A local home cook took home the crown for this year’s Next Top Taco Showdown.
The competition, held on April 27, is Puesto at The Headquarters’ annual affair. Once a year, the Mexican restaurant near Seaport Village — which also has a La Jolla location — invites the public to submit their original recipes for consideration to be Puesto’s Taco of the Month.
Cinthia Vega, who lives in Mission Hills, beat out the other two finalists and won the 2019 honor with her Chicken Tinga Taco. In addition to walking away with a $1,000 cash prize, her taco will grace Puesto’s menu through June 30.
Puesto is a family-owned business run by first-generation Mexican Americans influenced by their immersion in Mexican cooking since childhood, according to the restaurant’s website. And it turns out Vega also has Mexican roots.
Her family is originally from Guadalajara and she grew up eating Hispanic dishes in lieu of American food, a tradition Vega carried into her adult life.
One of Vega’s favorite meals her mother made during her childhood was Tinga — a dish from Puebla, Mexico that is comprised of shredded chicken soaked in a sauce of tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo, and onions. When she heard about the Next Top Taco Showdown, Vega decided to turn the plate into a taco and enter it into the competition.
“I’m very grateful Puesto gave me the opportunity to share a family recipe with the community,” Vega said.
“My inspiration was my mom and this Sunday (June 9) I get to surprise her by taking her to Puesto at the Headquarters and handing her the menu with my taco on it!”
Puesto patrons who order the winning taco can expect a mouthful of chipotle braised chicken, guacamole, red onion, cilantro and Cotija cheese. Vega’s Chicken Tinga Taco is available to customers until the end of the month at both Puesto’s locations in downtown and La Jolla.
Puesto At The Headquarters, 789 W. Harbor Dr., Ste 155, downtown, 619.233.8880, eatpuesto.com
Puesto La Jolla, 1026 Wall St., La Jolla, 858.454.1260, eatpuesto.com