I have long been a bit of a taco shop connoisseur. Located next to the Mexican border, San Diego is naturally home to an proliferation of taco shops. This extreme concentration of greasy South of the border goodness is not seen in other places in the country. A few years ago, when I first arrived at school in Saint Louis, I was amazed not only at the dearth of Mexican eateries, but that nearly all of my classmates (whom hail not just from the Mid-West, but from all over the country), were under the impression that Taco Bell constituted a quality taco shop. These same classmates could be seen salivating over the thought of a Chipotle burrito-something that while solid, is nothing to get excited about in San Diego.
Back in San Diego, I find myself having a more sophisticated debate. Rather than arguing the virtues (or lack thereof) of Taco Bell, heated discussion regarding the best local taco shop is routine. Low-blows such as claiming the sightings of mold in a california burrito and eucalyptus leaves in the tacos at rival establishments are commonplace and only add heat to the fiery discourse that arises when taco shops are mentioned.
About 10 months ago, I stumbled upon the “Burrito Bracket,” where Nate Silver (of Baseball Prospectus and 538 fame), created a bracket style single-elimination tournament designed to establish the best taco shop near his dwelling in Chicago. While I am sure Chicago has adequate taco shops-after all, it is a large city with a demographically diverse population-I have always felt that someone in San Diego should partake in a similar venture. Because I will be studying in London this year, and for some reason the Brits don’t start classes until October, I have suddenly found myself with the extra time required to engage in such a task.
In the next month, I plan to pit 16 highly regarded San Diego taco shops against one another to firmly establish, at least in one man’s mind, the best taco shop in the county.