La Jolla, CA: Say Puesto for Upscale Mexican Street Food in La Jolla

By Marti Gacioch |

When brothers Alan and Eric Adler first tasted Chef Luis Gonzalez’ tacos, they loved them so much that they wanted to open a restaurant. “We’d tasted his cooking at catered parties in San Diego and Los Angeles, and teamed up with our cousin Isi Lombrozo to open Puesto in February (2012),” Eric Adler said. “We wanted to offer La Jolla an upscale Mexican restaurant serving his street food.”

The brothers share a Mexican-American cultural background and grew up around taste treats similar to Gonzalez’ cuisine. “We’d never seen anyone cook such amazing Mexican food,” Adler said. “We also love Mexican architecture and design and wanted to open a modern Mexican restaurant.”

Open and bright with two colorful murals by graffiti artist Chor Boogie, Puesto offers a casual family friendly atmosphere. Its simple menu centers on tacos made from all-natural meats, including grass-fed beef, fresh chicken, sustainable seafood and seasonal organic local fruits and vegetables. Everything is made from scratch daily, including the salsas, stone-ground tortillas and freshly prepared fruits and vegetables.

Chicken al Pastor tops Puesto’s popular menu items. Freshly diced chicken cooked in an al pastor sauce, it comes wrapped in crispy cheese and topped with linga (hibiscus, chipotle) and pineapple. Puesto’s zucchini flower and cactus in crispy melted cheese is a vegetarian favorite. For the holidays, Puesto is featuring shrimp ceviche.

“We also have a lot of salads, including our grilled salmon salad, and people can have hot meats and vegetables in their tacos or in a salad or a bowl,” Adler said. “People love our tacos with crispy melted cheese; we put the meats or vegetables inside the cheese and let it get crispy before putting that on a tortilla.” Mexican side dishes include black beans, white jasmine or brown rice and sweet Mexican corn.

Dessert treats include frozen horchata (milkshakes) and fruit cups packed with juicy fresh mango, watermelon, jicama, cucumber and carrots splashed with fresh lime juice, chili and salt.

Later this month, Puesto’s food truck will start visiting Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff and Encinitas, as well as downtown San Diego and North Park.

Puesto offers Negro Modelo and Pacifico Mexican beers on tap, as well as local craft beers, such as Ballast Point, Stone and Karl Strauss.

“Puesto is an upscale high-quality, but casual place to have a quick bite to eat,” Adler said.

— Puesto, at 1026 Wall St., is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday. (858) 454- 1260.