Tasty Tuesday: An array of meat beckons at Tacos El Gordo

by Liliana Cervantes, Staff Writer

Locals haven’t fully experienced authentic Tijuana-style Mexican cuisine in San Diego until they have been to Tacos El Gordo at either of its two locations on H Street in Chula Vista or Palm Avenue in Imperial Beach. Tacos El Gordo stands out with its bold menu, quick and committed service, authentic dining experience and, of course, its phenomenal array of tacos.

A neighborhood favorite in both locations, Tacos El Gordo serves meat that’s savory, tender and rich in juices. It’s a quality taste that sets the bar high for taco shop cuisine.

The restaurant offers quite a few meats to choose from. Carna asada steak and the adobada spicy marinated pork are classic meats frequently found in California. Served complete with onion, cilantro and the signature guacamole cream sauce, El Gordo’s tacos are nothing short of excellent.

A couple other tacos include the tacos de lengua (cow tongue), tacos de cabeza (muscles of cows head), tacos de sesos (cow’s brain) and tacos de tripas (small intestines), among a few others. At first glance, these selections can seem unconventional to some, but they’re all actually fairly common traditional Mexican dishes.

Served with onion, cilantro and a signature salsa verde, the tacos de lengua is soft, tender and packed with flavor. Never be afraid to try anything at least once — a good motto to apply when ordering at Tacos El Gordo.

Don’t forget to order the tacos with pineapple for a thrilling burst of flavor, as well.

Customers can expect a busy, loud atmosphere inside. Both locations are almost always full with lingering lines at any time of day. The restaurant operates in its own ordering system in which customers order at one of the various stations separated by the different types of meats available. After placing an order, patrons wait until their food is ready and then pay at the cashier.

Newcomers at Tacos El Gordo should read the signs for each station to know exactly which line to enter. It can be a bit confusing at first, but it becomes no problem at all after getting acquainted. In fact, the different stations help speed the process.

The kitchen is in open view to customers. Customers can see the meat carved and prepared in front of their eyes once they order, which adds to the authentic Tijuana-style dining experience.

Tacos aren’t the only delicious and loved items on the menu. Lovers of carna asada fries, which is basically San Diego’s citywide favorite food, should try the adobada fries or campechana fries. The campechana fries combine both carna asada and adobada meats, cheese and the guacamole cream sauce. The specialty fries dishes can only be found at the Palm Avenue location in Imperial Beach.

Tacos El Gordo stays open until 4 a.m. on weekends and until 2 a.m during the week,