When your next door neighbor is Mexico, your Mexican food better be good! San Diego Tacos don’t disappoint.
I wasn’t a Mexican food kinda gal until I went to UCSD (University of California, San Diego) and was exposed to the deliciousness of San Diego Mexican food. Whenever I went back to my hometown of Costa Mesa in Orange County (an hour drive north of San Diego). I’d miss eating a California burrito or adobada taco with a tall order of horchata.
On a random Saturday, my boyfriend, friend, and sister decided to go on a five-part tour to try the best San Diego tacos. Another friend had attempted to do this same tour (modified a tad because some restaurants were not open on a Saturday?! I know, right? Why?!) but wasn’t able to visit all of them since they were too full (WEEEAK!).
Pro Tip: If you are attempting to do this taco tour. Refrain from eating more than 2 tacos, or else you won’t make it. (Unless you have a bottomless stomach, then go right ahead and order more.)
So how was this list created?
I’ve been to every place but one on this list prior to going on this foodie venture. All of these places have 1500+ reviews on Yelp with a 4-star rating when this article was written.
This list is ordered from location, south to north, and is the path we took. I think it’s also the best order to eat them.
Read more to find out where we went to eat the best San Diego tacos.
Tacos El Gordo
We ordered: 4 Adobada, 1 Lengua
Price Range per Taco: $2.25 – $2.40
A San Diegan favorite. My best friend will actually drive down from Orange County (an almost 2-hour drive) just to eat these tacos. They serve street tacos at about $2.00 – $2.75 a taco. Tacos El Gordo has adobada, carne asada, suadero, cabeza, buche, lengua, tripa, azteca and chorizo tacos. If you want something a little extra you can order a mula, tostado, sope or quesadilla.
The adobada is tender and juicy, perfectly paired with creamy cilantro sauce, add a squeeze of lime and a slice of pineapple for even more flavor.
For all my fellow “I suck with spicy food” peeps, some days their house green sauce is very hot. I’ve had a couple times where I couldn’t eat my heavenly adobada taco. I tried to drink horchata to alleviate the burning sensation only to be faced with little success. However, I would still recommend getting an adobada taco no matter what. Pain is only temporary, but the memory of the deliciousness is forever.
Pro Tip #1: If you get adobada, ask for pineapple. They’ll give you slices on the side.
Pro Tip #2: If there isn’t parking at the location, park at the public parking at the train station, a block away off of Woodlawn Ave.
Pro Tip #3: If you decide to order multiple tacos and have a group of people, divide and conquer. Each person can stand in a different line and order.
Life Advice: Don’t be a jerk and save a table when you aren’t even close to paying. This is the biggest con about this place. Some people save a table even though their friend is the twentieth person in line for tacos. By the time I finish eating my taco at your table, I’ll be gone.
Las Cuatros Milpas
Specialty: Pork Tacos
We ordered: 4 Pork Tacos, 3 Rolled Tacos
Price Range per Taco: $1 – $3
A prime definition of a hole in the wall restaurant, Las Cuatros Milpas transports you to a Mexican abuelita’s house. There is always a line outside, but don’t worry, the line is outside only because you order and pay at the door. The best part of this place is the price. A rolled taco is a buck, so bring your Washingtons! They make their tortillas in-house. You can actually see them make the tortillas fresh. Some of the restaurant seating is practically in the kitchen.
The deep-fried taco shells at Las Cuatros Milpas give a crunch to the shredded pork tacos. Lettuce, tomato and a dollop of sour cream save the otherwise dry taco. Their tacos are heavy, though small.
Pro Tip #1: This place closes at 3 pm!
Pro Tip #2: If you have time, visit the Chicano Park close by. It has beautiful murals celebrating Latin culture.
Pro Tip #3: They only accept cash, so your plastic is useless here.
Specialty: Non-traditional Tacos
We ordered: 1 Mahi Al Adobo, 1 Atun Fresco, 2 Chile Relleno
Price Range per Taco: $3.50 – $4
A perfect third stop on a taco tour, City Tacos in North Park gave us a much-needed break from the rich, oily tacos. City Tacos fuses Mexican traditions and Southern California flavors. The tacos as City Tacos are less greasy and more creative in comparison to Tacos El Gordo and Las Cuatro Milpas. They use light, fresh ingredients.
Pro Tip #1: If you have time, explore the hipster neighborhood, North Park.
Oscar’s Seafood Tacos
Specialty: Fish Tacos
We ordered: 1 Fish Taco, 2 Surf and Turf, 1 mixed order of ceviche
Price Range per Taco: $2.00 – $4.75
The best seafood tacos in town! There are 5 Oscar’s locations throughout San Diego all serving high quality tacos. Oscar’s serve not only tacos but tortas, sides and delicious ceviche. I highly recommend their ceviche (get the mix to get both fish and shrimp!) if you like your ceviche very lime-y. I love the way my mouth puckers up eating Oscar’s ceviche.
Pro Tip #1: Monday – Thursday from 2pm-5pm Oscar’s has Happy Hour on their fish tacos for $0.99
Pro Tip #2: House sauce are spiciest from dark to light. (Red being the least, orange and green being the spiciest)
Pro tip #3: If you end up also ordering ceviche, drizzle the juice onto your taco. You won’t regret it!
The Taco Stand
Specialty: Carne Asada
We ordered: 2 Adobada, 1 Carne Asda, 1 Pollo and 2 orders of churros (3 pieces per order)
Price Range per Taco: $2.00 – $2.75
A family-owned taqueria, The Taco Stand draws inspiration from taco stands in Tijuana and Baja California.
Prior to this visit, I’ve only visited The Taco Stand to order their burritos but now I’ll be ordering tacos as well.
Their carne asada tacos are made of 100% Angus beef = a quality meat taco. The meat is soft and juicy, not dry at all.
The pollo tacos was also juicy and paired well with a creamy avocado sauce.
Pro Tip #1: Get an order of churros. Their churros are soft, chewy and warm goodness. You won’t regret it. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Plus, it’s the perfect way to end a taco tour.
Where’re the Best Tacos in San Diego?
San Diego does their tacos and, generally speaking, their Mexican food right! Their Mexican food joints provide quality ingredients and both traditional and creative spins to their dishes.
This is the perfect tour if you want to try some of the best tacos in San Diego and have about 4 hours to spare.
Our general opinion in terms of ranking are as followed:
- Tacos El Gordo
- The Taco Stand
- Oscar’s Seafood Tacos
- City Tacos
- Las Cuatros Milpas
If you decide to taco this tour or would pick a different taco joint, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.