The back-to-back arrivals of Tacos Perla and City Tacos in 2014 made North Park a destination for eaters craving flavor combinations above and beyond typical taqueria fare. Since then, our impression of tacos - namely, the magic they're capable of - has evolved. Standards and expectations are high for newcomers, like Amorcito Corazon Bistro, which debuted last month in the former Veg-n-Out location next door to Lefty's.
First things first: Portion sizes are big here. Whatever you do, don't order three tacos like I did, expecting the ubiquitous, five-bite TJ street version. Here, they're $3.50 each and made with not one, but two full-sized corn tortillas. An abundance of sour cream - too much at times - comes standard on several items whereas most places would charge extra for the costly white stuff. And then, there's the strange, though welcome bargain in a generous side of guacamole for $3.50, the same price as a bulky, hangover-cure-in-one taco.
Carne asada fries - almost as beloved a dish to San Diegans as the Cali burrito - fall short at Amorcito.
Naming yourself a bistro is one thing; actually hand cutting your own potatoes takes some work. For the $9.99, seasoned curly fries should be swapped for fresh Kennebec potatoes, the bistro/pub standard in San Diego for that price point. With Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop (whose potato-game is strong) slated to open in North Park any time now, Amorcito should step up their starch department. For now, Amorcito is the only one out of three new wave taco shops in North Park serving the infamous loaded fries.
The salads do live up to the restaurant's moniker, and are a welcome addition to the fast-casual scene picking up on 30th Street; options include kale and romaine caesar and baby arugula with feta and walnuts, to which you can include chicken or beef for a deal at $1.99 and fish or shrimp for $2.99.
From the tacos de la casa portion of the menu, tender chile verde reigned supreme, along with the grilled fish taco. Skip the chile relleno, overflowing with rice, beans, cheese and sour cream. There's also a burrito portion of the menu, which I did not try after experiencing tacos the size of small burritos, in my opinion.
Let's hope this is just the start of North Park's burgeoning taco scene. The more options, the better, right?
More news in neighborhood eats
South Park Brewing Company: Besides the obvious elation from getting a new brewery in the 'hood, South Park (and neighboring Golden Hill) residents are stoked to have a seafood option in their otherwise pizza-pasta-sandwich heavy area. Up until a couple weeks ago, there was no place within miles where you can build-your-own fresh seafood (Catalina Offshore Products) sandwiches and salads; for $8.99, the blackened yellowtail is the jam here, with zestily seasoned, juicy meat atop lightly dressed greens. Fried food is aplenty as well, should you want to satisfy your fish 'n' chips craving, though there's room for improvement with the flat tartar sauce, which lacked in acid something fierce. Pro tip: If you, like me, eating your meal free of rug rats, then you might want to order takeout from this family friendly joint. Open till 10 p.m.
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who has written about food in San Diego since 2006. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite. Send your mouth-watering ideas to her at email@example.com.