The Taco Stand in La Jolla, the first of the San Diego chain’s popular eateries, has made it onto TripAdvisor’s top 10 list of highly rated fast casual restaurants in the U.S.
While there are three other Taco Stands in San Diego County — downtown San Diego, Encinitas and North Park — it is the La Jolla venue that received a No. 4 ranking in the travel site’s annual Traveler’s Choice Awards. In all, 75 U.S. restaurants were recognized in the categories of fine dining, everyday dining and fast casual. Figuring into the awards were the quantity and quality of user reviews, which were gathered over a 12-month period.
Wrote one reviewer of The Taco Stand: “We ate here 3 times in 6 days it was that good.”
The Taco Stand, which first opened in La Jolla in 2013, ranked just behind In-N-Out Burger in Los Angeles and Shake Shack in Miami. Ranking No. 1 was The Earl of Sandwich in New Orleans.
Co-owner Julian Hakim of Showa Hospitality said he was thrilled to learn of the honor but wasn’t sure why the La Jolla location was singled out over all others.
“Maybe it’s the charm of it being the original,” he said. “From day one, it was beloved by the locals and the tourists, and that never changed.”
Hakim said the taco restaurants were inspired by the food he experienced growing up in Tijuana where he lived until he was 18. He credits the TripAdvisor ranking to the restaurants’ meticulous focus on details, including the traditional preparation of the al pastor meat on the “trompo,” or rotating spit.
“It’s the cut of the meat, the handmade tortillas, and as we’ve grown we’ve tried very hard to not change that attention to detail,” Hakim said.
In addition to the four Taco Stands in San Diego County, Showa opened a Miami location last year and one in Orange this year. By the end of this year or early 2020, a seventh Taco Stand will open in Las Vegas.