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Photo: Matt Furman

Knocks In The Know

November 16, 2021

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There’s a reason San Diego has earned the nickname “America’s Finest City.” This west coast paradise has some of the best there is to offer—from pristine beaches and perfect weather to diverse culture and incredible food, San Diego is top-notch in a multitude of categories. When it comes to certain things, there’s no arguing that SD is the winner—that includes tacos, cocktails, surf shops, and more. We’ve rounded up the cream of the crop around Pacific Beach/Mission Beach and the greater SD area, so you can start exploring some of the finest in the Finest City.

Tacos

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • La Playa Taco Shop — Like many of the best taco shops across the globe, La Playa Taco Shop is small, unassuming, and out-of-control delicious. This festive authentic taqueria serves some of the tastiest fish tacos, carne asada, and carnitas you’ll ever have. Address: 3973 Mission Blvd.
  • Harry's Taco Club — Known as one of PB’s go-to taco joints, Harry’s Taco Club has tacos (and other Mexican dishes) that will knock your socks off. Try one of their grilled octopus tacos, shrimp and steak taco, or scallop taco—they could change your life. Address: 4612 Cass St.

Greater SD

  • Tacos El Gordo — No-nonsense, order-at-the-counter, drool-worthy Mexican food is what you’ll find at Tacos El Gordo. Head south to this well-known taco shop where they’re well-known for Tijuana-style tacos. Staples include adobada, suadero, lengua, chorizo, and other authentic ingredients. Address: 556 Broadway, Chula Vista.
  • Las Cuatro Milpas — When you want an old-school taco joint with a fantastic reputation, look no further than Las Cuatro Milpas. Their handmade tortillas are insanely delicious, they’ve been open since 1933, and they’ve even earned a Michelin star, so you know it’s no joke. Address: 1875 Logan Ave.

Burritos

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • Harry’s Taco Club — For one of the best burritos in San Diego, we’re headed back to Harry’s Taco Club. The Cali Burrito loaded with steak, fries, cheese, sour cream, and guac is the stuff dreams are made of—trust us. Address: 4612 Cass St.
  • Cotija's — This longtime Mexican restaurant has been serving the SD area some of the yummiest burritos for over 50 years. The burrito that has become one of the city’s best is their Hash Brown Breakfast Burrito. Make sure to come hungry, though, because this thing is massive. Address: 1092 Garnet Ave.

Greater SD

  • The Taco Stand — Although it’s called The Taco Stand (and the tacos are next-level), the burritos that are being whipped up here are legit. They’re simple in their ingredients but the flavors are anything but—try the Al Pastor, Mahi Mahi, or the Shrimp Burrito. You won’t regret it. Address: North Park - 3000 Upas St. Suite 105, La Jolla - 621 Pearl St.

Burgers

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • Kono’s Cafe — Expect a line at this local-favorite spot where the Kono Burger is king. It’s basic in the fact that it’s just seven ounces of beef, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and ketchup, but the flavors are complex. Not to mention, you can’t beat the price. Address: 704 Garnet Ave.

Greater SD

  • Crazee Burger — Definitely not your standard burger here at Crazee Burger. Expect gourmet, creative concoctions with options like kangaroo, antelope, and alligator meat. They have over 30 burgers to choose from and they’re all crave-worthy. Address: 3993 30th St.
  • Rocky’s Crown Pub — Cash-only, adults-only, and known for the Best Burger in San Diego. Sounds pretty heavenly, right? Their made-to-order hamburgers and cheeseburgers are the only items on the menu, which means they’ve perfected their craft. Address: 3786 Ingraham St.

Cocktails

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • The Grass Skirt — This laid-back tiki bar is serving up exotic cocktails that will transport you to the islands. Some favorite cocktails include familiar drinks like Tropical Tony’s Mai Tai, and some housemade creations like the La Flaminga with tequila, guava aperitif, and habanero. Address: 910 Grand Ave.

Greater SD

  • Polite Provisions — Set in an apothecary-esque vibe, Polite Provisions has some of San Diego’s most whimsical and creative cocktails. Try a Chelsea Hook with cognac, peach, and orgeat, or opt for a draft cocktail like the Casual Encounter with London dry gin, berries, and rose petal soda. Address: 4696 30th St. 
  • Shake & Muddle — With a name like Shake & Muddle, it’s obvious they know a thing or two about amazing cocktails. The extensive menu features options like an S&M Mojito, Chai White Russian, and The Mezcaloma. Address: 303 H St. Unit 109.

Beer / Breweries

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • Amplified Ale Works Kitchen + Beer Garden — A super chill brewpub with ocean views and an impressive beer selection is what Amplified Ale Works is known for. Sit down and enjoy a cold brew in the sunshine in the outdoor, dog-friendly beer garden. The tap list is always changing but you’ll never be disappointed. Address: 4150 Mission Blvd. #208.

Greater SD

  • Hopnonymous Brewing Company — Ever since they opened their doors in 2018, Hopnonymous Brewing Company quickly became a San Diego favorite. The taproom usually has nearly two dozen beers on tap like their What You Need West Coast IPA, Bringin’ Blondie Back Blonde Ale, and the Patissier Stout. Address: 7705 Convoy Ct.
  • Pure Project Balboa Park — This upscale taproom has over 20 taps for you to choose from as well as a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio with views of the San Diego Bay. The tap list is unique and features brews like the Into the Earth Porter, Rain Unfiltered Pilsner, and Emmeline Farmhouse Saison. Address: 2865 5th Ave.
  • Modern Times — Modern Times is an employee-owned brewery that has made a name for itself, not only in San Diego but across the country as well. Year-round staples include the Black House Stout, Fortunate Islands Pale Ale, and the Orderville Hazy IPA. With multiple locations, you’ll always have an excuse to visit. Address: Point Loma – 3725 Greenwood St., North Park – 3000 Upas St.

Surf Shops

PB / Mission Beach / Bay Area

  • PB Surf Shop – By far one of the most popular surf shops in San Diego is PB Surf Shop. They’ve been open since 1962 and are one of the oldest surf shops in the city. Located right on the boardwalk, they’re your one-stop shop for all things surf. Address: On the boardwalk, 4208 Oliver Ct.

Greater SD

  • Mitch’s Surf Shop – La Jolla’s go-to surf shop is Mitch’s Surf Shop—open since 1967. Located near the world-famous Windansea surf break, they specialize in a full range of surfboards, including their own innovative hand-shaped boards. Address: 631 Pearl St.
  • Bird’s Surf Shed – Dedicating over 50 years to the world of surfing, Bird’s Surf Shed (this location open since 2011) is an off-beat store that is all about the surfer. Offering new and used inventory, the “shed” has become one of the area’s meccas when it comes to surfboards. Address: 1091 W. Morena Blvd.

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