By Henry Lewis | WDSD Reporter
Tacquerias are everywhere in San Diego -- so if you're going to open a successful taco shop here, it would be wise to stand out from the crowd. Puesto Mexican Street Food in downtown La Jolla does just that by offering upscale casual-fare with a twist. Native La Jollan brothers Eric and Alan Adler opened Puesto in February, and judging from the crowd, they're fitting right in at their quaint spot on Wall Street.
The eatery is chicly designed with brick façade, vaulted ceilings, and garage door windows. Inside, there is more exposed brick, hanging yellow light fixtures, and several seating options, including a very cool circular booth. All the ingredients are displayed at the counter, with the fresh produce colorfully exhibited behind glass refrigerator doors. When choosing ingredients, diners can customize their order as it is quickly constructed in front of them.
At first blush, Puesto's menu seems relatively simple, until customers are faced with the many ingredient options – then, ordering gets a bit more complicated. Essentially, there are three main choices on the menu – tacos (two for $6.45 or three for $8.95), guisado bowls (think rice bowls) ($8.95), and salad bowls ($6.95 + $2.95 for meat and veggies). They offer a limited number preset combinations for indecisive diners like me.
Puesto offers "guisados" which Merriam-Webster translates as stew -- but I translate as the hearty part of the order. The standard meat offerings are carne asada, chicken al pastor, fish al pastor, shrimp, and for an added price diners can choose salmon. A pork option will soon be added. For grilled veggies, things get interesting with the choices of potatoes and chilies, potatoes and soy chorizo, corn truffle, zucchini flower, and cactus. After choosing your guisados, head to the impressive offering of toppings, sides, and salsas.
I went with three tacos and followed the recommended combinations with a few alterations. I chose the pollo al pastor with pineapple, fresh ga rlic, cheese and tinga (a mixture of hibiscus, chipotle and onion), the carne with cactus, jalapenos and garlic, topped with guac and pistache salsa (pistachio and jalapeno), and lastly, the huitlacoche (corn truffle) and zucchini flower.
The tacos all came with a shredded cheese option, which comes panned fried, topped with your guisados, rolled up, and placed on a fresh made corn tortilla. The tacos were delicious and full of flavor yet a bit small for my appetite, and I wish they had a flour tortilla option. Be sure and try the unusual but very tasty pistachio salsa.
In addition to more combinations of ingredients than you could imagine, Puesto offers a boatload of choices to wash down your meal. The fountain soda bar has many interesting options including cactus and prickly pear soda. Puesto also offers house made hibiscus tea, and choices of wine and beer (including drafts that travel through frozen pipes). For an icy treat, try the horchata, which was a first for me, and therefore, the best I've ever had. No, it really was.
Puesto is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
PUESTO MEXICAN STREET FOOD
1026 Wall St., La Jolla
Everyday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Cinco De May Special: On May 5th and 6th Puesto will offer guests a fixed special of 3 tacos plus a beer for $10.