Posts Tagged ‘Destination Taco’

February 27th, 2013 | By | 2,155 Comments

The Best Tacos in Laguna Beach SWELL's Guest Blogger Hits The Coast For a Culinary Quest to Find the Top Tacos

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This is Destination Taco: a town-to-town expedition of all things cradled in a tortilla and known as a taco. I begin in my hometown of Laguna Beach to find out who’s serving up the sexiest tacos and share the experience.  As SWELL’s guest blogger, I will be rating and awarding each experience accordingly on a scale of 1-5 Cleavers. Why cleavers, you ask? Because they look cool and anything close to a sombrero would be considered racist. So here we go – get excited.


Adolfo's - Laguna Beach

When I began planning this piece, there was no question in my mind about including Adolfo’s, it’s a true Laguna institution among locals. This family owned & operated restaurant has been serving up authentic Mexican meals for decades. I can’t tell you how many summer days of my youth started on the beach and ended here.

  • Choice of the Day: Carnitas, Carne Asada, and Shredded Beef
  •          – Best Choice: The fall-apart Carnitas is the most authentic and delicious in town.
  •          -Tortilla/Toppings: Classic and predictable So. Cal Mexican style.
  • Salsa Bar:  One of the best in Laguna with a wide range between pico and extra hot.
  • Perfect Pairing: 32oz of Carta Blanca – like a big boy.
  • Suggested Dress Code: No shoes, no shirt, no problem – boardshorts, bikinis, & graphic tees
  • Wait: < 3min – if you’re too impatient for that, you don’t belong here.
  • Taco Tuesday/Happy Hour: Nope, but the prices are some of the lowest in Laguna

Verdict: I don’t know what makes these tacos so amazing and at times comforting, but I keep coming back for more; whether I’m tired or hungry, hungover or sick, Adolfo’s has a way of making the day better. Asada - Laguna Beach

Asada is the new guy to the group with only being open for the past 18 months, but make no mistake, they’re cooking to stay for good. With a price point that sits at the top of my list, these tacos are masterfully planned and crafted to almost overlook the bill and indulge.

  • Choice of the Day: Beer-Battered Mahi, Short-Rib, Crispy Beef, and Chipotle Prawn.
  •          -Best Choice: The savory goodness of the smokey short-rib taco.
  •          -Tortilla/Toppings: Where I felt the tortillas fell flat, the fresh toppings bring their A-game.
  • Salsa Bar: No. Available upon request no extra charge.
  • Perfect Pairing: Frosty Victoria (on draft).
  • Suggested Dress Code: Step it up a notch. Collared shirts and dresses.
  • Wait: Varies – Dinner reservations recommended.
  • Taco Tuesday/Happy Hour: Taco Tuesday – $2 tacos/$3 beers & sangria.

Verdict: This is not another over-priced Mexican restaurant, pushing out obnoxious twists on simple classics. Where the presentation was a little lackluster, the depth of flavor is incredible – combine that with the beautiful design and impressive bar,  Asada adds another great option to the Laguna Beach taco scene. Las Brisas - Laguna Beach

Now I’ll admit that Las Brisas is not on my regular radar for getting my taco fix but it really is a classic Laguna Restaurant that has been shelling out tacos since before I was a twinkle in my Dad’s eye.

  • Choice of the Day: Baja Style Mahi Mahi, Blackened Halibut, and Shrimp
  •     -Best Choice: The Baja Style Mahi Mahi – One of the best in town.
  •     -Tortilla/Toppings: Not sure how to put this nicely – everything tastes way better than it looks.
  • Salsa Bar: Nope and the watered down salsa they provide lacks heat and flavor.
  • Perfect Pairing: Their classic Bloody Mary is a delicious distraction from the patio noise.
  • Suggested Dress Code:  Leave your Yankees hat at home and try a collared shirt or dress.
  • Wait: < 10min – Times vary with weather & seasons
  • Taco Tuesday/Happy Hour: Happy Hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm

Verdict:  The staff hustles very hard to make it work with the crowds and they do a great job.  Despite the tourist-trap prices, the incredible panorama views of Laguna and Pacific, the 1950s tile reminiscent of its glory days – Las Brisas earns 3 cleavers in my book.  If you’ve never been, go, be patient with the Disneyland-esque crowds, and enjoy.La Sirena - Laguna Beach

La Sirena has become a place that just feels like home to me. When you walk in you’ll notice real Laguna families enjoying what I consider the best Mexican food in town. They’ve created a culture known as “Mex-Eco” by focusing on locally sourced organic food and doing it in a way that’s not shoved down your throat.

  • Choice of the Day: Carne Asada, Fried Calamari, and Fish of the Day (Tilapia)
  •      -Best Choice: Calamari – try it.
  •      -Tortilla/Toppings: Fresh pillowy tortillas and stacked fresh toppings piled high.
  • Salsa Bar: Yes. Great Selection to dial in the heat or chow down on spicy pickled carrots.
  • Perfect Paring: House Margarita
  • Suggested Dress Code: Basic tees, boardshorts, bikinis, collared shirts, jeans – as long as you’re not naked.
  • Wait: < 5min. and worth every minute.
  • Taco Tuesday/Happy Hour: Nope. They’ll come around.

Verdict: With consistently awesome food and a recent remodel that bought the addition of an amazing craft beer selection, this place will never do you wrong. I urge you to find this place, hang out, watch an Angel’s game, and enjoy it all.

As I wrap up this project, I can’t help but think of the places I left off the list: Coyote Grille, Taco Loco, Papa’s Tacos, Laguna Feast, The Beach House, and the new girl Carmelita’s. So that in mind, use this as a starting point and explore Laguna, find out how awesome it is and let me know what town Destination Taco should hit up next. Eat well, drink up, & adios!


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