When you start from San Diego, the further east you go the worse the Mexican food gets.
That’s not to say the tacos and burritos in Tucson or El Paso are bad, it’s just that San Diego seems to have a higher concentration of really good Mexican chow.
Dos Brasas, located in the Mission Hills community of San Diego, has become a local favorite of Sash and myself. There’s nothing fancy to it. It almost looks like a dump from the outside. But Dos Brasas has never been a favorite of tourists, only the locals. The locals don’t care if a taqueria looks like shit on the outside, because they know all the gold is in the inside.
As it turns out, the best places to find Mexican eats in San Diego are not to be found in higher end full service restaurants. You won’t find authentic South-of-the-border fare in such chains like El Torito, Acapulco, or God forbid, On The Border Grill.
Instead, it’s the little taqueria’s like Dos Brasas that make all the best grub.
Basically translated into “taco shop”, taquerias are where they focus on making authentic Mexican food, just like you get on the other side of the border.
And what is authentic Mexican food? If you consider that 90% of Mexicans in Mexico are poor, you can’t really consider a lean cut of beef as being authentic Mexican. Only the wealthy European descendants living in Mexico get to eat such fine cuts of meat. The rest of the Mexicans typically live on the cheaper cuts of pork and chicken. When it comes to beef, they’re getting the tongue, stomach, heart, head, and liver. Tacos Lingua (tongue tacos) or Tacos Cabeza (head tacos), is authentic Mexican.
But that doesn’t mean you have to eat cow brains to get real authentic Mexican food.
Any taqueria in San Diego will serve you up a shredded beef taco that’ll still beat the pants off a shredded beef taco in any other Americanized Mexican restaurant. The way the tortilla is deep fried, the thick helping of meat in the taco, and the simple topping of lettuce and cheese, you get the full favor of the grease and meat in every bite.
And don’t think that real Mexican food is smothered in red sauce and tons of cheese. They don’t really eat that way in Mexico. It’s not to say that kind of food is not good, it’s just not authentic Mexican.
But the real secret of a great taqueria is the salsa bar. There has to be a serve-yourself station of salsas ranging from mild to hot so that you can doctor up that taco the way you like. There needs to be chopped onions, chopped cilantro, sliced lime, and pickled jalapenos.
It’s like you have to go to Memphis for the best BBQ pork ribs or New York City for the best pizza. You have to visit a taqueria in San Diego to get the best Mexican food.
When getting food at Dos Brasas, we recommend taking it a few blocks away to Acoustic Ales, a local craft brewery and eating it there. Acoustic doesn’t offer food, so they don’t mind at all.
Dos Brasas Mexican Food
1890 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110