San Diego recently extended its Trolley system so that its Blue Line now runs all the way from the U.S.-Mexico border to La Jolla in the north. This $2.2 billion expansion also opens up opportunities for all sorts of new adventures, including sight-seeing, shopping and, of course, taco tasting—a favorite local pastime.
San Diego’s proximity to Mexico, plus abundance of fresh ingredients, have made the region a must-visit destination for foodies and taco lovers everywhere. With an adult day pass costing as little as $6, the Trolley also provides a low-cost way to see the sights and taste the bites that make San Diego such a unique destination where every day can be a Taco Trolley day.
- A perfect place to start is at the new UTC Trolley station, which not only offers easy access to some of the region’s best shopping at the Westfield UTC but is also home to Tocaya Modern Mexican, a light, bright casual eatery known for its healthy fare that offers up plenty of vegan options. The piña pastor is a standout with its inventive mix of adobo tofu, vegan chipotle jack cheese, grilled pineapple salsa, red peppers, onions and arbol salsa.
- Eight stops down is the Clairmont Drive Trolley station where a short walk leads to Mike’s Red Tacos food truck. This new addition to Bay Park neighborhood, serves up its acclaimed birria tacos featuring locally sourced, fresh tortillas dipped in chili oil and crisped up for their signature red color. Mike’s Red Tacos is only open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until it sells out.
- A few stops further south is the Old Town Trolley station, so named for the nearby Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which features preserved buildings and museums that commemorate the period from 1820 to 1870 and also has more than 30 neighboring restaurants that offer a wide range of cuisines, including traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes. The new Old Town Urban Market, an outdoor dining and entertainment complex six blocks from the station, is home to the Michelin-recognized Tuetano Taqueria, which specializes in slow-cooked, Tijuana-style beef birria tacos. For the adventurous epicurean, the much-heralded bone marrow taco is a must-try.
- The very next trolley station is the Washington Street stop, where just up the hill sits Lucha Libre Taco Shop. The restaurant’s décor is inspired by the bright colors and distinctive masks of Mexican wrestling and the menu features dishes like the “undefeated seafood taco” and the “birria quesa taco” with beef birria, melted cheese, onions, cilantro and salsa muerta. Guests should call ahead to reserve the “Champ’s Booth,” a table nestled into an outlandish gold vinyl booth complete with its own special menu.
- A couple stops south on the Blue Line is the County Center/Little Italy station where visitors can easily walk to King and Queen Cantina, a hip, art-filled eatery in the heart of San Diego’s lively Little Italy district. The eclectic menu features all kinds of specialty tacos, including a Hot Cheetos asada taco, which comes with melted cheese, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, chipotle aioli, lime crema, green cabbage, and topped with serrano sauce, red radish and cilantro.
- One stop down is historic Santa Fe Depot where riders can catch a transfer to the Green Line for a quick trip to the Seaport Village station. A short walk from there is the picturesque Old Police Headquarters, which houses Puesto at the Headquarters. The restaurant chain, which started in San Diego, provides an innovative and contemporary approach to authentic Mexican cuisine, sourcing its ingredients locally and regionally for its Mexico City-inspired tacos. The filet mignon taco is a standout, prepared with a handmade blue-corn tortilla, Puesto’s signature crispy melted cheese, avocado and spicy pistachio serrano salsa.
- Two stops away on the Green Line, Trolley riders will find themselves in the heart of the action at the Gaslamp Quarter station, a historic downtown neighborhood known for its eclectic and electric night life. A few blocks over and steps away from Petco Park is The Blind Burro, which specializes in Baja coastal cuisine with hand-crafted food in a relaxed atmosphere. Taco offerings include coffee-rubbed salmon, cilantro-lime grilled shrimp, and vegetarian crispy spiced cauliflower.
- One stop away from the Gaslamp is the 12th & Imperial station that reconnects with the Blue Line. A short ride on the Blue Line will transport taco lovers to the Barrio Logan neighborhood. Past the Chicano Park, which features more than 80 murals detailing the struggles and beauty of the Mexican-American community, is ¡SALUD TACOS! on Logan Ave. Featured on the Travel Channel, the former taco truck is known for its authentic tacos and tattoo-inspired wall art and pinstriped car hoods. The restaurant’s menu pays homage to the street food of Northern Mexico with its own Chicano flare. The carne asada taco or “the classic street taco” is a rite of passage here, with marinated steak on a handmade corn tortilla, topped with guacamole, onions and cilantro.
Of course, this is just the tip of the taco tastings available in San Diego. For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including exciting vacation packages, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org