10 Mexican Restaurants That Serve up Casual Eats in San Diego

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 is 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 area. Try Cafe Coyote for the handmade tortillas pounded and grilled daily on the patio.

Puesto brings a colorful, casual dining experience that's unlike any other in county. Specializing in Mexican street food made with locally-sourced ingredients and sustainable seafood, this restaurant has been busy since its opening. There are two locations now: one in La Jolla and the other downtown at The Headquarters.

Lolita's Restaurants are casual taco shops located across the county with favorite orders including tacos and carne asada chips. Because it's probably the location visitors to San Diego will frequent most, we mention the East Village restaurant in downtown San Diego.

Pair whatever entree you choose with a fish bowl-sized margarita, if you wish.

Cafe Coyote
Photo courtesy of Henri Louis Hirschfeld


From tortillas to tamales to salsa, Coyote Cafe makes everything from scratch every day, on the premises. Start the day with a Breakfast Margarita, chilaquiles, menudo, or a chile relleno omelette. For lunch, try the chile verde, a quesadilla,...  Read More



Tacos el Gordo is run by a family who has been in the restaurant business for over 40 years. The tacos has been lauded as the best in the United States by a national publication and locals tend to agree. They're Tijuana street style tacos which...  Read More



Puesto, located in downtown La Jolla, is an upscale fast-casual eatery that serves authentic Mexican food made from whole, wonderful ingredients. All meals are made to order and are uniquely curated based on the diner's tastes and desire. The...  Read More



Lolita's opened their first location over 20 years ago in Chula Vista. Since then, this family-owned and operated business has expanded to 5 locations including this one in East Village near PETCO park and the Convention Center. Locals love the...  Read More



Ponce's Mexican Restaurant in the Kensington neighborhood is owned and operated by the Meza family for over 40 years. It's loved for fantastic Mexican food but also for overall community spirit as the restaurant supports local organizations and...  Read More



The Taco Stand is one of the best places to grab a casual taco in La Jolla. It's a family-run business inspired by taco stands in Tijuana. Tortillas are handmade, meats are top-of-the-line and ingredients fresh as possible. Do not forget to...  Read More



Go to Luche Libre Taco Shop for authentic Mexican food including awesome tacos and burritos served in a colorful space that represents the traditional wrestling its named for. If you've ever craved a proper Tijuana dog (or "TJ" dog), this is a...  Read More



If you're looking for Mexican food in the Gaslamp, La Puerta is your place. La Puerta is famous for street tacos that can only be made better by pairing them with a freshly-squeezed margarita (no mixes here). Over 100, 100% blue agave tequilas...  Read More



Oscar's Mexican Seafood is a very popular seafood-based Mexican food eatery in San Diego. A hole-in-the-wall near a smoke shop and a dive bar, this gem is casual with a to-go atmosphere and very little seating. The tacos, which can be upgraded...  Read More



Barrio Logan isn't really one of San Diego's tourist hot spots but some locals argue that Las Cuatro Milpas is the one place to take out-of-town guests for Mexican food. There is almost always a line that can take up to an hour at lunch. The...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie