If you’re looking for a neighborhood packed with incredible restaurants but don’t want to spend your time fighting the crowds in downtown San Diego neighborhoods, Kearny Mesa has you covered. This neighborhood is kind of a hidden gem, featuring all kinds of eateries, from Asian fusion joints that make their own noodles to plenty of options for American fare and beyond.
Picking a kind of food to enjoy with a friend, date or group can be difficult. What one person loves may leave someone else frowning. Thankfully, almost everyone loves tacos. There are plenty of places around San Diego that make up fresh, flavorful tacos. From creative, fusion tacos to street tacos, you can find just about any kind of protein and veggie in a tortilla somewhere in this city.
Kearny Mesa has many places, from chain fast food restaurants to local hole in the wall eateries, that serve crowd-pleasing tacos. There are as many kinds of tacos as there are chefs in the city. Authentic tacos often come on soft corn tortillas, but you can find places serving tacos in flour tortillas or crispy, hard shells as well. When it comes to fillings, the options are almost limitless.
Some perennial favorites include pork carnitas, seasoned ground beef, pollo and carne asada, and, of course, fish and seafood. Beyond that, you have lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, pico de gallo, beans, cheese, hot sauce, guacamole, avocados, spicy peppers, bell peppers and more. Regardless of what’s in your perfect taco, you can find something to enjoy at each of these four restaurants.
Location: 3750 John J Montgomery Drive
Hours: Monday-Friday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
If you want a margarita to go with your tacos, stop into Casa Machado. This brightly lit, sun-bathed restaurant serves up all kinds of incredible tacos, as well as a full menu of Mexican dishes, complemented by a full bar. They are all-ages friendly.
They serve breakfast on the weekdays and brunch on the weekends, with popular classics such as huevos rancheros, huevos con chorizo and chilaquiles. Their lunch and dinner menu includes ceviche, queso fundido, several kinds of quesadillas, flautas and taquitos. There’s fresh salad, ranging from a chicken Caesar to an avocado and tomato salad. They even serve several vegetarian options, including veggie and potato burritos, as well as an enchilada stuffed with mashed potatoes.
When it comes to tacos, they have plenty of great choices. They serve tacos stuffed with beef, chicken, carne asada, fish, polla asada, carnitas and even potatoes. You can order them up a la carte or as part of a dinner plate, served with rice and beans.
There’s also weekday Happy Hour specials at Casa Machado, including quesadillas on the house each Monday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and discounted tacos on Tuesday. You can also enjoy XX drafts and regular margaritas for under $5 each.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill
Location: 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite 111 (map)
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 1:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
If you are trying to eat healthier foods but can’t stop your cravings for tacos, Rubio’s Coastal Grill is the perfect solution! This popular taco chain, with several locations around San Diego, offers a perfect combination of healthful ingredients and authentic flavor.
Since 1983, Rubio’s has been serving their Original Beer-Battered Fish Taco to salivating customers. They use sustainably harvested, wild-caught Alaskan pollock, which they dip into their special house beer batter. The fried fish gets topped with a white sauce, mild salsa and fresh cabbage, all on a corn tortilla. The Especial also features homemade guacamole, a special blend of cheeses and a mix of cilantro and onions. On taco Tuesdays, you can enjoy one of these standout fish tacos for just $1.75, while the Especial is only $2.
The seafood tacos don’t end with breaded fish, however. You can enjoy a Wild Argentinian Red Shrimp taco with smoked paprika and tomato butter, topped with avocado slices, fresh salsa, cabbage and a white sauce. There’s also a taco with shrimp and salsa verde, one with grilled or blackened Alaskan Coho salmon with fire-roasted corn, as well as tacos with grouper, ono and mahi mahi. They also make up burritos, bowls and salads with their fresh fish and toppings.
Fusion Izakaya 52
Location: 4367 Convoy Street (map)
Hours: Monday- Saturday: 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., Sunday: 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
If you want to try a truly creative, Asian-fusion take on tacos, you can’t go wrong by visiting Fusion Izakaya 52. They have a broad range of items on their menu, from shrimp tempura and gyoza dumplings to cold octopus, fried squid legs and cheese sticks.
They only have three kinds of tacos on their menu, but chances are great that you’ll find yourself craving more of them once you try them! You can enjoy a fresh fish taco, a spicy pork taco or even a taco topped with bulgogi. Bulgogi is a thinly sliced, marinated meat, in this case, beef. It makes for a perfect protein for an Asian-fusion taco.
Their menu boasts quite a few kinds of salad, including the sashimi salad you know and love from sushi restaurants and Sunomono salad made with cucumbers, special dressing and sesame seeds. You can order several kinds of ramen, including Tonkotsu, as well as fish cake soup and pork kimchi stew.
If you’d prefer to sample several small plates, they offer creative tapas, like seared albacore with fried onion and eel sauce or salmon Carpaccio with asparagus and wasabi mustard sauce. For dessert, you can try their colorful and sweet macaron ice cream sandwich.
Lolita’s Mexican Food
Location: 7305 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite A (map)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
While they originally opened in Chula Vista in 1984, Lolita’s Mexican Food has expanded to six locations around San Diego, including this Kearny Mesa location. Striving for authentic Mexican flavors combined with truly fresh ingredients, Lolita’s seems to have perfected the recipe for taco success.
There are nine different kinds of tacos available to aficionados at Lolita’s. Vegetarians will enjoy their potato tacos, stuffed with mashed potatoes, lettuce, and cheddar and cotija cheese inside a hard taco shell. Those who prefer a little more protein will find many of the classics available here, including shredded beef, chicken breast, carne asada and pollo asada, which remain perennial favorites. They also serve shrimp tacos with Lolita’s Salsa Blanca, as well as adobada grilled pork tacos and seasoned carnitas pork tacos.
Their menu also includes both standard burritos and chimichangas, which are fried burritos, stuffed with beef, chicken and carne asada. Traditional burritos come in many additional manners, including one filled with homemade refried pinto beans, a chile relleno burrito, one with fish, another with veggies including guacamole and even a Monster burrito with carne asada, refried beans, rice, cheese, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream.
They also offer lunch specials, a kid’s menu, tortas and specialty combination plates for people who can’t choose just one option from the menu.