642 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
We were in the mood for tacos, and Alberto’s or actually any ’Berto’s wasn’t going to cut it.
I had heard about The Taco Stand in Encinitas and was told it was authentic and beat all the drive-thru Mexican joints when it came to tacos. I was also warned about the long lines.
Lucky for us it was raining, so no line. I’m usually a burrito gal, but after perusing the menu board I realized this meal would be all about the tacos.
I have no idea what I was thinking when I ordered so many, but I couldn’t decide between the al pastor, which is rotisserie marinated pork with cilantro, onions, cilantro sauce, and a pineapple sauce or the grilled pescado — mahi mahi, cabbage, cilantro, onions, tomatoes, avocado, and chipotle sauce. My husband Ralph and I also pondered the carne asada tacos with flame grilled Angus steak, advertised as “100% certified Angus Beef” with cilantro, onions, guacamole, and salsa or the Nopal taco with grilled cactus, cheese, and avocado.
So we ordered them all, and more.
Fresh guacamole was brought to our table in a little container, and I worried I wouldn’t have enough after I dug in with my warm chips. I eventually realized I had no need for concern since every taco I ordered came with fresh avocado inside.
The Al Pastor taco was cooked with the marinade perfectly caramelized and some of the meat was charred to a crisp, while the rest of the meat was tender and moist, creating a perfect balance of Mexican cuisine folded into the handmade corn tortilla. The carne asada taco was filled with chunks of grilled steak with the avocado and the house salsa verde on the tortilla. The pork and the steak both had distinctly differently flavors, which you don’t always find.
As I watched the chef grill and flip meat while it rained outside, I stuffed taco after taco into my mouth and looked around. The interior, with all the red and white, reminded me of most taco shops in Tijuana, which made sense when the manager informed me the founder of the Taco Stand is from TJ.
As the front door opened and closed a dozen times with people braving the rain for these delicioso tacos, I had finally decided that the al pastor was my favorite. Or was it the carne asada?