San Diego's proximity to Mexico makes it privy to inside information, like the fact that Cinco de Mayo isn't really Mexican Independence Day. But that shouldn't stop you from acting like it is, and to make sure you do so in the most epic way possible, consult this list of the top guac, margs, and even waitresses to enjoy around the city.
1. Barra Barra Saloon4016 Wallace St, San Diego
2. The Lion's Share629 Kettner Blvd, San Diego
3. Fidel's Little Mexico607 Valley Ave, Solana Beach
4. The Blind Burro639 J St, San Diego
5. En Fuego Cantina1342 Camino Del Mar, San Diego
6. Baja Betty's1421 University Ave, San Diego
7. La Puerta560 4th Ave, San Diego
8. Cantina Mayahuel2934 Adams Ave, San Diego
Located in the old-timey old-Mexican... uh, old-heart(?) of Old Town, Barra Barra Saloon is a stuccoed watering hole slinging five-dollar margs and Latin favorites. This places takes its tequila selections seriously, and features a new one every month, like Corzo silver.
Don't let the taxidermy, mismatched chandeliers, and surrealist paintings distract you from the food and drink at The Lion's Share (easier said than done, we know). This quirky, hunter's den of a restaurant satisfies your carnivorous side with a game-heavy menu of wild boar bolognese, chicken fried quail, elk loin steak, and bison tartare. You don't have to be a totally adventurous eater though to take part in the fun: the menu includes tamer plates like an aged white Cheddar-topped burger, hand-cut truffle fries, and roast chicken. Both the expected and unexpected offerings pair well with whiskey cocktails and if you can handle it, absinthe.
Open since the '60s, Fidel's has evolved from a barbershop-cum-taqueria (why don't more of these exist?) to a fully-fledged, three-story Mexican cantina that features a beautiful outdoor patio, a courtyard, and a taco bar. They offer up happy hour four days a week, and, luckily, their perfect salsa is available every day.
The crew at The Blind Burro treats diners to South-of-the-Border street food, including a grilled flour tortilla topped with cheese, tomatoes, and guac (it's like a Mexican pizza!). The space accommodates plenty of red-upholstered chairs and tables, and potted succulents that reference this restaurant's extensive tequila selection.
Come to En Fuego for taco Tuesday (a weekly holiday in California) and stay for margaritas on the patio.
With more than 100 tequilas on their shelves, a tempting customizable-nachos mini-menu (with nearly 20 toppings to choose from), and the self-proclaimed best margarita north of the border, what else can you ask of Betty's? Oh, well, every Tuesday they have various $2 specials, from tostadas and stubbies to shots and bean dip. Looks like that paper with Jefferson's face on it is more than just a collectors' item.
Street food-style tacos might be the meal du jour in San Diego, but this sleek place on Fourth Avenue also delivers heartier family recipes in quesadillas, sopas, and specialty burritos, like "The California" made with Arranchera Steak, French fries, and grilled onion. La Puerta offers more than 100 tequilas, plus mezcals, raicillas, sotols, and bacanoras. Just ask the bar staff for guidance -- they'll be happy to school you.
If you're curious about agave, Cantina Mayahuel has you covered. The staff here will make you a margarita if that's what you really want, but these guys are purists who drink their tequila straight. Behind the bar, there’s an ever-changing collection of over 200 tequilas and 100 mezcals, including the bar's very own brand, Don Lorenzo Reposado Reserva.