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Tacos With Flare and Flavor in Mission Valley

The Mission Valley neighborhood in San Diego is a diverse and colorful neighborhood, with plenty of fun eateries and a range of businesses. From fresh local sea food to health food, like locally-brewed kombucha, you can find just about anything you’re craving in Mission Valley. Tacos are certainly no exception.

These simple street food treats come in all shapes and sizes, from rolled, crispy tacos to soft tacos served with nothing but local veggies. Whether you’re craving a traditional taco with simple toppings or something that’s more modern and exciting, you want it to be well made and flavorful. Fish tacos, chicken tacos, even vegetarian and vegan tacos can be found on menus all over town. Mission Valley has a number of great places that serve tacos.

Like many dishes, tacos are deceptively simple. They can seem perfect with only a few ingredients, but those ingredients must be ideally prepared and flavorful. Including incredible ingredients, such as grass-fed beef, heirloom tomatoes or a secret recipe hot sauce can turn your average taco into something you can’t stop thinking about the next day at work.

You don’t need to go out hunting for little hole in the wall eateries. We’ve already tracked down some of the best tacos in the county. The next time you’re in the mood for an incredible plate of tacos, head into any of these four Mission Valley restaurants with your appetite and your taste for adventure. You’ll definitely be glad that you did!

Guacamole for 20 People… or Just You…

El Portal Fresh Mexican Grill No 2
Location: 5618 Mission Center Road
Hours:  Monday-Saturday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: $

If you’re looking for flavorful Tex-Mex tacos in Mission Valley, El Portal Fresh Mexican Grill No 2 is the only stop you need to make. They open early and serve up breakfast, including a chorizo or machaca burrito. Speaking of burritos, this place has a wide assortment of fillings. You can enjoy bean and cheese, potato, fajita veggies, eggplant, carne asada, pollo asada, chile relleno, fish or the works.

As far as tacos go, they have all the standard options available. You can enjoy soft tacos stuffed with carne asada, polla asada, battered and fried fish, charbroiled fish, salmon or even shrimp. If you want a crunchy hard taco, your filling options include ground beef or rolled tacos with beef, chicken or potatoes. You can also add side dishes when you order tacos a la carte, including pinto or black beans, Spanish rice, corn cakes or even French fries.

Other options on their menu include tostadas, tortas, salads, enchiladas and special combination plates. You can order up one of their fiesta platters, which has enough of their flavorful food for a party. Whether you need enough guacamole for 20 people or a pack of 30 rolled tacos, El Portal has you covered. Need lunch for one or rolled tacos for your whole crew? El Portal Fresh Mexican Grill No 2 is a great place to stop.

The International Culinary Students Practice Their Chops

The Palette
Location: 7650 Mission Valley Road
Hours: Wednesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Price: $$

Located inside the Art Institute of California-San Diego, The Palette offers New American cuisine and fresh made desserts for even the most discerning foodie. It is run by students from the International Culinary School. Don’t worry, it won’t be unseasoned first year students either. Only fourth year students who have completed six academic quarters in the program can work in The Palette.

The only drawback to eating at The Palette is that the menu changes all the time. There are dishes on the menu that would get classified as American comfort food, and other times they are serving up fusion or haute cuisine dishes. In order to get in, you need to make reservations. That way, you can ensure you’re there when they’re serving tacos.

In the past, they’ve served everything from rustic tacos to pork cheek tacos. Many times, fusion tacos make it on the menu, even when the focus is another region or cuisine. Even if you don’t make it in when they’re doing tacos, you’re likely to find the prices reasonable and the quality of the food exceptional. The flavors here are worth making a reservation for!


Healthy Choices Hearty Eats

Elva’s Bowls & Wraps
Location: 5664 Mission Center Road, Suite 402
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: $

Generally, you won’t think healthy or light when you think about Tex-Mex dishes. However, if you’re craving tacos and still want to eat something good for you, consider making a trip to Elva’s Bowls and Wraps. She’s happy to make something a little simpler if you have kids in your group. They can enjoy a cheese quesadilla or a chicken teriyaki wrap.

Run by Elva Rodriguez, who prides herself on serving up locally grown and nutritious foods with amazing flavors, Elva’s Bowls & Wraps is a great place to enjoy sustainable and organic produce in a delicious dish. The big draws on the menu here include salads, healthy soups and power bowls, as well as wraps. You can even build your own bowl, filled with rice, noodles or organic quinoa, along with protein of your choice, veggies and a sauce.

The mighty wraps are somewhere between a sandwich and a taco. You can have your choice of a whole wheat, flour or tomato tortilla, stuffed with flavorful toppings such as Caesar salad, pesto sauce with arugula and spinach, Thai peanut sauce, tzatziki sauce and feta, or even buffalo sauce. At Elva’s you won’t have to sacrifice nutrition for flavor.

? @sandiegoeats

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Fancy Toppings to Spice Up the Basics

Roberto’s Taco Shop
Location: 7710 Hazard Ctr Drive, Suite A
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sunday: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Price:  $

Nestled into an unassuming little strip mall, Roberto’s Taco Shop has all the flavor you could want from a Mexican eatery. Options on the menu include a host of burritos, from California burritos to deep fried chimichangas, as well as enchiladas, breakfast options (which they serve all day), tostadas, tortas and quesadillas.

The offerings are simple and straightforward, but Roberto’s Taco Shop doesn’t need to invent new, fancy toppings to sell their tacos and burritos. They do the basics well, and that’s enough to get people coming back for more. Whether it’s French fries inside the burrito or the perfect carne asada, Roberto’s has what you’re craving when you’re craving Tex-Mex.

When it comes to tacos, Roberto’s Taco Shop definitely delivers. They don’t bother with the Americanized flour tortillas you find some places, so come understanding that you can only order corn tortillas. That being said, they offer big, flavorful tacos for very reasonable prices.

You can enjoy tacos filled with beef, chicken, fish, carne asada, pollo asada, carnitas or adobada. They also serve up rolled tacos, filled with beef or potatoes. You can enjoy tacos as part of their combination plates, served with rice, beans and chips. Options include two beef tacos or three rolled tacos with guacamole and cheese.


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