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Iconic Taqueria Tacos El Franc Coming to the US

A Tijuana institution since 1996, the "best tacos in the world" are finally arriving stateside in National City
Iconic Tijuana taqueria Tacos El Franc's first US location will be in National City.
Photo Credit: Beth Demmon

Listen—my initial reaction was just like yours. “A new taco shop in San Diego? Groundbreaking.” But then I saw the name. It’s not just any taco shop—Tacos El Franc is coming to National City.

In a land of iconic taquerias, Tacos El Franc is legendary. The taco shop became a Tijuana institution even before opening its first brick-and-mortar in 1996, when Javier Valadez began slinging tacos from a small cart and quickly earned a cult following.

It’s been featured on Netflix’s Taco Chronicles, and the tacos have been dubbed the best in the world by TikTok and people with extremely good taste (me). Tijuana locals and hungry Americans crowd the curbside eatery from the minute it opens until closing, and if you’ve ever had the chance to taste one of the mouthwateringly tender cabeza tacos or overstuffed quesadillas con carne, you’ll understand why. 

Now you won’t need a passport to crush their carne asada. Tacos El Franc will open their first location in the US at the Westfield Plaza Bonita mall this summer, replacing Funky Fries & Burgers at 3030 Plaza Bonita Road, Suite No. 1108. Convincing the taqueria’s owners to enter the US market took 20 years, admits managing partner Roberto “Robe” Kelly.

“[Tacos El Franc] is, essentially, the highest grossing taqueria in Baja,” Kelly explains. “They didn’t really need the US market.” But the time has finally come, and he says once they open their doors, that will only be the beginning of an “aggressive expansion,” going wherever people have “an appetite for tacos.” 

“One of our primary goals is to bring the exact flavor that you can have when you cross the border,” he adds. “We’re going to make it easier and bring it to them.”

When Tacos El Franc opens in June or July of 2024, I invite brave readers to join me in a taco-eating contest. No matter what, we all win.

Beth’s Bites

More National City news! Friends of Friends is almost open on 8th Street, with promises of coffee, booze, music, and of course, friendship. 

If one more coffee shop launches in North Park, I’m going to lose my mind. Other neighborhoods need caffeine, too! Please?

Rise Biscuits is opening (eventually) near SDSU, but where are the best biscuits in San Diego in the meantime? Email me at [email protected] with your recs.

Pure Project’s eighth anniversary party is tomorrow at their Miramar Brewery & Taproom. I’ll be there, so if you see me, say hi!

By Beth Demmon

Beth Demmon is an award-winning writer and podcaster whose work regularly appears in national outlets and San Diego Magazine. Her first book, The Beer Lover's Guide to Cider, is now available. Find out more on

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