Tacos’s Don Paco ~ Vista

Taco’s Don Paco (yes the apostrophe is correct) opened about 2 months ago in Vista at 800 Civic Center Dr. just north of S. Santa Fe Dr. on the right.

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It is a strip mall taco shop, though it stands out with its store front and clean interior.


*Interior photo via Yelp

They have the standard offering of Tortas, Burritos, Tostadas, Quesadillas, Mulitas. I think the stand out though are their street tacos. They have 13 types including quite a bit of ofal. Also they are only $1.75 each. My meal of 4 with a large drink was $8.23 total.

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An array of street tacos. Carnitas, Al Pastor, Lengua (tongue), and Suadero ( a cut of beef between the belly and leg).

The Al Pastor was super tasty and everything it should be, as was the Lengua, slow braised tongue. It melted in your mouth.

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Carnitas and Suadero street tacos.

Again, great carnitas. A lot of times carnitas at taco shops are too fatty or they use the cooking liquid to hide the dryness of the pork. These were tender and juicy.

Suadero, a very favor cut of beef. Actually reminded me of a cross between steak and a pork chop.

If you are looking for good honest Mexican food at a great price this is a place to try out. Any of the “bertos” style places are not even in the same league. Even my go to street taco place Primo’s gets edged out slightly.

One complaint, and if you go you will get this, they need bigger salsa cups.


Taco’s Don Paco

800 Civic Center Dr. Vista

#taco #food #foodporn

Sinaloa MXN & Seafood

This is why I write. I am very lucky to eat the way I do and know the Chefs I know. As much as I love Monchong with tangerine salt and anything with snail butter from Chef Willy this is again what I relish. Family recipes passed down from generations. Do not go here and get a carne asada burrito, talk to the family, because that is who you will be dealing with. The mother cooks the son and daughter run the front of house.

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A modest interior hides what is really going on. On a side note the eldest son is a professional boxer.

I just said cook me something you love. She thought about it and it paid off.

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She asked me if I wanted to see how my food was being made. Yes, please and thank you.

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A starter bonus dish. Soup made from the braise that my main was cooked in with star pasta. I felt like a little kid, this meal brought me back to my childhood. This what food is supposed to do.

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The menu..I do not see what I ate on there. They do .99 cent fish tacos as well.

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Hands down the best chili relleno I have ever had. The fry? perfect, the bell pepper still had a crunch and was fresh. The sides flawless. I was told this was her mother’s and her mother’s and her mother’s recipe …it showed.

Then I was asked do want to try her flan she made this morning? You can not say no to that.

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Yep, and then this. Perfect.

Look I do not preach a lot but this place needs to be supported. You do not get this very often. They are lucky that a new Crunch Fitness is about to open in the same plaza along with a something I am not supposed to talk about gourmet doughnut place.

I tipped heavy and walked out spending $20 dollars a steal for what I ate.

Go, talk, eat. nuff said!

Sinaloa MXN & Seafood

1759 Oceanside Blvd. Oceanside, Ca

#food #foodporn #Oceanside #mexicanfood

Bits and Bites ~ December / January

So, here are some meals I had over the last month and a half, that while don’t fit into a stand alone post, deserve mentioning. You may want to check them out if you want a solid bite to eat.


Greek Chicken at Paul’s Place ~ Oceanside

Paul’s Place is owned by, I believe, the brother of the owner of Angelo’s. It is a fast casual restaurant serving a smaller but similar menu. The one thing I like is they serve a few more Greek items, like the Greek Chicken. Moist lemon chicken with rice pilaf and pita bread. A winner for lunch at under $10.

Paul’s Place ~ 3671 Mission Ave. Oceanside.


Carnitas Plate Combo at Primo Foods ~ Oceanside

Perfectly moist carnitas, guacamole, rice, beans, flour or corn tortillas and a drink for $5.99 on Wednesdays. That can not be beat. Also check out their $0.69 Taco Tuesdays and BBQ on the weekends. They also have great homemade guacamole and salsas to go at the market. It’s a cornucopia of delicious options.

Primo Market ~ 606 Morse St. Oceanside


Cornish Game Hen at Luna Grill ~ Carlsbad

So, first off , it was surprising to see Cornish Game Hen at a fast casual restaurant, more surprising how well they executed it. It had a nice char on the outside and was tender and moist inside. Served with Basmati rice, charred tomato, and a house salad.

