A couple of weeks ago I posted a query asking for a good taqueria in the Carlsbad/Encinitas area of North San Diego County. Two hounds replied and recommended Juanita's, on North Coast Highway near the Leucadia/Encinitas border. Went with Dad and his wife before the races at Del Mar this past Thursday and liked it a lot.
As we drove down the Coast road searching for it, we passed at least a couple of other Mexican places. When we finally found Juanita's, we appreciated the small parking lot in back and found a line going out the door, though it wasn't quite noon. Good sign. And it moved pretty quickly. Ordered three tacos -- fish (which was recommended by the hounds), carnitas (featured on their signs), and al pastor, my favorite. Also a cheese quesadilla, a large and medium drink -- bill came to about $11. There are a few tables in the room where you enter, order and pick up, and another eight or so in the adjoining room where we sat. Service was friendly and the quacamole sauce and hot sauce were served on the side as requested.
The highlight to me was the al pastor. A very large taco, served on a single corn tortilla rather than the double I'm used to, but about eight inches in diameter and stuffed with a generous serving of nicely seasoned, tender, flavorful pork. (Tacos $1.95) Salso roja, served from squeeze bottles, was tasty but not too hot. The carnitas was similarly sized, but unfortunately much of the meat was a bit dry. I found that if I removed the overcooked dry edge from the bigger chunks and shredded the rest, it was also tasty, especially with a squeeze of lime. I was not impressed with the fish taco, which seemed like a thin deepfried single fishstick -- too much like school cafeteria food.
I would definitely go again. The place had a very friendly vibe and a very disparate clientele. I'd like to try the carne asada, and to my surprise a lot of people seemed to order the crispy tacos, served with a heap of shredded lettuce. (Someone said that's what comes in the combo, whatever that is.) I would definitely like some more of that al pastor in a burrito to take home.
Thanks for the rec! Another success story for the board.