Food & Drink

8 great ways to pimp your tacos

Looking for a great taco? San Diego is a good place to start.

Sure, Mexico is the birthplace and all - we grant you that - but take the trip to this Californian City just north of Tijuana and you'll find a wealth of cool eateries putting a unique spin on this fabled street food from across the border.

Short of flying out there for yourself – and you really should – here are eight taco-related tips we picked up on a recent visit.

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    Fried fish and avocado

    If anywhere is threatening to turn this unfussy food discerningly high-end it's Galaxy Taco, a sprawling restaurant and tequila bar opened last year down near the pristine coastline of La Jolla (San Diego's answer to Beverly Hills).

    That Baja fried fish is the most popular item on chef Trey Foshee’s menu won't come as much of a surprise to visitors: fried to perfection and topped with cabbage, spicy cream and avocado, it'll gratify your taste buds and warm your very soul - which you’d probably sell for another one.

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    Cow tongue

    What, cow got your tongue? Another firm favourite at Galaxy Taco is lengua, otherwise known as beef tongue, a delicacy in Latin America and best served alongside sweet peppers and salads blasting with citric flavour. If you are able to forget the fact what you're chewing was effectively once used by some poor creature to make their own food more digestible, it's a rugged, surprisingly juicy delight. Douse plentifully with marinade.

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    Blue corn tortillas

     The thinking man's tortilla: these Eiffel 65-approved beauties are not only healthier than their regular counterparts - containing 20 per cent more protein and significantly less starch than white tortillas - but sweeter in taste too.

    Staff at Galaxy Taco produce their own in-house, and while you’ll probably have to make do with ordering yours online (the crops are native to Central and North America, and you’ve probably got better things to do), it’ll be well worth it. When Tim in accounts sees you grappling with one of these at lunch he’ll be feeling pretty blue himself.

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    Crickets

    'North America doesn't do cricket', they said. Well nobody told Tacos Perla that. This hipster joint, drawing the hipster types in the trendy neighbourhood of North Park for a short while now, has made something of a name for itself thanks to this insect-filled oddity. Much safer than the chapuline (grasshopper) served across the border, these crispy creatures will make a novel addition to any taco. Crunchy, surprisingly flavoursome and - dare we say it - moreish, what better way to assert your dominance atop the food chain?

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    Ginger Ketchup

    As in Mexico, the bulk of taco joints in San Diego offer pico de gallo - fresh, uncooked salad made from chopped tomato, onion, coriander leaves, salt, and lime juice. All very well and good, but at Tacos Perla you'll also find their homemade miracle sauce: ginger ketchup, subtly used to help expound bold flavours of meat. 

    To make something similar, combine vinegar, onion, ginger, sugar in a saucepan, bring to simmer and cook for a minute. Stir in a hefty few dollops of ketchup, add jalapeno, lime juice and salt, leave to chill, spoon it onto your tacos before haughtily showing it off on Instagram.

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    Mango chutney and pineapple sauce

     Put the chilli sauce down. Go on, screw that lid back on that fiery tub before you make a fool of yourself. If salsa won’t cut it, another leftfield sauce can be found over at San Diego's Taco Factory, which deftly tops its marinated Mahi Mahi with some pineapple mango chutney. A sweet and sour knockout of a sauce, it proves perfect foil alongside the softly bitter notes of red cabbage. Add a few spoonfuls of pineapple juice to some store-bought mango chutney and away you go.

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    Shrimp and ceviche

    Do as Paul Hogan would do and throw another shrimp on your taco. In fact, hell, why not throw caution to the wind and lathering it with citrus juice and handfuls of fresh salad? That's the approach favoured by Trey Foshee, whose Instagram feed of his culinary creations is so high on the food porn scale it's practically NSFW

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    Braised octopus with corriander sauce and pesto

    You’ve spotted a pattern now haven't you? In a city practically drowning in great seafood, it would be flat out rude not to endorse a few more ocean-based offerings, including this limited-edition dish from those fancy folk at Galaxy Taco, who've combined braised octopus with cilantro (American English for coriander) sauce, finished off with a dollop of pesto.

    If you are headed over and looking to explore the La Jolla area- and there are taco joints aplenty in this well-heeled area - we suggest making your base the Grand Colonial, a historic hotel situated right in the heart of the shopping district.

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    Now get out there yourself

    America As You Like It packages start from £2530.00pp based on two people sharing travelling in July, including return flights on British Airways from Heathrow to San Diego, seven days fully inclusive car hire and seven nights room only at the Grand Colonial Hotel San Diego.

    Visit Sandiego.org for more