Features Restaurants

Surf culture meets Mexican food

Sometimes the best food is presented in the simplest manner. At Taco Surf, meals are served on Styrofoam plates and bowls, plastic forks and knives are divided in a tray, and if you ask for water, the cashier will point to a large orange jug by the entrance, with Styrofoam cups face down beside it. OK, so it’s not very eco-friendly, but such is the case with affordable surf and turf.

This taquería has become a tradition in my family — it’s also tradition for us to continue to mistakenly call it “Surf Taco,” even after all these years. With sand in our hair and skin still warm from hours in the sun, we always make sure to stop there after a day in Pacific Beach.

Surfers, beach-goers and anyone who enjoys reasonably priced and delicious Mexican food frequent Taco Surf. Located at 4657 Mission Blvd., this quick fix of authentic Mexican food serves nothing over $10. Taco Surf heavily implements surf culture into the restaurant, with the owner’s many colorful surfboards covering the ceiling and multiple autographed pictures hanging on the walls of surfers who have had the good fortune to devour one of the carne asada-packed burritos or crispy rolled tacos smothered with guacamole.

This family-owned business has established itself well in the area. Sam and Cindy McLarty founded it in 1989. When you come into the shop, chances are you will see one of them behind the counter. In fact, Cindy was at the cash register and happily took my order last weekend. I got one of my favorite menu items, ceviche and chips ($4.25).

The ceviche is made of pollack, lemon juice, jalapeños, cilantro, tomato, onions and spices,served in a to-go bowl sealed with a lid. Almost as soon as the order was placed, an orange tray containing a healthy serving of crispy golden tortilla chips, salsa (really spicy!) and ceviche emerged. And of course it didn’t disappoint. The ceviche was fresh, a perfect companion to the crunchy chips. Though the service is quick, there’s always a line of customers, whether it’s early or late afternoon. This trip was no exception — it’s a popular lunch spot.

The menu is quite extensive — others at my table ordered beef rolled tacos, a large platter of carne asada chips ($7.25) and fish tacos ($2.75). If you go to Taco Surf on Tuesday or Thursday, you can grab certain tacos for $2.00.

Taco Surf is arguably most known for its burritos. It is $3.25 for the standard bean and cheese burrito (but really, it’s never standard — Taco Surf raises the bar on all menu items). Most burritos, from carne asada to chicken, average in cost from $4.50 to $5.50. The shrimp tips the scale at $8.75 — around the price of a combination plate. You can even create your own burrito by choosing the ingredients for around $6.

You can stop by any day of the week as Taco Surf is open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Even if you don’t surf, you should drop in and enjoy a taco…and you’ve got to try the ceviche.