Exploring San Diego


LIST: San Diego's best Mexican restaurants

Posted at 12:21 PM, May 04, 2018

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego is known worldwide as a great food destination, with thousands of restaurants in the region offering their unique take on a variety of cuisines.

But San Diego has a stellar reputation when it comes to Mexican food, and if you’re craving Mexican fare, we’ve put together a listing of the top restaurants in the city and county -- based on Zagat’s food quality review ratings.

Las Cuatro Milpas
1857 Logan Ave., San Diego (Barrio Logan)
http://www.las-cuatro-milpas.com (menu only)

Zagat says: “Street food like your Mexican grandma would have made” is the thing at this unassuming, cash-only spot in Barrio Logan “famous for carnitas”, handmade tortillas and “lines out the door”; “the prices are so good you can eat there often”, hence its status as a “local favorite”; P.S. closes at 3 PM and all day on Sunday.

El Indio Mexican Restaurant
3695 India St., San Diego (Mission Hills)

Zagat says: Open since 1940, this local “landmark” in Mission Hills is “always dependable” for “pretty darn good Mexican food” like tacos on “fresh tortillas”, “awesome tamales” and some of the “best chips in town” all at “amazing prices”; the counter-service space is “nothing fancy”, so eating outdoors on the patio “is the way to go.”

El Agave Tequileria
2304 San Diego Ave., San Diego (Old Town)

Zagat says: Some of “the best mole in San Diego” turns up at this “high-end” Old Town Mexican featuring “excellent” regional dishes that “move beyond the average burrito” complemented by an “amazing” list of over 2,000 tequilas; “gracious” service and an upscale-rustic setting help to seal the deal.

City Tacos
3028 University Ave., San Diego (North Park)

Zagat says: “This isn't your ordinary taco shop” proclaim fans of this inexpensive taqueria with locations in North Park and La Mesa that takes “street food to a whole new level” with inventive spins on classic Mexican staples like pulled lamb tacos with wild mushrooms; a “friendly” staff, comfortable semi-industrial setting and top-notch salsa bar add to the appeal.

El Zarape Restaurant
4642 Park Blvd., San Diego (University Heights)

Zagat says: “Locals love” these “quaint, little” Mexican eateries offering an “extensive” array of “super-fresh” burritos and tacos that are a “cut above”; the “capacious” Normal Heights location with a full bar pouring margaritas and sangria is a “nice step up” from its “closet-sized” University Heights sibling, but “you can’t go wrong with the prices” at either locale.

Isabel’s Cantina
966 Felspar St., San Diego (Pacific Beach)

Zagat says: The “bold, robust” Asian and Pan-Latin fare comes “highly recommended” at this all-day Pacific Beach eatery, where fruity cocktails add to the “good vibe”; it's especially popular for breakfast and brunch, but “get there early” or prepare to wait.

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
646 University Ave., San Diego (Hillcrest)

Zagat says: “Fantastic”, “fresh” Mexican eats are the forte of this affordable, local chain famed for its ceviche, tortas and tacos you can douse with “great sauces”; the setup is simple – just “order at the counter and hope there is a stool to sit on” – and prepare for lines at peak hours.

Café Coyote
2461 San Diego Ave., San Diego (Old Town)

Zagat says: “Some of the best margaritas north of the border” and “freshly made-to-order” tortillas put this “hopping” Mexican a “smidgen above” the other options in Old Town; it’s a bit “touristy”, but fans say “caring” servers, fair prices and the “charming” atmosphere with “fun”, “cheesy” decor keep them coming back.

Barrio Star
2706 5th Ave., San Diego (Bankers Hill)

Zagat says: “Modern Mexican cuisine”, including “creative” tacos, and “amazing” blackberry-jalapeño margaritas are the draw at this “hip, fun” cantina in Bankers Hill from Isabel Cruz; “sweet service”, reasonable prices and colorful Dia de los Muertos–themed decor complete the picture.

Outside of the city:

Puesto Mexican Artistan Kitchen & Bar
1026 Wall St., La Jolla

Zagat says: “True Mexico City tacos” are made with “sophisticated” twists and “the highest quality ingredients” (including “fresh” handmade tortillas) and served with “awesome margaritas” at this “energetic” well-priced duo in La Jolla and The Headquarters at Seaport Village; “casual-chic” settings with huge, colorful murals and outdoor seating draw families and hipsters alike.

TJ Oyster Bar
4410 Bonita Rd., Bonita

Zagat says: “Amazing fish tacos” are the star at this “great little hole-in-the-wall” in Bonita (with an expanded twin just down the road) specializing in both “traditional and unconventional” Mexican seafood washed down with cold beer; affordable prices and affable service make the potential for “long waits” during peak hours worth the hassle.

Jalisco Cantina
213 North Coast Hwy., Oceanside

Zagat says: Cozy Oceanside locale for agave-based specialty cocktails and elevated Mexican fare (such as street corn salad, torta sliders and grilled yellowtail) served in rustic-chic surroundings with exposed wood beams and an intimate bar.

Casa De Pico
5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa

Zagat says: “Festive in decor and spirit”, this longtime Grossmont Center Mexican is a “classic” for “fruity frozen margaritas” and “traditional” fare served in a “fun” space complete with “strolling mariachi”; some dismiss it as “gringo” fare, but others appreciate the “affordable” tabs with “fantastic” happy-hour deals and patio seating that's “good for a large group.”