Mexican Restaurants Serve Up Casual Eats in San Diego

Katie Dillon

By , Local Expert, San Diego
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If you can't get to Mexico, finding a Mexican restaurant in San Diego is the next best thing. We're a border town, after all, so it's not surprising that Mexican food is done well here—primarily in family—run taco shops. Mexico is a country with hundreds of regional cuisines so keep in mind that in San Diego you are most likely to find tacos, burritos and "3 rolled with guac", which what the locals call a standard taquito order.

Old Town San Diego is famous for Mexican food and for being the birthplace of California. While some might argue the food isn't authentic enough, eating here is a must-do when visiting the historic...  Read more »

  • 1

    Las Cuatro Milpas

    A no-frills, family-owned business for three generations, this Mexican food is as authentic as it gets in San Diego. The menu is short and sweet.

    Local Expert Tip: "Be prepared to wait in line for up to an hour if you go at lunch. The tamales are outstanding."

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    You can see and taste how fresh the ingredients are and customize your meal exactly how you like it as you move down an easy assembly line.

    Local Expert Tip: "Don't skip the cheese in your taco as it's grilled on to the tortilla. It's upscale, fast-casual Mexican street food."

  • 3

    Oscar's Mexican Seafood

    There is so much meat in the delicious tacos that they are almost hard to pick up.

    Local Expert Tip: "It is popular, but worth the wait for an awesome shrimp or fish taco. Try the smoked fish taco."

  • 4

    Old Town Mexican Cafe and Cantina

    With an Old Town San Diego location, OTMC offers incredible homemade tortillas and carnitas in a festive atmosphere.

    Local Expert Tip: "Try to avoid peak times as it can get busy, resulting in slower service and waits for tables. It is slightly Americanized, but one of the best picks for Old Town."

  • 5

    Lolita's Restaurant - Downtown

    Lolita's is the place you go downtown for a quick, inexpensive taco or carne asada burrito.

    Local Expert Tip: "If you're not on a diet, get the carne asada fries. Keep in mind that this location can be hard to get to if there's a Padres game happening."

  • 6

    Cafe Coyote

    Cafe Coyote is a local favorite for Old Town dining for fresh food, outdoor seating and good margaritas.

    Local Expert Tip: "The handmade tortillas with a side of guacamole are to die for. Also, they have a good selection of tequilla."

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    The tropical decor and festive, family-friendly vibe make this the best place for Mexican food in Coronado....  Read more »

    Local Expert Tip: "The white sauce is worth the extra calories. You can also grab tamales for pick-up to steam at home."

  • 8

    JV's Mexican Food

    Located near USD in Linda Vista, JV's is famous for huge portions, a fresh salsa bar and a larger seating area than most taco shops.

    Local Expert Tip: "The huge surf and turf burrito is known as the "Belly Buster" and is worth ordering at least once, just to see it."

  • 9

    Rudy's Taco Shop

    Rudy's Taco Shop is a solid North County favorite for authentic Mexican, especially the carne asada and tortas.

    Local Expert Tip: "Rudy's also has excellent catering, if you're throwing a party. The street tacos are my favorite."

  • 10

    Las Olas

    It's beach location compliments the seafood-based, Baja-style cuisine perfectly.

    Local Expert Tip: "A margarita paired with a fish taco or two is a perfect order here. Las Olas is popular with locals so go early to avoid the crowds."



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