road trip to Baja California-our favorite taco spots
Van window is rolled down, warm air is blowing in my face and making my hair all crazy, Spotify playlist is blasting “Here's a little song I wrote. You might want to sing it note for note”, and there are tacos on my mind. That pretty much sums up our trip to Baja :).
What can be better than escaping winter and heading to a warm exotic place in our van, exploring and enjoying remote beaches, slowing down, and MOST IMPORTANTLY looking for the best tacos we can find along the way?
You are right! NADA!
In all honesty, finding the best (in our opinion) tacos during our road trip along the coast from Bellingham, WA to Baja California Sur was a secondary mission. Otherwise we would have consumed 4 times more tacos than we actually did. Nonetheless, having this “taco theme” for our road trip added a fun and tasty twist to our adventures and explorations. We actually really got into the “taco search”, and it kinda became like an addictive game to us. I am pretty sure we missed many other amazing taco spots along the way because there are so many of them, and everyone has their own favorite taco spot too. In this blog I would like to share with you OUR FAVORITE taco spots.
You can tell by looking at our pictures that they were more of an afterthought as we are always impatient to stuff our faces with tacos instead of doing food photography. They might not look as esthetically appealing on some of the pictures but you would just have to take my word and trust our taste buds :). Also, if there are girls/people that can look sexy while eating tacos in pictures that is most definitely NOT me. When we travel we often do take-outs instead of eating at the restaurant simply because it’s easier to manage with a very busy toddler, so we often eat tacos inside our van. Maybe we should have named our van Taco after all.
I think we’ll do a “taco mission” every time we go to Baja California from now on, so if you have your favorite taco spots recommendations put them in the comments below.
East Beach Tacos-santa barbara
Some people are all about the traditional taco but I actually enjoy fusion of different cuisines and do it in my own kitchen too. East Beach Tacos in Santa Barbara, California is all about that fusion and experimentation with flavors, and I honestly loved it. They have some unusual tacos such as banh mi, ahi poke and “gangnam style” which is Korean short rib taco. I LOVE banh mi so why not make it into a taco too. Right? Not everything works in a taco of course. I personally didn’t like the poke taco but next time I would want to try the “gangnam style” taco which should be pretty good. My favorite tacos from those I’ve tried were the spicy crispy shrimp taco and the banh mi taco. I have to mention that their tacos are not cheap and priced between $4-5 per taco but the best deal is the “triple play” which is three tacos of your choice with a side of chips and spicy orange sauce for $9. Are you all about the authentic taco or do you also enjoy fusion cuisine and tacos with a twist?
Mariscos Jalisco- Los Angeles
This was hands down the most memorable taco of the entire trip, and I am salivating as I am writing this. I am NOT a big fan of visiting big cities like Los Angeles but we had to go and try some of the taco spots there. I am glad we didn’t skip LA otherwise we would totally miss out on this flavorful experience. Mariscos Jalisco is a food truck and they do only one kind of taco but they do it WELL. If only I could have this taco truck relocate somewhere closer to me. The sound of a crunch as you take the first bite of this taco dorado is something deeply ingrained in my memory. Then you taste the juicy shrimp inside which combined with a tingly spicy salsa on top makes a flavorful explosion in your mouth, and before you know it the taco is gone. We ate a fare share of tacos during this trip but there wasn’t another taco that was as finger-licking and lip-smacking good. Alright, I think you get the idea, and if I will keep writing about it I will write a poem. If you are in LA or somewhere near, run and try one of this delicious tacos and then have an extra one for me ;). I hope they keep up the good work because I would detour to LA again for this taco alone.
This little joint with friendly staff is famous for their tacos made with fresh thick tortillas toped with a variety of delicious braises. These tacos were also different from any other tacos we’ve tried during our trip so I thought they deserved to be included on this list. It is hard to choose from their menu when you come in first as everything on the menu sounds delicious. My favorite thing about this place though is that you don’t have to pick only a few tacos to try but instead order their sampler plate which comes with six mini tacos of your choice. I wish every taco place had this option as I often want to try a variety of different tacos before I figure out my favorites. There was even Mole Poblano taco which was delicious. Other taco choices were Steak Picado, Tinga de Pollo, Cochinita Pibil and some vegetarian and seafood options too. All tacos were reasonably priced at $2.95 per taco with the exception of seafood tacos which were 3.25 per taco. When I first read about this place it sounded a little weird to have tacos with braises but it turned out to be really good, and something that I would particularly crave as comfort food because somehow it tasted like something my mom would cook at home.
