The Taco Stand Encinitas
There are no shortages of taco spots in San Diego and at Oh-So Yummy, we've TKO'ed (taco style) on quite a few. During last year's Tacotopia, one of our favorite traditional tacos was the al pastor from The Taco Stand. It was only a matter of time before we found ourselves at the restaurant. The Taco Stand has three locations in San Diego: the original a few blocks from the La Jolla beaches, the second in downtown San Diego, and the newest in the heart of Encinitas, which was our choice for a media visit. Time to drive up the coast to North County!
Apparently our chosen weekend overlapped with the Encinitas Street Fair so parking was busier with a few roads closed off. After navigating through some crowds and street booths, we found the restaurant with a line out the door. Luckily, the line was shorter than it appeared, due to the cashier being only a few steps inside the door. The staff uniforms reminded us of old school diners like Ruby's or perhaps In N Out, maybe because of the white hats! The assistant manager Alex greeted us with a smile and mentioned he had some items planned for our meal. We just had to choose a spot to sit in the meantime.
Cozy outside seating was available for enjoying our fantastic San Diego weather. The bright sunshine mixed with shadows from the wooden slats were a little too harsh for photo lighting so we took to the shady tables inside the restaurant.
Mar Y Tierra Fries - grilled shrimp with flame grilled angus steak (100% certified angus beef), fries, guacamole, sour cream & cheese
We had been eyeing the surf and turf fries on the menu and were delighted that it was the first item served! Crispy seasoned fries interspersed with tender flavorful 100% Angus beef and nicely seared shrimp made for a great base layer. In addition, the portions of guac and cheese toppings were quite generous. All this was just under ten bucks, enough to feed two people without breaking the bank!
Sonora Taco - flour tortilla, angus steak (100% certified angus beef), melted cheese, beans, guacamole, onions, cilantro & salsa
The Carne Asada and the Sonora tacos were very similar, with the latter adding melted cheese and beans. We were amazed that this carne asada meat was so tender, especially since this meat tends to be chewy at other places. The wrapping style helped give access to the yummy taco fillings but the paper itself ripped apart if soaked in juices too long. I accidentally ate parts of the paper here and there because I was ravenous and not too careful at first!
Pollo Asado Taco - flame grilled chicken, cilantro, onions, guacamole & salsa
We also enjoyed the grilled cubes of moist dark chicken in the pollo asada taco. The rest of the ingredients mirrored the carne asada tacos.
Al Pastor Taco - rotisserie marinated pork, cilantro, onions, cilantro sauce + pineapple
One of my favorite taco meats is the savory al pastor. The sweet grilled pineapple always melds well with the seasoned meat and I can hardly wait for the next bite! I especially loved seeing them slice that meat directly from the glistening roasting spit before incorporating into my tacos.
Nopal Taco - flamed grilled cactus, melted cheese, cilantro sauce, tomato & avocado
This version of cactus was less slimey than other versions we've had but still unconvincing for us meat lovers. The grilled cheese portion (similar to a queso taco) gave me a little more reason to munch onward.
Camaron (Spicy Shrimp) Taco - grilled shrimp, cheese, avocado, cabbage, tomato & chipotle sauce
Baja Taco - battered fish, cabbage, cilantro, tomato, onions & chipotle sauce
We moved on the some seafood tacos next. The hidden shrimp was the same as was on the surf and turf fries but didn't seem to mesh as well in taco form. On the other hand, the hearty flakey piece of fish was portioned well on the softer corn tortilla. The sauce on top had a hint of spice and the spread of cabbage was just the right amount. There's also the option of a grilled fish taco instead of the battered one.
For those of you who love adding a little more kick or flavor to your tacos, there's a small salsa bar in the back of the restaurant. Dennis grabbed a few flavors to sample but I prefer to eat my tacos exactly as they come.
Mexican Street Corn
We also had one small side with our meal. Tajin usually turns me off but not when it is paired with a salt-friendly food like corn. These kernals were fresh and popping plus I just love gnawing on cobs row by row (my special way of eating them). Dennis mentioned there was a pungent smell from the cojita cheese but I didn't really notice.
I'm not kidding when I say we felt like we had attended ANOTHER Tacotopia at the end of this meal... we were so stuffed! Despite that, we couldn't resist trying the handmade paletas (Mexican fresh-fruit ices), which we heard was made at the downtown location. This creamy pop tasted like a delicious cold Oreo on a stick and made its way into our dessert stomach. This addition was well worth the splurge for us on that hot day! Thanks to Alex for giving us a well rounded sampling of the menu but for sure, we will cut back on our next visit! I'm craving that surf and turf fries and we'd probably only add one or two tacos to finish up our order. Burritos will be next on our list to try!
Disclaimer: We were invited to dine here and our food and drink was complimentary. We were not otherwise compensated and all opinions stated are our own.
The Taco Stand (Encinitas)
642 S Coast Hwy 101
Encinitas CA 92024