The (Absolute) 10 Best Mexican Restaurants In La Jolla

best mexican restaurants in La Jolla
[UPDATED 5/27/15]
La Jolla is known as a culinary destination with renowned and award-winning chefs. But did you know La Jolla is also home to 15 “Mexican” restaurants? Each with their own unique take on Mexican food and claim to fame such as ‘best burrito’ or ‘best fish tacos.’ But which one is truly THE best Mexican restaurant in La Jolla?

We used empirical research to answer this question. Why is this list absolute? The list is based on aggregating scores from rating sites used by actual diners and not based on personal opinion like some other top 10 lists or random voting polls you may have seen recently. Think of it like a ‘Metacritic’ for Mexican restaurants.

The ratings sites used were Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google. Why these three sources? They all have two important things in common — all of the reviews are from diners and are ranked out of five stars. The five-star rating enabled us to get an average across the board. This also helped to account for locations that had higher scores but low numbers of reviews and vice-versa.

As I mentioned in the intro, La Jolla has a total of 15 “Mexican” restaurants but we only included 10 of the 15. This is because we only wanted to include establishments or eateries that were either founded or exclusive to the Village of La Jolla which includes Bird Rock. And the 10 best Mexican restaurants in La Jolla are…

10. El Charro
2175 Avenida De La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
el charro
Coming in at the bottom of the list is El Charro. Located in La Jolla Shores this casual Mexican eatery enjoys probably one of the best locations in La Jolla. If you’re in the mood for a burrito after a long day at the Shores and don’t want to drive then this is the spot for you. The serving sizes are decent and people seem to love the free chips and salsa while you wait for your food.

SEE ALSO: Best Taco Tuesday Deals in La Jolla.

9. Alfonso’s [UPDATE: closing 10/15/15]
1251 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
alfonsos la jolla
This sit-down Mexican restaurant is popular among La Jollan’s and visitors mostly due to its high-traffic location. This is an ideal place for large gatherings that won’t break the bank. They offer different menus for lunch and dinner. If you’re in the mood for tacos, go during lunch. The salsa is one of my personal favorites along with their potato tacos.

8. Jose’s Court Room
1037 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
joses la jolla1
Looking for a casual Mexican food spot with views of the Cove? Then this is the place for you. Jose’s has a fun beach vibe with seating indoors and outdoors. Wash down a burrito with a cold brew while enjoying the views of the Cove from the patio. Shirt optional.

7. Su Casa Mexican and Seafood Restaurant
6738 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
su casa la jolla
Su Casa is a popular family restaurant among La Jollans…well, according to a local newspaper’s “Best Of La Jolla” poll. This sit-down place is located along La Jolla Blvd and serves classic Mexican dishes along with seafood like crab enchiladas. An absolute must have is the table-side guacamole, which is uniquely made with orange, instead of lime juice and made freshly before your eyes.

6. Porkyland
1030 Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037
Porkyland-map2
Even though Porkyland started out in Barrio Logan, the La Jolla location (and only location now) has been a staple in the community for over 20 years. Porkyland, which started out making tortillas, is a small casual Mexican place serving up excellent burritos using their homemade flour tortillas (available for purchase by the dozen). The most popular item on the menu by far is their carnitas burrito. This a great place for a quick bite to eat with co-workers or after a surf sesh.

SEE ALSO: Friday Burrito Review: Porkyland.

5. Verdes El Ranchero
7404 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
verdes la jolla
“The Ranch” as locals call it has been an institution since 1945. This sit-down restaurant offers authentic and traditional Mexican dishes such as Chile Rellenos, Carnitas Michoacan, and Pozole. Stop by during happy hour from M-F 3-6pm and try one of their popular margaritas.

4. Bahia Don Bravo
5504 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
bahia don bravo
One of the most favorite casual spots in Bird Rock with a cool view of the ocean from their back patio. Don Bravo is currently riding on a high from a favorable review of their fish tacos from the Huffingtonpost.com. The fish tacos are truly delicious and at a great deal at just $1.99 for regular size and $.99 for mini fish tacos. If you’re not a fish taco aficionado there is plenty of other things to choose from their extensive menu. They can get quite busy especially during weekends so we recommend getting the chips and salsa or guac while you wait.

3. Puesto Mexican Food
1026 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
puesto la jolla
Puesto first came on the scene in La Jolla (now with second location at The Headquarters) advertising itself as fresh Mexican street food. Needless to say that they’ve succeeded in providing excellent Mexican food. A must try is their signature tacos made with a layer of crispy melted cheese topped with your favorite protein and fixings on a handmade tortilla. They also recently opened a sit-down full-service place located right next door to the original and more casual Puesto on Wall Street. The sit-down menu offers unique and different items than that of the causal location along with a full-service bar. Stop by for lunch or dinner or simply enjoy drinks and appetizers with friends. Due to it’s fresh ingredients these tacos will run you about $12 for three tacos but if you stop by during Taco Tuesdays they are only $2!

2. Don Carlos Taco Shop
737 Pearl St
La Jolla, CA 92037
don-carlos-taco-shop
Coming in at a very, very close second is a local favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican eatery, Don Carlos. This place is also riding on a high from being ranked as having one of the best burritos in San Diego. The burritos do truly live up to their reputation. We found that it was one of the most recommended things to get here. What else makes this place a local favorite? They offer excellent choices for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores. Have we mentioned that they serve Mexican Coke? Yes, the infamous glass bottled Coke imported from Mexico is served here.

SEE ALSO: ‘Friday Burrito Review’: Don Carlos Taco Shop.

1. The Taco Stand
621 Pearl St
La Jolla, CA 92037
the taco stand la jolla
And the best Mexican restaurant in La Jolla is, The Taco Stand! This relative newcomer is a fast growing favorite amongst locals. What sets them apart from all the rest? They offer al pastor the authentic way — on a vertical spit. They also make their own hand-made tortillas and offer a decent amount of authentic Mexican sides like corn on the cob with parm cheese, mayo and chili powder (just like in TJ!). And if you’re lucky, the churro machine might actually be on and you can enjoy dessert too!

Do you agree with this list? Which one is your favorite Mexican spot in La Jolla? Leave a comment below with your feedback.

[Images: Puesto (cover image), Google]

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Vanessa Turkeltaub
Vanessa Turkeltaub graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Communication. She has been with Blue Book Publishers for over 5 years, and has written over five-hundred La Jolla related articles. She enjoys going to concerts, art, and traveling. (vanessa@lajollabluebook.com)

6 thoughts on “The (Absolute) 10 Best Mexican Restaurants In La Jolla

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this list of the top ten restaurants in La Jolla! I have been wanting to visit California for a long time, and experience some delicious meals! I’ll definitely be sure to keep this list bookmarked so that I can refer to it whenever I need to. Right now I really want to try out a churro from the Taco Stand!

  2. El Ranchero is heads above the fast food joints that ranked at the top. Those other places don’t even sell margaritas and if you like paper plates and plastic forks, then suit yourself. Let’s rate real restaurants – then the Ranch is #1 by a landslide. Fresh ingredients, deep menu, excellent bar and the best service.

  3. El Charro Should be #1 on the worst restaurants in La Jolla. There food is really really bad, if you have ever eaten there you know.

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