Adding a globe-spanning spin on traditional Mexican presentation, Bull Taco turns cultural preconceptions sideways with a delectable selection of remixed street tacos, bulging burritos, and tasty tortas. Pavement pounders beat a path to locations in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Oceanside, where the taco pendulum swings from traditional carne asada, chicken, and carnitas ($1.75 each) toward gourmet upgrades including duck confit ($2.50), abalone ($10), and foie gras ($10). Muzzle riotous stomach roosters with a sunrise selection from Bull Taco's all-day breakfast menu, with carnitas, bacon, and chorizo snugly snoozing through meaty dreams in the machaca burrito's ($7) tortilla sleeping bag.
Sure, diners could make tacos at home, by ripping open a packet of premixed spices and heating up some factory-made tortillas. Or they could take a drive to Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, where nothing is ever pre-made, where everything on the menu is crafted the traditional way: from scratch and with local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In 1981, owners Dave Murphey and Pete Johnson opened the first location of Las Olas Mexican Restaurant, an homage to the eateries they enjoyed as they grew up, surfing on Mexican beaches. They claim to have brought the first fish taco stateside, and strive to serve similarly tasty and healthful fare. Whether enjoying a traditional Mexican dish such as tostadas or crisp chimichangas, or one of the specialties, such as shrimp tacos or seafood enchiladas, diners rest easy knowing that as they eat, their carbon footprint is shrinking without subjecting their foot to laser liposuction. The seafood served is sustainable, and all paper products are recycled.
San Luis Rey Bakery’s ovens have turned out countless dozens of Mexican breads and pastries for more than four decades. The family-run confection shop bakes up a staggering array of pastries—from fruit pies and madelines to sweet empanadas and conchasa, or Mexican sweet breads. The sweet treats top off meals from the adjoining restaurant, where chefs simmer huevos rancheros and build sandwiches on house-baked bread. From each teal-cushioned seat in the dining room, patrons can tuck into meals and admire Mexican folk art and the vivid wall mural, or attempt to ruffle the strings of papel picado that crisscross the ceiling with cake-induced telepathy.
Along with San Luis Rey’s bevy of recipes, the bakery also focuses on wedding cakes. The celebratory stacks are adorned in delicate polka dots and paisleys or intricate swirls of creamy white frosting. For birthdays, the shop designs cakes topped with chocolate-covered fruits or vivid layers of fondant.
Ceja's Mexican Diner & Grill uses original recipes exclusively, and makes all of its salsa and soups from scratch. The quick-service restaurant greets all of its guests with complimentary baskets of freshly baked tortilla chips and main courses follow in the form of gourmet tacos and Mexican bowls presented on a bed of spanish rice, beans, cheese, and guacamole. No matter the time, Ceja's also offers an all-day breakfast menu. On that, guests find such specialties as huevos divorciados, or two eggs served in a fried corn tortilla.
Marieta's Restaurant sates border-bound appetites with a Mexican fare-laden menu of fresh, traditional dishes and made-from-scratch tortillas. Quell stomach uprisings with any number of Marieta's tempting house specialties, such as the carnitas, lean pork roast with traditional mexican meat dress-ups ($13.25), or a selection of pescatarian options, including the enchiladas de cangrejo with crab meat and green sauce ($14.95). Ovovores can indulge their yolky daydreams with huevos rancheros, two eggs atop a tortilla covered with ranchero sauce ($8.50), or a weekend brunch entree of nopalitos con huevo, a hearty combo of scrambled eggs cooked with tender cactus, tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Brunch comes with a glass of champagne or a margarita for adults, and a side of fresh fruit for any carbon-based life form ($10.95).