If you find yourself at the, hugely under construction, Carlsbad Mall, Luna Grill is a solid fast casual choice.

Luna Grill ~ 2501 El Camino Real, Oceanside.


Pepian at Aydee’s Garnacheria ~ Fallbrook

Aydee’s is a small cafe near downtown Fallbrook that does Mexican and Guatemalan dishes.

I wondered in for lunch and had a very solid version of Pepian (think Guatemalan Mole). While I wish the sauce had a little more depth it was still very satisfying. I also really liked the rice and beans. The rice was more of a Pilaf style and the beans were cooked rather than refried.

Aydee’s Garnacheria ~ 110 east Mission Rd. Fallbrook


Wood Fired croissants at Biga ~ San Diego

I was given one of these while at the Hog Roast at Biga last week. I did not mention them in that report because they were not part of the event but still wanted to give them a shout out. I have a pretty high standard for croissants and these are right up there with the best, plus the wood fire cooking just pushes them into that very special place. Definintly grab one if your in downtown San Diego, even if you’re not eating at Biga (which i highly recommend you do).

Biga ~ 950 6th Ave. San Diego


Pizza Of The Month “Spicy Spinach” at Pizza Port ~ Carlsbad

So last, and surprisingly my least favorite, pizza at pizza Pizza Port. Now, there was nothing wrong with this pie. The crust was good and I finished it, it just did not wow me. I have never been to Pizza Port and they are somewhat of an institution, so I was nearby and decided to try them. Maybe it was an expectation thing? I would much prefer The Privateer or Pizzamaniac for flavor. I know usually, I just won’t mention it but it did surprise me so I thought I would. I did not go in expecting Mozza, but was expecting more than I got.

Pizza Port ~ 571 Carlsbad Village Dr.

Ok, back to looking for a room to rent.




Chronic Tacos Coming to Downtown Oceanside.

Chronic Tacos will be moving in at 208 N. Coast Highway in downtown Oceanside. The spot is 2 doors north of Swami’s across from TBG BBQ.


Chronic Tacos is a fresh, Mexican, fast casual concept that started in 2002 in Newport beach. They now have about 40 US locations and some in Canada.


They are basically decent americanized Mexican food. While I would love a mom and pop place, it still fills a vacancy that has been that way for a while and exposes people to other local places in the area.


Rumor is Grubby’s (Carlsbad) is looking to come to Oceanside as well.

Chronic Tacos

Vamos A Texacoco ~ Vista

With my move into my new place closer to Vista, you will see more reports from that area. One place I have been meaning to go back and report on is Vamos A Texacoco. What sets them apart from other taco shops is their menu. It’s all about the BBQ Lamb here and that is what you should be ordering. They also serve goat as well as huitlacoche ( corn mushroom or fungus) and zucchini flower quesadillas.

Vamos A Texaco is a nondescript strip mall taco shop on the exterior.


Vamos A Texacoco ~ 950 East Vista Way, Vista

I ordered the mixed lamb meal, a combination of lean meat and fattier cuts,


Lamb Broth ~ Lamb broth, gabanzo beans, and tripe.

The order starts off with a lovely, rich cup of lamb broth. This has true depth of flavor.


Full order of BBQ Lamb ~ 1/2 lb of mixed lamb meat, tortillas, and accompanyments.

The mixed plate is the way to go, you get the gamey, soft, and moist bits and the lean pieces that add structure.


You can make little lamb tacos. ~ Lamb, cilantro, onion, and green salsa.

I made 4 hefty tacos with my order. The green salsa has a really fresh almost grassy flavor that goes great against the richness of the lamb and the cilantro and onions add texture. Tip ~ they are great dipped in the lamb broth.

At $10.75 this is an authentic, delicious, satisfying meal.

They also have whole lambs head if you are so inclined.

Vamos A Texacoco

950 East Vista Way,  Vista

Weekend BBQ @ Primos ~ Oceanside

So, I am a pretty big fan of Primo’s for their Mexican food and handmade salsas and guacamole. They have a great Tuesday taco special, street tacos are $0.69 apiece. In addition every Friday thru Sunday, they BBQ outside and sell meats by the pound or as sandwiches and plates.


Primo’s weekend BBQ ~ Primo Market 606 Morse St. Oceanside.


BBQ menu.

One of my favorite two-word combinations is “BBQ Tri-tip”, So, I headed down Saturday to grab some.


