Taco shops are about as prevalent in San Diego as Starbucks, but until Puesto, no one had given the familiar street food the “Starbucks treatment”. The new taqueria in La Jolla has all of the standard meats and fish, plus you can trick out your taco with everything from nopales asados (grilled cactus) to huitlacoche (corn smut).
I tried three different tacos for an Everyday Eats post on San Diego Magazine and found that my favorite combination was the chicken taco with crispy cheese, pineapple, tomatillo salsa, and cilantro. I also tried a cactus and zucchini flower taco, and a carne asada and huitlacoche taco with jalapeno and pistachio salsa. A few things make Puesto’s tacos stand-out: the fresh corn tortillas (made on-site), the salsa (also made daily), and the upgrade from a sprinkle of cheese on top of each taco to a griddled crispy cheese “crepe”. You can get the whole story on my San Diego Magazine review.
I also tried a carne asada salad, with romaine and arugula, juicy carne asada, tomatoes, panela cheese, and cucumbers that was drizzled with a mix of Puesto vinaigrette (cilantro chile), aged balsamic, and lime juice. For $8.80, it’s a generous portion — more than enough to be a meal in itself.
One area where Puesto really excels is in the beverage department. There’s Boylan’s fountain soda, Calypso lemonade, coconut water, and frozen margaritas. Instead of tequila, they’re made with agave wine, which has half the alcohol, and none of the burn. It’s all the sweetness, with none of the pain. They’re serving a mango version now, but are working on a tamarind flavor as well.
For dessert, there’s frozen horchata or street cups: sliced fruit and veggies like jicama, carrots, and mango, tossed with lime juice, chili oil, and sea salt.
With the recent opening Smashburger and now Puesto, La Jolla is getting a needed influx of quality, more affordable eats. Everything I tried was under $10, including the three tacos ($8.95) and the salad ($8.80).
I’m filing this place under “crave it”. And from the packed house of repeat customers, I can see I’m not the only one.