Tacos are to San Diego what oxygen is to humans. Essential. Every year there are a handful of great taco shops that all deserve top nod. This year, I named Lola 55 the best taco shop—for quality of ingredients, chef Andrew Bent’s talent, price point, everything. It moved the needle. Here were the other contenders:
Las Cuatro Milpas
A past winner. The cash-only, matriarch-driven taco shop in Barrio Logan fries the shells in front of you. A legend.
Aqui Es Texcoco
Past winner. A massive pot in the kitchen is smoking all day with traditional lamb barbacoa. If you like lamb—it’s my all-time favorite indulgence—this is your place.
The griddled cheese is their not-secret weapon, as are the craft tequila cocktails. But under chef Katy Smith, quality has hockey-sticked up every year.
It’s hip, but you can’t survive on ambience alone. From that al pastor with avo crema to the birria taco, the taste matches the look.
This is an offshoot of George’s, which has one of the country’s top chefs in Trey Foshee. Almost unfair. Galaxy chef Christine Rivera is sourcing non-GMO blue corn masa, pressing in-house, and applying four-star techniques. Get the grilled yellowtail.
The Taco Stand
Their carne asada fries are everything (thus why I named them Best Fries), but their Sonora steak taco justifies the always-long lines at their La Jolla location.
Tacos el Paisa
Another Barrio mainstay. Those adobada (chile-marinated pork) and machaca tacos on their covered patio make for a day well spent.
TJ Oyster Bar
The Bonita icon. Every day, you’ll see the chefs working with dozens of octopi in the back for their famed pulpo taco.
Best Taco (Readers’ Pick): Puesto