The BBQ is purchased inside the market to take home or eat on the outdoor seating.


Their selection of handmade salsas and guacamole. There is a sample station by the register with chips so you can gauge the heat levels. My favorite is the green serrano salsa, it packs quite a kick.


Tri-tip Plate ~ Tri-tip, rice, beans, guacamole, tortilla, and toppings.


Build your own mini burrito bite. I ate the rest of the tri-tip plain because it was so tasty and ate the rest of the tortilla with guacamole, rice, and beans.

This is a great weekend lunch for $8.99. The tri-tip is flavorful and juicy. I mean it is not “Flying Pig” good, but it is close.

Primo Market

606 Morse St, Oceanside

#BBQ #food #foodporn #oceanside

Señor Grubby’s – Carlsbad

Hi, I’m Jason. I’m hungry. Who wants tacos?

There are a thousand taco shops in North County, and most are serving pretty much the same standard stuff, most done just … okay. So it’s a treat when a place goes the extra mile to elevate the old standbys and also throws in some interesting housemade twists.  Señor Grubby’s in Carlsbad is definitely putting in the extra effort, and it shows.  Here’s a report from two recent visits.

They have a huge breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with tacos, burritos, tortas, and lots of other goodies.  But I decided to focus on the basics. Tacos. A Mexican place must make good tacos. If they do tacos well, then it’s safe to explore the rest of the menu on later trips.

House Smoked Pork Belly

They are now smoking their own honey-jalapeno pork belly.

Por exemplo:  They are now smoking their own pork belly.  Now, I love me some pork belly, but only if it’s done right.  And this one was done right.  Honey-Jalapeño flavored and cooked perfectly. The chunks were meaty and the fat was rendered and crisp, but not too crunchy, like perfectly cooked bacon. It came in a street taco sized corn tortilla with grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro and guac.  Very good, the pineapple complemented the pepper heat nicely.  I added a dab of salsa halfway through for even more kick. On a second visit, there was way too much guac on the taco, but these things happen.


The honey-jalapeno pork belly taco with cilantro, onions, guacamole, and pineapple. This one was well proportioned.

Also along for the ride on the mix-n-match 3-taco plate for $10.25: a pollo asado and a carnitas taco, and rice and beans.  The pollo was tasty and moist and well seasoned.  The carnitas was good as well, but needed an assist from the salsa bar to really pop. The beans were tasty.  The rice was decent but nothing spectacular.  I like the refried beans more than the black beans, but that was mostly just a personal taste preference.

Three taco plate

Three taco plate

They were promoting their “new” carne asada as being made from top sirloin now instead of the traditional skirt steak or flap meat. I didn’t care for the change myself, the meat was in small diced cubes rather than the traditional strips and needed a lot more salt and seasoning in my opinion. It was quite bland compared to what I’m used to around here.  Hopefully they will get this dialed in soon.

A quite pleasant surprise were the tortilla chips.  They fry them to order, meaning they come out fresh and HOT and super crisp. These might be the best chips I’ve had at a taco place. Also worth a shout out (and a shout) was the chilanga salsa, one of their (5? 6? 7?) salsas offered. It is intensely flavorful but VERY hot.  It says it right there on the sign and they mean it. Great flavor, but be careful with this stuff because it packs a punch.

All their meats and salsas are prepared on site. The al pastor meat is cut off the rotisserie right in front of you and is quite good. They have a well-curated beer list, with 12 beers on tap plus many more in bottle. Quite a good selection for a taco shop, and not just IPAs. They also have a small wine list and a few “cocktails” on offer, though be aware that the do not have a liquor license so the drinks are made with such things as agave wine in the “margarita”, not real Tequila. As a, ahem, seasoned cocktail drinker I usually find these kinds of cocktails odd and not that good, so I steer clear of them as a rule and stuck with beer both times.

All in all a good, solid taco place with some thoughtful, interesting specials, a nice beer selection and definitely some thought going into the menu. Service was quite friendly and checked back to make sure things were good, which they were.This one’s a keeper.

Señor Grubby’s
377 Carlsbad Village Drive
Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 729-6040

A Few Cinco de Mayo Recs ~ or if you just want good authentic Mexican food

Here are a few of my go to places for good authentic Mexican food in North County.

No better way to celebrate the Battle of Puebla, victory over the French and taco Tuesday all rolled into one.

