I like to consider myself a bit of a taqueria connoisseur, and one of the highlights of my recent trip to San Diego was the taqueria tour my husband and I embarked on during our visit. San Diego is a hub for excellent Mexican food. And when you’re a native Californian like me who now lives in Texas—where Tex-Mex is king—you crave a good no-frills Cali-style burrito every now and then. You know the kind; big as your head, wrapped in foil, filled to the brim with simple goodness like carne asada or pollo asado, and stuffed with fresh pico de gallo and slices of ripe avocado. I should note that my mouth is salivating as I write this.

For those of you looking to explore some of the best (and most wallet-friendly) Mexican grub in San Diego, here are three places we loved on our last trip. Enjoy!

1. Los 2 Pedros – This tiny taqueria in nearby La Jolla serves up one of the best carne asada burritos I’ve ever tasted. The meat is tender and well-seasoned, and they grill their fresh made flour tortillas to perfection before stuffing them with all the goodness. Come hungry, and be prepared to not want to eat for the rest of the day after eating one of their burritos. They also sell pickled carrots (a personal favorite), and have excellent rolled tacos. Order a cold jamaica (a traditional Mexican drink made from hibiscus flowers) to help you wash down your meal.

2. Lucha Libre Taco Shop – I was excited, and a bit skeptical, to visit this over-the-top taco shop. This is the place where Adam Richman from Man vs. Food took on their “Surfin California” burrito—a monster-sized burrito filled with carne asada, shrimp, French fries, avocado, pico de gallo, cheese, & Lucha’s secret chipotle sauce. What I discovered was a popular spot that’s worthy of the hype. My husband and I shared the “Surf & Turf” burrito, which was amazing, and a side order of their TJ corn—a tribute to Tijuana-style corn served just over the border and topped with queso enchilado, mayo, chile and lime. It was a little too buttery for me, but tasty none-the-less. The three brothers who own and operate Lucha Libre, José Luis, Maurilio, and Diego Rojano-Garcia, have created a one-of-a-kind place, and I’ll for sure be back on my next visit. Come early, or expect to wait in a long, but fairly fast moving, line.

3. Las Quatro Milpas – I learned of this hidden gem from a good friend who’s a San Diego-native and has been coming to this place since he was a kid. Located in Barrio Logan, and close to Chicano Park, I knew driving up to this place it was going to be good. From the minute you walk in the smells of fresh tortillas and chorizo hit you—and the simple, yet delicious, menu doesn’t disappoint. I ordered two chicken tacos and they were perfect, and topped with crumbled queso fresco. We even bought a dozen of their flour tortillas (still piping hot when they handed them to us) to take home to Austin. I’m sure some TSA inspector got a laugh when he saw those in our luggage.

Overall, the San Diego taqueria tour of 2011 was a success—although my jeans were a little tighter when I got home. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places. Feel free to comment below and tell me what taqueria is tops in your eyes.

Map of San Diego, California

San Diego