Taking the Taco Tour in Rosarito

by Jack E. George

How can anyone possibly live in Baja — especially in Rosarito Beach – without indulging in some hot, delicious tacos? I never realized there are so many different types –ranging from ‘la cabeza’ (head) to shrimp and fish to tongue and tripa (tripe). While I visited the town’s taco stands, one of my Mexican amigas was translating for me. She scolded me when I raised my eyebrows after she suggested I try a taco de cabeza.

Before I started my taco tasting adventure, though, I had to figure out where to go.  How do you choose the best taco stands in Rosarito Beach? Well, the following certainly is not a scientific measurement. Chances are any professional taco tasters (if there are such people) would certainly laugh at my way of evaluating the taco stands. Here goes…

I began by asking the owner, or a worker, at each establishment what other stands they would recommend in our beautiful city. Then, just to make certain I did not miss out on any ‘research’, I asked several members (taco aficionados, all) in the community. Hence, these taco stands listed are not in any order — for instance, they are not listed as if it were a contest, such as the #1 stand, the #2 stand, and so forth.  Just to be clear, no ribbons, no gold medal, or other award will be given!

Tacos El Paisano is located on the main thoroughfare of Rosarito Beach. It is directly across the street, on the corner, from the arcade of 198 stores.  Customer Edson Ruiz said the taco stand always offers excellent quality food and that the service is great. Luis, the interpreter, told me that the place is outstanding due to the fresh, tender meat and that the tortillas are extra good because they are made on site. They offer a variety of tacos including beef, tongue, and cabeza. It should not be a surprise that I chose the beef taco. I must admit it was delicious. However, I really enjoyed the tortilla — it had a very unique taste. The beef was very tender.

Homemade tortillas make a difference

Tacos El Yaqui, aka El Yaqui y Yaqui has been a favorite seemingly forever. According to Felipe Munoz, the son of the owner, this stand has been in Rosarito Beach for nearly 30 years. That longevity speaks highly of the stand. Felipe says the meat is cooked over an oak fire which adds a great flavor. He said that the meat choice is different as they use a unique cut of steak.  This is the first place I visited, as a friend took me here when I first moved to Rosarito Beach six years ago. The taco does have a very different taste which seems to originate from the oak fire. This is an excellent choice – certainly unlike any taco you will find at the typical taco franchises in the U.S. The stand is located on the corner of Calle Mar del Norte, one block east of the main boulevard.

Tacos El Gerente offer bigger tacos using flour tortilla, according to owner Hugo Alfonzo. He says his beef tacos are the best in Rosarito Beach. Of course, that’s what I was told at each taco stand, but who am I to argue. El Gerente is located on Calle Mar del Norte, on the corner, just a short walk from Tacos El Yaqui. I spoke with several customers. Each one said that these tacos are “the best in town.”

You will find Tacos El Zurdo across the street from McDonald’s on the main boulevard. Maria, one of the customers, explained that the flavor alone makes this the most outstanding taco stand in Rosarito Beach. She added that the spices also add to the flavor. As she interpreted for one of the employees, he yelled out, “Each one is made with special preparation and with love.” Maria opened her package showing me the taco she had just purchased for her and her husband. It was a foot long, six inches wide, and six inches tall. It was a monster of a taco unlike any I have ever seen before – certainly unlike any you will find at McDonalds or Jack in the Box in the U.S. Maria said that El Zurdo is the only taco stand she visits in Rosarito Beach.

Finally, the fifth taco stand is Pepe’s Asadaderos. Interpreter Jose Espinoza explained that they offer the best tacos in Baja (seems like I heard this before – elsewhere, hmmm…). The place is owned by Jose “Pepe” Luis Cervantes and it is located a few doors south of Waldo’s. Jose said that the tacos are the best because they are always served with the freshest meat. Also, he said that fresh salsa is prepared by the employees every day and customers can have everything they want from a large variety of choices. One of the employees then blurted out, “They are the best tacos because the best workers work here.”  There are a number of tacos to choose from including tripa and asada. Customer Edie Vines chooses Pepe’s “because they offer all sorts of goodies.” She also enjoys the fact that the place is lit up at night and offers Mexican music. She describes the tacos in one word:  ”Delicious!”

Lots of customers means fresh tacos!

Although not everyone might agree with my particular method of choosing the top taco stands, it works for me!  With a steady stream of customers, the food is fresh and always tasty.  I encourage you to visit these stands as well as any others you might choose. Who knows, maybe there is another gem out there just waiting to be discovered!  If there is, let us know…

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