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If it’s Tuesday, it must be tacos!

Tijuana style carne asada taco paired with the mahi mahi Baja style taco

San Diegans are fortunate to live in the land of ‘tos – Roberto’s, Alberto’s, Gilberto’s – a city of ubiquitous mom-and-pop taco shops. This is why you don’t see a lot of Taco Bells or Del Tacos in San Diego. We know what’s authentic and settle for nothing less.

My friends have been telling me to check out Tacos Perla for quite a while, so I finally took their advice. I kick myself for not visiting sooner.

The small high-ceilinged space is located on a busy corner in North Park. HVAC and pipes are exposed overhead. Numerous polaroids of smiling happy patrons adorn the eggshell white and cornflower blue walls. The communal tables are wood-topped or tiled. To one side, an efficient exposed kitchen so you can watch the action.

I placed my order at the counter, was given a number and took a seat inside. A large bus rumbled up, wheezed to a stop and disgorged passengers. Patrons seated outdoors carried on their conversations unfazed by the hubbub.

My adventure in authenticity began with chips and guacamole ($7). The smooth blend of fresh nutty avocado is flavored with a scant splash of lemon juice and topped by a mango pico de gallo, with lots of diced tomatoes, red onions, garlic and cilantro. The handmade chips are thick, crunchy and hot from the fryer.

Next up, a “non-traditional” El Campechano Taco ($3.95). The soft tortilla shell is stuffed with fire roasted chile, sautéed spinach, bites of firm octopus, several medium sized wild caught shrimp marinated in ginger and chile achiote (made with annatto derived from the seeds of the achiote tree – the flavor is somewhat peppery with a hint of ginger), and avocado. Grab extra napkins because this delight is really juicy.

The highlight of my culinary escapade was the Adobado Taco ($3.50). A mouthwateringly delicious concoction crafted with succulent slow roasted 24-hour marinated pork, topped by salsa verde, guacamole and thin strips of pineapple. Seriously. You really need to put this in your mouth.

I washed everything down with a cold Tecate beer ($3.50). Not the best cerveza in the world; thin bodied, a blank finish, no hoppy bitterness, but the brew was on special, so what the heck.

Perla’s salsa bar features six selections ranging from “mild” to “extra hot”. Choices include: 1) mild pickled onions, 2) sweet and mild pineapple, turmeric and basil salsa, 3) salsa fresca with smoked dried chiles, 4) a blend of poblano pepper, sesame seed, morita chili (similar to poblano, but a little sweeter) and purple onion, 5) an oil-based blend of ground peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and Brazilians with chile de árbol (similar to a serrano chile in terms of heat), and 6) the extra hot carrot and habanero emulsion. Perla also suggests salsa pairings for various tacos – for instance, the Adobado Taco couples nicely with pineapple salsa. Delicioso!

Tacos not your thing? Then try one of their burritos, each topped with crema, guacamole, guajillo chile sauce and pickled veggies. Choices include “Califas” with adobado, roasted peppers and mustard onion rings, “Pacifico” with smoked tuna, potatoes and chorizo “dirt”, and the “San Quintin” made with spicy hummus, portobello mushroom, eggplant and jack cheese.

Open seven days a week – forewarned there’s a crowd for lunch and dinner – Tacos Perla discounts various selections for Taco Tuesday. No time for lines? Order online for pickup. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.

Tacos Perla

3000 Upas St.

Open daily 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.



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Posted by on Oct 13, 2016. Filed under Bottom Highlights, Eat This!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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