The only thing San Diegans might love more than the beach is some tasty Mexican food. This Southern California town is home to a plethora of restaurants serving delectable dishes from South of the Border, but a handful make your taste buds stand up and shout, “Ole!” Here are five of the best Mexican restaurants in San Diego County.
San Diego’s Old Town is flush with Mexican restaurants but as a local, my favorite is Café Coyote. Others are more popular with tourists and can have notoriously long lines to get in, but at Café Coyote the typical wait time is short and the food is delicioso. Watch women dressed in traditional Puebla dresses handcrafting some of the best-tasting flour tortillas you may ever eat. As an added bonus, the restaurant offers its own underground garage in an area of town where parking spots are hard to find. Afterwards, wander through the area’s old-timey souvenir and candy shops while keeping your ears open for some live Mexican flute music.
Roberto’s Mexican Food
For no-frills authentic Mexican fare, head to Roberto’s Mexican Food. The first Roberto’s opened in 1964. Today there are eight locations throughout San Diego, all run by family members of the original owner, Roberto Robledo. The most requested menu items are rolled tacos with guacamole and Roberto's original carne asada burrito, but I recommend the deliciously messy chile relleno and enchilada plate. It comes doused with ranchero sauce and cheese and is served with rice, beans, and chips.
Mosey on over to Jose’s Courtroom in La Jolla Cove, a restaurant and bar fit for a hungry cowboy. The restaurant has the feel of an old-fashioned saloon with a large wooden bar in its center. The flavorful beef, chicken or shrimp fajitas made with fresh onions, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes were voted the best fajitas in La Jolla for their flavorful citrus marinade. Grab a stool by the windows and watch La Jolla’s shopping elite saunter by while you munch chips and salsa and sip a cold limey beer.
If you want consistently good food at affordable prices, go to Rubio's. With locations throughout the county, you are never far from your next fabulous fish taco. Kids love the cheese quesadillas or chicken taquitos. Parents love that they can get a meal that pleases the whole family without breaking the bank. Colorful tropical fish swim about in tanks at many locations, adding to the kid appeal.
If you are looking for the very best margarita in town, go to Miguel’s Cocina and order an orange-infused Miguel’s Ultimate Margarita. It’s made with Centenario “Azul” Reposado, Patron Citronge orange liqueur, Grand Marnier, and fresh-squeezed citrus juices. Miguel’s has a more upscale-feel than the other restaurants in this list, with tropical décor, bamboo accents, and palm trees reminiscent of a Mexican vacation. There are seven Miguel’s locations in San Diego, including Miguelita’s, a fast food version of the restaurant at the famed Hotel del Coronado.
Photo: Corey Taratuta