I had two ideas for what to write about this week.
I could either do something lamenting and rounding up the astounding number of stories fueled by toxic masculinity this week, whether it was the Las Vegas mass murderer, Harvey Weinstein, the creepy guy at the center of this addictive L.A. Times series, the second USC school med school dean in recent months resigning , President Trump allowing employers to deny women birth control coverage, the Breitbart bros who brought white nationalism mainstream …
Or, I could write about tacos.
Guess which one I picked.
This week, I talked with Ralph Rubio for the “I Made it in San Diego” podcast about, among other things, how he crafted the chain’s original fish taco, which is, in my opinion, pretty damn perfect.
I’ve come across a few San Diegans who’ve scoffed at the suggestion that Rubio’s makes the best fish taco in a city famous for fish tacos. Some people simply have knee-jerk negative reactions to chains (though Rubio’s began in a single location on Mission Bay Drive); others legitimately just like another fish taco better.
Regardless, it’s one of my favorites, and I’ve told myself for years that sometime I’ll use this space to just list my favorite San Diego tacos. Between meeting Ralph Rubio and enduring this vast hellscape of a news week, it felt like the right time to seek solace in tacos.
These are my top five San Diego tacos, in no particular order.
Surf & Turf at Oscars Mexican Seafood: Fish tacos, carne asada fries and Cali burritos could all make legit claims to being the ultimate Southern California food. But for me, it’s this taco. Skirt steak, grilled shrimp, melted cheese and avocado all living together in harmony.
Carne Asada at Salud: Over the years I’ve come to vastly prefer all kinds of pork tacos to carne asada. But the carne asada tacos at Salud are quite possibly the best tacos in the city – smoky and tender, evoking the best flavors from street tacos in Tijuana but with a tortilla and guac that are higher quality than what you’ll find at a street cart. (Note: This was a struggle for me, as the Barrio taco at Salud also has a very special place in my heart. Eat em both.)
Spicy Shrimp at The Taco Stand: On an early episode of “Top Chef,” one of the chefs got berated for creating a crab and brie quesadilla because he should have known, the judges argued, that seafood and cheese never go together. LOL. They must not know about Baja shrimp tacos, with their crispy layer of mozzarella or Oaxaca cheese. Though these are billed as spicy shrimp tacos, they’re not particularly spicy. They are insanely delicious, though.
Pulpo at TJ’s Oyster Bar: These ones are a lot like the Rubio’s fish taco in that their magic is in their simplicity, except instead of a battered and fried fish, there’s chopped bits of smoky, grilled octopus. They come with cilantro, onion and a strip of crema.
Birria at Tacos el Poblano: Depending on the day of the week, I might give the edge to Tacos el Gordo’s adobada when it comes to amazing TJ-style tacos. But on this day, I give the edge to the lesser-known birria at Tacos el Poblano in Chula Vista, where all the meat has that perfect chewy, charcoal-infused taste.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Whether officials say so outright or not, the city is clearly making moves to push the homeless population out of East Village as it addresses the hepatitis A crisis.
The county, meanwhile, is keeping data about hepatitis A cases and deaths close to the vest. Speaking of the county, instead of keeping its nice, new public restrooms open to the public in the midst of the crisis – which has been fueled in part by lack of bathroom access – it keeps the bathrooms closed at night and put up a port-a-potty outside. The lack of bathrooms and realities about how the disease spreads – through contact with poop – drives home how nature has a way of reminding us about our sanitation and infrastructure failings.
We also put together this cool video outlining how the crisis unfolded.
SANDAG is running so short of funds for its Transnet program, it’s now counting on the state passing two more gas tax hikes by 2030, which is, uh, not likely.
On top of SANDAG facing the possibility of not having the funds to pull off Transnet, San Diego’s economy in general is doing worse than we thought.
Both sides of the debate over who should purchase energy for San Diego residents are rallying their supporters and making their cases to the public. The Clear the Air coalition, which is opposed to letting the city buy power for its residents, includes several members with direct and indirect ties to Sempra, SDG&E’s parent company.
Maya Srikrishnan has been tracking the rise of personalized learning in San Diego County schools, and even though it looks a little different at each school, there are some fundamental traits they all share.
Then there’s the time kids spend outside of the classroom – specifically just before and after school. It’s hard for many parents to find good before- and after-school care, even if they’re willing to pay for it.
What I’m Reading
• Cecilia Lam called 911 eight times in nine hours, afraid her boyfriend would hurt or kill her. How’d she wind up dead anyway? (San Francisco Chronicle)
• One of the most perplexing things I’ve learned in adulthood is that it’s shockingly common for doctors to write off your symptoms and concerns and tell you you’re overreacting, or to just take some Advil. So this essay about breaking up with bad doctors really hit home. (Lenny Letter)
• Many of the people who called in to ICE’s new tip line were hoping to get their own spouses, stepkids and other family members deported. (Splinter)
• I’ve found myself doing far less reading about what happened in Vegas than I typically do for major news events, because it all feels so incredibly futile. That said, this piece about two strangers who met at the music festival, and the lengths one of them went to after the other was shot, is absolutely gutting. (Washington Post)
• If you’re like me and give serious side-eye to friends and acquaintances who try selling essential oils, you’ll appreciate this deep dive into whether they actually work. (New Yorker)
• Many people convicted of crimes are “spared” from jail and forced into a program that is actually slave labor in dangerous chicken processing plants. (Reveal)
Line of the Week
“My husband went over to his dad and said, ‘Dad, mom is kissing Jerry Rice,’ and his dad just nodded and said ‘It’s OK.’” – It’s been a rough week, and this story about how Jerry Rice has become a world-class wedding crasher is the delightful distraction we all need.