San Diego’s recently expanded Trolley system has extended the Blue Line from the U.S.-Mexico border to La Jolla in the north… and opened up all sorts of new adventures in the process, including sight-seeing, shopping and, of course, taco tasting!
The city’s proximity to Mexico and abundance of fresh ingredients have made it a must-visit for foodies and taco lovers. And with an adult day pass costing as little as US$6, the Trolley also provides a low-cost way to savour San Diego’s culinary sights.
Where to begin?
The San Diego Tourism team offers their take on a tasty Trolley taco tour!
The new UTC Trolley station offers easy access to some of the region’s best shopping at the Westfield UTC and is also home to Tocaya Modern Mexican, “a light, bright casual eatery known for its healthy fare (and) plenty of vegan options.”
Tasty taco tip #1: Don’t miss the piña pastor, a standout with its inventive mix of adobo tofu, vegan chipotle jack cheese, grilled pineapple salsa, red peppers, onions and arbol salsa.
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, ride along for eight stops, hopping off at the Clairmont Drive Trolley station, and enjoy a short walk to Mike’s Red Tacos food truck. Their acclaimed birria tacos feature locally sourced, fresh tortillas dipped in chili oil and crisped up for their signature red colour – savour these treats Saturdays only from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until they sells out.
Back on the Trolley, travel south a few more stops to 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. You’ll also find more than 30 neighbouring restaurants serving 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, specializing in slow-cooked, Tijuana-style beef birria tacos. For the adventurous epicurean, the much-heralded bone marrow taco is a must-try.
Next is the Washington Street stop, where just up the hill sits Lucha Libre Taco Shop. With décor inspired by the distinctive colours and masks of Mexican wrestling, the menu features dishes like the “undefeated seafood taco” and the “birria quesa taco” with beef birria, melted cheese, onions, cilantro and salsa muerta.
Tasty taco tip #2: Call ahead to reserve the “Champ’s Booth,” a table nestled into an outlandish gold vinyl booth complete with its own special menu.
Back on the Blue Line, a few stops south brings you to the County Center/Little Italy station, where an easy walk takes you to King and Queen Cantina, a hip, art-filled eatery in the heart of San Diego’s lively Little Italy district, with an eclectic menu features all kinds of specialty tacos.
Tasty taco tip #2: The Hot Cheetos asada taco features melted cheese, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, chipotle aioli, lime crema, green cabbage, and topped with serrano sauce, red radish and cilantro.
Next stop: the historic Santa Fe Depot where riders can transfer to the Green Line for a quick trip to the Seaport Village station, a short walk from the picturesque Old Police Headquarters, which houses Puesto at the Headquarters. Taking an innovative and contemporary approach to authentic Mexican cuisine, expect ingredients sourced locally and regionally for Mexico City-inspired tacos.
Tasty taco tip #3: Try the filet mignon taco, prepared with a handmade blue-corn tortilla, Puesto’s signature crispy melted cheese, avocado and spicy pistachio serrano salsa.
Another two stops along the Green Line, Trolley riders will find themselves in the Gaslamp Quarter station, a historic downtown neighbourhood known for its eclectic and electric night life. At the Blind Burro, specializing in hand-crafted, Baja coastal cuisine, taco offerings include coffee-rubbed salmon, cilantro-lime grilled shrimp, and vegetarian crispy spiced cauliflower.
A stop away, the 12th & Imperial station reconnects riders with the Blue Line, where a short ride takes taco lovers to the Barrio Logan neighbourhood. Past the Chicano Park, where more than 80 murals detail the struggles and beauty of the Mexican-American community, tuck into ¡SALUD TACOS! on Logan Avenue, a former taco truck known for its authentic tacos, tattoo-inspired wall art and pinstriped car hoods. The menu pays homage to the street food of Northern Mexico with its own Chicano flare.
Tasty taco tip #4: 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.
So many tacos, but this is just the tip of San Diego’s taco tastings. Learn more and plan your own taco tour at sandiego.org.
Plan your adventures throughout the West Coast at westcoasttraveller.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @thewestcoasttraveller. And for the top West Coast Travel stories of the week delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our weekly Armchair Traveller newsletter!