Considering its adjacency to the Mexican border, San Diego is one of the best cities for authentic Mexican cuisine. I stopped by last winter for the ultimate taco crawl to try some of the best burritos and tacos in SoCal. Here’s how three restaurants stack up:
1810 W. Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92103
This wrestling-themed restaurant features some eclectic decor with pink walls, gold booths and tons of knick-knacks. It has a good divey atmosphere with both indoor and some outdoor seating on the patio.
Their ado-haba Cali burrito ($8.50) was the best burrito I’ve ever had, filled with pulled pork, pineapple, fries, cheese and sour cream. It had everything you could’ve asked for with a delicious blend of sweet and salty. The tacos (pricey at about $4.50 each) had the best tortillas of the three shops, though they do stack them up and serve too many with each street-style taco. The flavors were potent and the ingredients mixed well together, so you get a good bite every time. Great experience and great food—including the sweet side of TJ corn, served with mayo, Queso Enchilado, Chili powder & lime for $2.50.
4642 Park Blvd,
San Diego, CA 92116
El Zarape was the most intimate and least known for the three restaurants. It has a pottery and tile-styled interior decor theme going for it. But the cheap prices are what make it memorable. Order off of a huge chalk board chock full of options, but you really can’t beat the $0.99 fish tacos. I also recommend the sweet flan for $2.75.
The battered and fried fish tacos are unbelievably cheap, but they are quite wet. The sauces on the tacos makes for a soggy albeit very well seasoned meal. I preferred the shrimp taco (pictured), which was $3.25.
El Zarape is a great out-of-the-way location with affordable tacos, but it didn’t quite live up to the quality standard set by Lucha Libre. On the plus side, it’s located in a cute neighborhood, good for a stroll down the sidewalks or near residential gardens on your way back to the car.
7305 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.,
San Diego, CA 92111
This family-owned business is tucked inside a strip mall and looks like the inside of a Denny’s or iHop. Though it may not be as nicely decorated or themed as the other two, it did have decent prices, delicious food and open seating. Lolita’s also has some great weekly specials that you should check out.
The star of Lolita’s for me was their hearty burritos, with great meat and strong flavors. They, too, look unassuming (pictured). The California burrito is $7.25 but others like the pollo asado or fish are only $5.65, which is a total steal. Though Lolita’s may feel like any other strip mall restaurant on the inside, the food is stand out. I personally opted for the Tsunami burrito, which is normally $9.95 and includes carne asada, grilled shrimp, guacamole and cheese—I really wanted the surf and turf wit guac. What else could you ask for?
Next time you’re stopping by La Jolla Cove, whether for some seals or surfing, check out one of these three spots for authentic Mexican cuisine in San Diego. My winner was Lucha Libre, but each fit a decidedly different audience.