Discover the vibrant flavors of Tijuana and Baja California without the need to cross the border. Taco Machin is a hidden gem of a taqueria located in Bonita, CA and re-creates the essence of Tijuana-style tacos on your plate. Join us on an enticing journey as we explore the diverse and flavorful offerings of Taco Machin
When a visitor in a San Diego foodies Facebook group recently asked about the best Tijuana style tacos in the city, opinions varied. Some recommended exploring across the border. I couldn’t help but add my 2 pesos. I humorously compared the idea of visiting San Diego for Tijuana style tacos to visiting France on its border with Italy for spaghetti. One passionate commenter, who happened to live in Tijuana, claimed that San Diego tacos surpassed those in TJ. In my mind, not only was it a proposterous statement, it bordered on blasphemy.
I burst into laughter and got up from the floor before dismissing his statement. My friend, chef and taquero José Figueroa, who’s operated restaurants and taquerias in both Tijuana and San Diego, informed me that Tijuana has more than 19,000 eating establishments. The majority comprised of street food vendors and taquerias. I concluded, “While San Diego has some great tacos, it’s hard to match the abundance, variety, and quality of tacos in Tijuana.”
A recent visit to Taco Machin in Bonita, CA, however, almost made me eat my words in addition to six delectable tacos. This taqueria – which opened in 2022 – truly rivals those in Tijuana in both flavor and authenticity.
Tijuana Style Tacos in San Diego
Taco Machin pays homage to the classic street food of Tijuana and Baja California. During our visit, we had the pleasure of speaking with owner Luis Peña, who currently resides in Tijuana. He explained, “Our tacos and antojitos are crafted with great care to ensure they capture the authentic flavors found just across the border. We wanted to bring a taste of Tijuana and Baja to San Diego.”
The menu at Taco Machin features an array of mouthwatering options. From traditional favorites like carne asada, adobada, tripa, and lengua to the rich and flavorful birria de res served with a side of consomé for dipping. The choices are truly tantalizing. The birria is a standout, best enjoyed on its own or paired with a stack of Taco Machin’s supple, house-made corn tortillas.
Each taco at Taco Machin is a masterpiece. The crispy fried tripas (fried small intestine) taco is adorned with onion, cilantro, and a lively house-made salsa verde. The adobada taco is shaved from their trompo (spit) and served with a tantalizing guacasalsa of avocado and crema. You’ll find these delicious fillings available in various formats, including tostadas, quesadillas, mulitas, vampiros, and burritos. With prices ranging from $3.75 for a nopal taco to $8.95 for a lengua burrito, Taco Machin offers an affordable indulgence.
Taco Machin Specialty Tacos
Taco Machin’s “Los de la Casa” menu presents signature creations that will satisfy any taco lover. The Taco Machin itself is a Sonoran-style taco perron filled with succulent grilled carne asada, frijoles de olla, queso, and guacamole. It’s wrapped in a flour tortilla reminiscent of the famous Tacos el Yaqui in Rosarito Beach. For a unique twist, try the Mexiterranean taco, featuring adobada on a flour tortilla topped with tzatziki and pickled onions. Additionally, options like cajete (beef cheek), costilla (beef short rib), and portobello mushroom tacos showcase Taco Machin’s creativity. Prices for these delights range from $3.95 to $8.95.
True to their Tijuana influence, Taco Machin also offers the Torta Machin—a delectable sandwich served on a hearty, bakery soft toasted telera bun. Loaded with grilled steak and dressed with mayo, guacamole, pickled tomatoes, red onions, and salsa, this homage to Tortas Washmobile in Tijuana is priced at $11.95.
To complement your meal, Taco Machin serves refreshing house-made aguas frescas, Mexican sodas, beers, and micheladas. And make sure to save room for dessert. Their pan de elote, expertly crafted by Peña’s wife, chef Margu Plascencia, is a must-try. These dense, sweet corn cakes are kissed by mesquite on the grill and drizzled with a sinful caramel sauce.
As we concluded our visit, Peña informed us that he’s looking to open a second location and inquired about our favorite TJ-style tacos in San Diego. After thoughtful reflection, we shared one of our long-standing favorites, Tacos el Gallo in El Cajon, and genuinely added Taco Machin to that short, yet esteemed list.
Taco Machin brings the flavors and spirit of Tijuana to San Diego, offering a delightful array of Tijuana-style tacos and antojitos. With their dedication to authenticity, Taco Machin is a must-visit destination. Indulge in the diverse menu, savor the vibrant flavors, and experience the true essence of Tijuana. Right here in San Diego.
Taco Machin is located at 4228 Bonita Road, Bonita, CA, 91902. www.tacomachin.com, (619) 765-2484. Hours: Sun-Thu: 11am-9pm, Fri-Sat: 11am -10pm.
Disclaimer: Our tacos and drinks were generously provided compliments of the house during our visit. We will gladly and hungrily return on our own dime as we still need to try a vampiro and the Torta Machin. No compensation was received for writing this article and our opinions remain steadfastly our own.