Tacos El Rey
Calle Segunda (2nd) and Avenida 5 de Mayo, Centro, Tijuana
Like many taco stands in Tijuana, Tacos El Rey has no menu anywhere. Except this is not a taco stand but a tiny smoky room that has stood on Calle Segunda since 1972. They cook carne asada, chorizo, tripe, and chicken on a charcoal grill. But what makes you fall in love with the tacos are the handmade tortillas that the tortillera slathers with butter right before putting it on the comal. Quesadillas are big favorites here — cheese melts around the tortilla giving it a crunchy burnt cheesy edge. Tacos go for 17 pesos, just over $1.25, while quesadillas with meat go for double the price.
Calle Ocampo between 11th and Boulevard Aguascalientes, Centro, Tijuana (Original moving truck)
Las Palmas corner with Avenida Las Ferias, Las Palmas
Cuahutemoc Sur corner with Sánchez Taboada, Zona Rio
Kokopelli started with a charcoal grill on top of wooden vegetable crates on a street in downtown Tijuana a bit over three years ago. Their most popular dish back then was the Kraken, a grilled octopus with pesto sauce (and more) taco. Since then, they evolved to a moving truck (that stayed near the original location), two other locations in Tijuana, and a third one in Chicago. But despite all their success (appearing on the cover of the Reader had to help them achieve international fame) they still push the envelope with new experimental tacos, mixing flavors that never appeared in a folded tortilla before.
Tacos Puebla (Las Amigas)
Calle Madero between 5th and 6th, Centro, Tijuana
Handmade tortillas almost as thick as a pancakes fluff up on a comal, under a blue tarp that holds a lot of smoke from a grill with asada, chorizo, and tripe. A street taco stand located very close to Tijuana’s main party scene, “La Sexta.” Tacos Puebla, also known as Las Amigas, is run by two nice ladies who serve drunk partygoers late at night. One amiga makes the tortillas as the other prepares the tacos swiftly. Tacos and quesadillas go for a bit over a dollar as random street musicians approach, sing off-key, and ask you for your cambio (change).
Mariscos German (Beyer)
3269 Beyer Boulevard, South Bay, 619-654-0266
There are several Mariscos German spread throughout San Diego, but there’s a difference to be made between Mariscos German, Mariscos German Beyer, and Mariscos Nine Seas. Jorge Fuentes claims the original is his food truck, located in the parking lot of a liquor store on Beyer Boulevard for nine years. The truck has a large menu that includes soups, clamatos, aguachiles, ceviches, and seafood cocktails (including the must-try Tostada Loca). They start you up with a complimentary cup of fish broth before they deliver a fish taco deep-fried crispy with a soft, warm inside for only $1.25. Voted best taco in SoCal by the Huffpost for a reason.
2933 Beyer Boulevard, Chula Vista
Luzita’s Taco Shop
Luzita’s has been in south San Diego since the late ’90s; back then it was named “Ay Caramba.” It changed its name to Luzita’s in 2008 when the owner sold the shop to her brother, who changed the name in honor of his mother and daughter named Luz. The large menu hasn’t changed much despite the name change: California burritos and carne asada fries are their biggest sellers. Good place for when you are in a hurry and have a large appetite. Very filling.
Mariscos El Paisa
3173 Iris Avenue, San Ysidro
A food truck run by the Cebreros family from Sinaloa has been on the parking lot of Liva Market, near the Iris trolley station, since 1996. Opened from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the shop serves tacos, soups, aguachiles, and seafood cocktails. For $6 you can get two tacos called Las Super Ranas (the Super Frogs). No frog meat inside, though, but a mushy mix of shrimp, octopus, and marlin. Their specialty is “El Popeye”: for $6, you get aguachile with fish and shrimp ceviche, octopus, surimi, and vegetables good for 6–8 tostadas.
Tacos Varios, El Güero
Calle Sexta corner with Calle Madero, Centro, Tijuana
Javier Torres, also known as El Güero, runs one of the many taco stands spread out through Tijuana labeled “Tacos Varios” that has a blackboard as a menu. His style of tacos is known in the rest of Mexico as tacos de guisado (stew tacos). Most of them sell for 14 to 18 pesos (a bit over a dollar), one taco is big enough to make a meal. Two tortillas with rice, beans, and a filling that varies on a daily basis. The standard is chile relleno and milanesa, plus plenty other choices like lengua en salsa verde, bistec ranchero, chicharron en salsa, and pollo con mole.