
If you’re prepared for a bit of a trek away from central San Diego, the original location of The Taco Stand is the move. Despite the name, the food isn’t limited to its titular menu item. They also serve other Mexican cuisine staples like burritos and quesadillas. The salsa here happens to be incomparable. Hunting for the best fish taco in all of Southern California? The Taco Stand’s Baja taco might win your heart (or your taste buds). Most of the menu doesn’t diverge from traditional tacos, and vegetarians will have plenty of options.
Galaxy Taco – La Jolla
Who can deny the draw of La Jolla restaurants? Local gems hide between overpriced and overrated tourist traps, and there’s nothing quite like discovering a gem in an upscale neighborhood. Galaxy Taco is the prime location for a taste of modern tacos. Its best feature? Definitely the housemade blue corn tacos with heirloom sourced from Oaxaca. Though they specialize in tacos, they also have a variety of bowls, salads and more. The boldly flavored tacos combined with imaginative cocktails makes this taqueria the perfect spot for a date night. Take your significant other out for a night on the town and snack on tacos while you watch the sun set over La Jolla Cove.
City Tacos – North Park
Of course the most hipster neighborhood in San Diego offers up some of the best tacos in SoCal. Also taking a modern interpretation of tacos, City Tacos has many vegetarian options and serves some killer salsas. Head over to North Park on Taco Tuesday for special discounts, including Mexican beer for only US$2.50. They have five locations, though of course your first bite should always be at the original location.
Lola 55 – East Village
Downtown San Diego’s taco shop Lola 55 came in hot in 2018, bringing us spicy fish tacos and other classic Mexican taco options. Their incredible chef Andrew Bent smokes carnitas and procures high quality, fresh ingredients – yet the food is almost criminally inexpensive, especially for the location. Come here for a stellar, low-budget meal. Lola 55 will become your new Tuesday go-to.
Tuetano Taqueria – San Ysidro
We’ve come full circle, back to the assertion that the closer you are to the border, the better the tacos. Tuetano, another 2018 location, sits on a small street in San Ysidro and sent bone marrow tacos flying into popular San Diego foodie blogs. They also serve quesadillas and tortas. Hot take: tortas are sometimes better than tacos.
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