Blue Water seafood Market & grill-san diego
When we were asking for recommendations for the best fish tacos along the California coast a lot of people recommended different spots in San Diego. We knew that San Diego was not a city to miss for the “best fish taco” search. Our taco tour of San Diego did not disappoint and it will be a MUST stop for fish tacos from now on. Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill is actually my most favorite place for fish tacos. Even if service wasn’t all that great, I would still come back and have these tacos again. That says it all because I have very little tolerance for unfriendly service at the restaurant or food joint. The quality and freshness of fish and shrimp in these tacos is what makes the biggest difference in my opinion, and the flavors of the main ingredients were definitely shining through. Taco toppings added a very flavorful compliment to the fish and shrimp without overpowering their flavors. These tacos were definitely on a more pricey end but still worth the pay because of the quality and flavors. I didn’t expect much and I wasn’t too hungry as we’ve tried another joint right before this one but I was impressed, and I am curious to go back and see if I would feel the same way next time. I also recommend going there in the middle of the week and at off hours to avoid a long line.
About two hours after crossing San Isidro Mexican border we arrived in Ensenada. We were planning to spend the night just south of Ensenada but we had to check out this place because it had 2000+ Google reviews, and also a number of people recommended it to us. La Guerrerense started as a street food stand but now they also have a restaurant Sabina named after the owner. Both the food stand and the restaurant are located within a couple minute walk from each other. Unfortunately when we arrived to Ensenada in early afternoon the food stand was already sold out and they were out of pretty much everything at the restaurant because it was holiday time with lots of people around. Nonetheless, we were still able to get some shrimp tacos to try which were really good. I especially enjoyed the variety of salsas that are created by the owner and are even available for purchase. This place got very famous by their tostadas topped with seafood, and they even got an endorsment of Antony Bourdain. We came back again to this restaurant on our way back to the United States and it didn’t disappoint again. I definitely recommend coming to this place earlier in a day to make sure they don’t sell out some of their most popular items on the menu.
el rey del taco-loreto
Loreto was my favorite town in Baja California. It has a great location for different adventures and it also has exceptional dining. I would definitely spend more time in Loreto next time we come to Baja. When I was looking for tacos to try in Loreto El Rey Del Taco came up several times as THE place for tacos. We stopped there couple of times but it was closed. Finally just before leaving Loreto in late morning we drove by and it was open so we decided to grab some tacos for brunch. I actually think that tacos are a great brunch food. Don’t you agree? There were only couple of locals at the joint enjoying their tacos, and the taco guy spinning and turning in his kitchen, doing multiple tasks at the same time and creating his taco magic. It is a very authentic joint and I honestly liked everything about it. These were simple tacos without any twist or fancy ingredients but they were REALLY good. Not sure what made them good but I am starting to salivate as I am writing about them, and you just have to give them a try. I read some reviews that were saying that this place could be a hit or miss depending on the time of the day and maybe how busy they are. Our visit was a hit though, and I am definitely coming back to this “King of Taco” for more even if I would need to wait around until they open.
brisa Del Mar-agua Verde
Agua Verde is located south of Loreto and it’s an adventure just getting there because it’s out there. There is a little village by the beach where we camped for several days. Our van actually got stuck in the sand right as we arrived to the beach, and I had to go to this little beach restaurant and ask for help. The lady that runs the restaurant was super nice and it took a village to get our van out. We went back for lunch to Brisa Del Mar the next day and she made us delicious tamales. Might be even the best tamales I ever had in my life. The day after we asked her to make some fish tacos for us. They were simple and very tasty but it was the entire experience of being in this remote place that made the food taste even better in my opinion. The meals were not cheap compared to other taco places we’ve been to in Baja but we didn't mind paying extra and supporting her business.
Tacos el faro Verde and Tacos el poblano-santa Rosalia
If you read my previous blog about our road trip in Baja, you might know that our van broke down on the drive back right as we were driving through Santa Rosalia. We ended up spending the entire week in Santa Rosalia while waiting for a part for our van to arrive. In the meantime we would do our daily walk to the playground at the main square, and we would stop first to buy some horchata and ,second, we would have shrimp tacos for lunch at Tacos El Faro Verde. We literally went there almost every day so girls that ran the place already smiled when they saw us approaching. They had a very good variety of toppings to put on their tacos and I especially loved their roasted peppers.
The other place we found was Tacos el Poblano. It’s a late night food and it also ended up being our favorite meat taco spot from the entire trip. There is a lady that makes fresh tortillas right there and this little tacos are just addicting. I liked that they had caramelized onions as one of the toppings for tacos which was a great addition to the overall flavor. There is also a great bakery right next to this taco spot worth stopping by. Check if they have their freshly made churros because they are phenomenal when just done.
Santa Rosalia is not a touristy town and there is not much to do and see so we were not planning to stop there originally. But now we would definitely go back there for tacos and because we kinda feel nostalgic about this town. If you are passing through Santa Rosalia and would like some authentic great tacos, you know where to go.
Writing this blog made me really hungry so now I need to go find me some tacos :).