Puesto: Mexican Street Food in Downtown La Jolla
Can anyone honestly tell me they know of someone who doesn’t love tacos? (Un)fortunately for me, I happen to think most tacos taste about the same, but this is a good thing. I usually know what I’m getting when I order, and I know I’m going to love it. When Puesto gave Savor SD the opportunity to stop by, meet owner Eric Adler, and have some tacos, I leapt at the chance, but I have to admit that I was a little tentative…what could make this one taco shop stand out from so many others in San Diego? The answer: everything.
For starters, the restaurant itself is in a great location. I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing. La Jolla? La Jolla always seemed to me to be somewhere you can get a great meal if you’re willing to shell out, or you can get cheaper, crappy food that’s for tourists (sorry holiday makers). At Puesto, however, you don’t have to compromise anything. They use high quality ingredients to make the most interesting flavor combinations you could think of, and they do it in the friendliest, most comfortable manner. Megan and I had barely walked in the door when we were greeted by a happy face, given a menu and told to let her know if we had any questions. While looking over the menu, we had a few minutes to check out the inside before stuffing our faces. The wooden stools, bright colors, brick and metal were brought together in a way that felt industrial yet homey, and nicely set the mood for tacos.
I had checked out Puesto’s website before meeting up with Megan at Puesto’s amazing downtown La Jolla, and wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The website was amazing, kudos to the web designers, and I was having fun looking at all the options, dreaming/salivating about what combinations of meats and veggies I was going to get. But, fancy, gourmet tacos for very reasonable prices? I was either in for a second rate taco, or for a fabulous experience. Luckily for me (and all of you), it was the latter! While the salads and guisado bowls looked really good, Megan and I each had 3 tacos. Here’s the breakdown:
Megan – carne asada + nopales (cactus), pollo al pastor+pineapple, papa chorizo (potatoes with soy chorizo)
Me – pollo al pastor+pineapple (Megan copied me for the record), papa chorizo+Tinga (spicy onions with chipotle), zucchini flower+corn truffle
When you get cheese on your tacos, the chef will put some on the grill, and as it starts to melt, fills it with the meats/veggies you’ve chosen, wraps it up like a little burrito and sets it into the tortilla. Genius! How have I never thought of that?
Needless to say, Megan and I opted for cheese on all our tacos. They were topped with fresh avocado, cilantro, mild salsa for Megan and pistache salsa para mi.
Don’t get me wrong, the tacos are absolutely incredible, but even if they weren’t, I would go back for that salsa. I’ve never looked at a pistachio and thought, “hmm, I should make salsa out of that”. Luckily for me, the chef at Puesto did and I would put it on everything if I could. I even considered asking for a bowl of pistache salsa to go. It sounds sweet and mild, but that salsa had a kick, and it breaks my heart that Megan, who is a self professed spice wimp, couldn’t enjoy it.
We ended our meal with a refreshing Mexican street cup filled with fruits and veggies, lime, chili and sea salt. Soon, maybe even already, they’ll have beer, wine, and hibiscus margaritas. I’m seeing many happy hours here….
Eric and his brother Alan have really created something unique and worth visiting again and again in La Jolla. I’ve never seen a restaurant that had only been open a week be running so smoothly, full of happy, contented customers, and already have regulars. But after visiting Puesto, it’s not hard to believe. Before, I’d make the trek to the cove for a special meal or if a friend was in town, but thanks to Puesto, I’ll be spending a lot more time in the Village of La Jolla.
Photo Credits: Megan Ann Photography