I mentioned in the my last post that over our last couple of trips to SD, we’ve been surveying taco joints. We made our second San Diego Taco Crawl just recently with a group of friends, while in town for a friend’s birthday. This time we headed down to Barrio Logan–a really vibrant Chicano neighborhood that has held up through several waves of adversity. (You can find a history of the many crappy hands this neighborhood has been dealt, along with the battles it’s still fighting here.)
Despite everything, this area seems to thrive in the face of it all and is well worth the trip for foodies, beer geeks, and art lovers alike. There is plenty here to draw your attention.
We began our second taco crawl with a little seafood. To be honest I was almost put off by the bright shininess of Mariscos El Pulpo. It has all the glossiness of a Señor Frogs, which doesn’t exactly scream authentic. But hey, books and covers and all that. And it was pretty nice to chill on their large patio on a sunny day.
My perception began to change as soon as the chips and salsa came out–they were considerably better than average. I already have trouble keeping away from those, even when they’re bad, so I had to make a real concerted effort here given that we had a full day of eating ahead of us.
First out was my Chelada–your choice of beer, with clamato, fresh lime, and ice, in a large glass rimmed with salt flavored with Chamoy and Tajin (spicy condiments). Think of it like a Mexican Bloody Mary of sorts–perfect for brunch time. Regular Micheladas with beer and lime juice were also on the menu if clamato is not your thing. There are plenty of other beers and cocktails to choose from as well.
The El Pulpo House Ceviche was a perfect starter for enjoying with a group. It comes piled high with shrimp, octopus, Mexican scallops, avocado slices, and a couple of oysters serve as the cherry on top. Dig in with those tortilla chips.
Taking a cue from the name of the place, Greg and I each got one of the octopus tacos on the menu.
I got the Pulpo Enchilado taco in 7 chile sauce, while he got the Pulpo Ajillo taco in garlic sauce with chile ajillo butter. No chewy octopus here–very tasty.
Pulpo Enchilado Taco
Pulpo Ajillo Taco
Stop 2 on this taco crawl was ¡Salud! by catering company San Diego Taco Company. The gorgeous mural, by local artist GANE, can’t help but immediately grab your eye as you walk in, and it sets the tone as a distinctly Barrio Logan joint, keeping in line with all of the amazing murals you’ll see in the surrounding streets. I loved the vibe.
We tried the al pastor, the birra, and the fish tacos. All were quite good, but the tortillas were the real stars here. These corn tortillas are really thick, toothsome, and add a lot of texture.
Birra and Al Pastor Tacos
Their mulitas double-down on that tasty tortilla goodness, creating a kind of quesadilla/taco sandwich–I sampled the carne asada version and really think this is the way to go. Even if you don’t want to have the two tortillas together, take the second one and enjoy dipping it into the great selection of salsas from their salsa bar.
The drinks list includes a selection of local drafts, as well as few mixed drinks. These tend to be fun twists on Mexican classics like the Hooch Horchata, a spiked version of the original.
Much like our last taco crawl, this one ended with a 2fer–Tury’s Tacos at Border X Brewing. Apparently, Border X is the only 100% Latino owned brewery in San Diego. That influence shows up directly in the beers–they’re infused with classic Mexican flavorings like hibiscus and agave in the Blood Saison ( I got notes of blood orange and cherry in how it reads too), and vanilla bean and cinnamon in the Horchata Golden Stout.
The decor here is also pretty amazing and there’s more space out back where you’ll find a beer garden and Tury’s Tacos.
I was pretty full at this point, so I admittedly picked at my friends’ food. The nachos were excellent, piled high with all kinds of good things and the chorizo was on point.
One spot we sadly didn’t get to hit was Las Cuatro Milpas, which has been there for generations and is still incredibly popular with lines that tend to run out the door, or so I hear. We’ll have to find another moment (hopefully in some off hour) to hit that up.
If you’re in this neighborhood, you should absolutely take a stroll through Chicano Park. This park is basically the result of the neighborhood making lemonade out some really crappy lemons. Freeway expansion on the I-5 split the neighborhood in half in the 1960’s. (See here for a bit of the history.) Beautiful murals are now painted on the pillars. Here is a sampling of murals from the park and the surrounding area.
You can find images of even more Barrio Logan Street Art here,
The neighborhood also hosts a regular Art Crawl every second Saturday of the month. Would love to hear input on it from any readers who might have had a chance to go. If you have more food recs in the area, would of course love to hear those as well!
Thanks again to Dave Lizerbram for guiding and helping to put together this taco crawl. Please check out his podcast, Products of the Mind.
Here are a couple more useful links:
Neighborhood Guide: Barrio Logan
Barrio Logan's Chill'n with Artists and Chicano Culture