Primos’s Market ~ Oceanside

606 Morse St
Oceanside, CA 92054
b/t Freeman St & Alvarado St


Great street tacos, regularly $.99 on special $.69 . They have great Fresh made salsa and guacamole to accompany them.

Go to Dish: Any of the street tacos. Pick up a carton of their home made guac. to go at the market.

Mariscos Ensanada ~ Oceanside


Aguachile ~ Shrimp, avocado, red onion, in a jalapeno broth.

Go To Dishes: Best Carnitas in North County, any shrimp dish (though potions are kinda small), Aguachile and ceviche

Lola’s 7 up Market and Deli ~ Carlsbad

3292 Roosevelt St,
Carlsbad, CA 92008

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHole in the wall Mexican  restaurant inside a neighborhood market.

Go To Dishes: Carne Asada anything (They get all their meat from Tip Top Meats in Carlsbad) and fish tacos.

Karina’s Taco Shop ~ Encinitas

916 N Highway 101
Encinitas, CA


Authentic Mexican Seafood

Go To Dishes: Spicy Shrimp Taco and Octopus Taco

La Especial Norte ~ Encinitas

664 North Coast Highway 101


Lots to Like here,. larger menu selection at dinner.

Go To Dishes: Any of their moles, the chicken tortilla soup, and I’m a sucker for a good shrimp cocktail.

So there are some places I like for Mexican food. Not all inclusive and I left out some Americanized places like Haggo’s in Cardiff, Puesto in La Jolla / San Diego and Grubby’s / Los Tacos in Carlsbad and Oceanside that are all great in their own right.

Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer ~ Oceanside

I had Heard good things about Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer and decided to check them out. I love Mariscos so this was right up my alley, plus I have not given the valley much love these days and this strip mall had a few other places that caught my eye while I was there. Miramar is located at 41 Douglas Dr Suite 101. (it’s really in the strip mall where Douglas ends into Mission right next to a huge corner building 7/11) I got a little lost finding it.


The space has been open about 6 weeks.

The menu is good-sized without being over whelming and features the usual tacos, tostadas, ceviche, and a few burritos. Price wise and comparison wise I would compare them to Taco Bar in Vista and San Marcos (where I recently ate but I liked this place better)


They have a good happy hour M – F 3 to 6 and for right now .99 cent fish tacos.


Nice clean interior and fast and friendly customer service. They have takeout or table service, which is kind of confusing because it looks like you order at the register and seat yourself.

sea soup

sea soup close up

Seafood Soup ~ Tasty with lots of shrimp, white fish, and octopus inside.

I wish this were a little more spicy but a little table side hot sauce fixes that.

fish taco

Fish Taco ~ Nice white fish, salsa, and white sauce.

99 cents right now can not be beat.

smoked tuna

Smoked Tuna Taco ~ Smoked Tuna, white sauce, cilantro.

This is the best version I have had of this taco (OK I have only had 2 but this one is the best)


Shrimp Diablo Taco ~ Shrimp, Diablo sauce.

Oops, I ate half before taking the picture…I swear this has never happened to me before:)

Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer

41 Douglas Dr Suite 100
Oceanside, CA 92054



Hole In The Wall Report ~ Primo Foods ~ Oceanside

Hole in the Wall

So, in helping plan your weekly Mexican food fix, I decided to talk about Primo Foods in Oceanside.

Primo Foods has been serving North County for twenty years. They have two locations, one in Vista and one in Oceanside. I have only been to the Oceanside location. I have heard from different people “Go to the X location not The Y location and vice versa “. I live in Oceanside, so that is what you get:) Plus “if int ain’t broke…”


The great thing about Primo are their deals; Taco Tuesday and Burrito Wednesday. They feature 69 cent street tacos and $3.99 burritos plus a drink (the drink is only with burritos)

Both deals give you the choice of Carne Asada, Pollo Asada, Carnitas, or Al Pastor


He looks so happy.


Street Tacos ~ Left to right ~ Pollo Asada, Al Pastor, Carnitas, and Carne Asada

My favorites were the Carne Asada and the Carnitas, though all were tasty.

They also have a full menu and do BBQ in the parking lot Friday – Sunday. I diffidently want to check out their Tri-Tip.



So, there you go great inexpensive lunch stop or if you need to buy food for a lot of people but still want quality at a good price.

Primo Foods

 606 Morse St
Ca. 92054