Mexican food stand sets ground in La Jolla

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Puesto’s organic options satisfy meat and veggie lovers. / Katie Foster, Staff Photographer

by Ana Ceballos

Puesto’s organic options satisfy meat and veggie lovers. / Katie Foster, Staff Photographer
Puesto’s organic options satisfy meat and veggie lovers. / Katie Foster, Staff Photographer

It’s that time of the day again. Stomachs are growling and demanding to be fed. While most taste buds may ask for the plain bean and cheese burrito with chips and salsa on the side, today is the day to taste something new.

Puesto, which translates to “stand” in Spanish, recently opened in La Jolla on the corner of Wall Street and Girard Avenue. Although a bit of a drive is required to this bean-and-cheese alternative, the effort will be well compensated with delicious “street food” in a clean and modern space.

Contemporary Mexican architecture seduces customers inside the restaurant, where they will find small circular chairs surrounding rectangular white tables and a couple of cozy booths in the corners. The allure of this so-called stand is that it entices customers to walk toward the front of the restaurant where an employee will take orders and introduce the “taco-ordering journey.”

Puesto’s specialty is tacos with a choice of fillers, including steak, chicken, fish, shrimp, grilled salmon, or vegetarian options, which include potatoes and chiles, potatoes and soy chorizo, corn truffle or zucchini flower. Carnivores and vegetarians can eat in harmony at Puesto.

As soon as the order is taken, the creative process begins. Because customers are able to fully view the kitchen’s clean appearance, with its refrigerator displaying fresh vegetables and sparkly metal utensils, they can observe Puesto’s chefs preparing the dishes. By displaying luscious food options next to its grills where the restaurant’s staff also prepares homemade, stone-ground corn tortillas and exhibits a variety of salsas, toppings and condiments, customers can be easily bewitched.

“The first time I came here it was a bit overwhelming, so I had one of the guys put the toppings that he recommended for me,” frequent customer Robert Lara said. “There were like eight different salsas.”

The process requires customer and chef to work together. When the customer states what he or she wants, the chef will make it happen by incorporating all feasible requests into the dish. This may sound like a simple give-and-take procedure, but with so many options, the brain is invaded by choices that can be difficult to make on an empty stomach.

Puesto’s speed of service is quick and outstanding. However, once the procedure is complete, only one obstacle before consumption remains: payment.

Two tacos cost $6.45, while three cost $8.95. These prices may not be remarkably inexpensive, but they are worth the quality. Taking into consideration all of Puesto’s fruits and vegetables are fresh and organic, this luxurious La Jolla eatery could become a monthly visit.

Puesto’s atmosphere may be casual, but its design is elegant. To some it may be difficult to find an occasion to visit such a unique restaurant. It is too casual for an anniversary and perhaps too much for a quick lunch break. But once customers have had a taste of Puesto’s flavorful food, appetite will outweigh occasion.

The restaurant’s doors have only been open since earlier this year, but it looks like this stand is settling down comfortably on its La Jolla corner.

“I came again tonight,” Lara said. “And it was even better than the first time. I will be back again.”