Is It Tuesday Yet? Here’s our Not-So-Secret List of Orange County’s Best Spots for Taco Tuesday.
You probably love tacos. You’re not alone. There’s something about the way the toasty corn flavor of a tortilla compliments the gently steaming piles of pork pastor, or grilled chicken, or carne asada that is incredibly satisfying.
Add a cold Mexican beer or delicious margarita to the pile of tacos on your plate, and you have the makings of a great meal.
Taco Tuesday menus typically offer the smaller street tacos, they also typically offer smaller prices to match. Don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. Plenty of places offer free, house-made chips and/or salsa with your order, and just as many places offer discounted beer or margaritas. What’s not to like?
Taco Trivia: Tuesday taco deals have been a thing since the 1930’s, although use of the phrase taco Tuesday wouldn’t be documented until the 1970s by various independent sources.
Now, technically, you don’t need to wait until Tuesday to have tacos (really, is there a bad time to eat tacos?). But Taco Tuesday is popular in Southern California, especially in the coastal cities, and that means that most people consider it a good day to go out and eat a lot of good Mexican food.
Which is great, because Southern California has a long list of great Mexican restaurants; Orange County in particular has a lot of places for you to choose from if you’re looking to satisfy that taco craving (and maybe a margarita one, too). So many choices, in fact, that you might have a hard time deciding where to go and what to try.
That’s a problem we can fix.
Maybe you’re a taco lover from way back, or maybe this is your first foray into the delicious combination of cheap street tacos and non-chain restaurants. Either way, Taco Tuesday is a great way to indulge your cravings… and did we mention the cheap prices?
Best Places For Taco Tuesday
If decision-making isn’t your strong suit, we’ve put together a list of some of the best Taco Tuesday spots in Orange County. Get ready to get your taco on!
Taco Trivia: Midwestern restaurant chain Taco John’s trademarked Taco Tuesday in 1989.
Known for its authentic Oaxacan recipes, this family-owned gem offers solid value for your taco dollar. They’re known for their authentic birria dishes (abuela’s recipe, so you know it’s good).
Taqueros Restaurant is located in Mission Viejo on Marguerite Parkway, so its easily accessible. Their Taco Tuesday special is buy one taco, get one of the same for free, so keep that in mind if you want to try more than one kind of taco.
Tip: If you love spicy, go for the orange hot sauce. It’s not to be missed!
Recommended dishes: birria tacos, chicken tacos, potato tacos, watermelon agua fresca.
Taco Tuesday Trivia: Taco John’s trademark is in all states except New Jersey, where “Taco Tuesday” had already been trademarked by Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in 1982
If you’re looking for an authentic taqueria vibe in Southern Orange County, you want to make the drive to Perla’s Taqueria on Charlinda Drive in Mission Viejo.
The Taco Tuesday special doesn’t come with a time limit. It’s $1.50 per taco all day long, with a choice of soft or hard tacos and the usual variety of fillings (hint: the beef or chicken mole are the customer favorites).
Good things come to those who wait, and if you come on Tuesday, you will be waiting. Perla’s is popular and the line is frequently out the door. It’s worth it, though. A nice little perk: they offer complimentary chips with each order.
Recommended dishes: OK, so a churro isn’t a taco, but you don’t want to miss the churros here. Order them while they’re hot. They’re the perfect ending to your taco adventure.
A gorgeous restaurant in Newport Beach, Sol Mexican Cocina is notable for two things: the service and the food. In that order.
Service is key at this waterfront spot, but the food meets that high bar, so if you’re looking for a reason not to go… well, there isn’t one.
Sol Mexican Cocina’s Baja California inspired cuisine is just wonderful, and you get to try it out at a reasonable price with their Taco & Tequila Tuesday menu. This isn’t their full menu: it has a nice basic assortment of ceviche, a quesadilla, tacos (including a veggie option), and the very non-vegetarian Animale Taco, with carne asada, fries, cheese, Sriracha sauce, onions and cilantro.
The street tacos are gorgeously simple, with thin, tender tortillas piled with fluffy shredded meat. Enjoy your order as you sit on the umbrella-shaded deck and take in the view of the channel. Nothing makes a taco better than a great view of the harbor… unless it’s eating a taco while overlooking the harbor with your favorite dog by your side (they have pet-friendly patio seating). Oh, and there’s complimentary bean dip, salsa & tostadas, too.
Recommended dishes: The CDMX tacos and Spanish octopus are not to be missed.
Taco Tuesday Trivia: LeBron James started posting on Instagram about his family’s “Taco Tuesday” dinners in 2019, and he eventually tried to trademark the phrase. His request was denied on the grounds that “Taco Tuesday” had become a commonplace term.
Over on Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa, El Matador has been serving tacos and tequila for fifty years.
Their Taco Tuesday deals are simple and straightforward: $3.50 hard tacos (choose moist shredded chicken, shredded beef or flavorful ground beef), or $4.50 soft tacos (your choices are fish, savory steak or tender carnitas). There are a couple of margarita options for you, one of which is El Matador’s house recipe. Anything that’s been going strong since 1966 has to be good!
El Matador has another claim to fame… their Wall of Tequila. Their Tequila Wall of Fame boasts over 400 different tequilas, and they are more than happy to share them. They only collect tequilas that are 100% agave, so you know quality is key.
The outdoor seating can get a little loud, but the food and service is great.
Recommended dish: chicken taco, wet chicken burrito.
Playa Mesa, in Costa Mesa, doesn’t just have an all-day Taco Tuesday, it also has a full bar. If you prefer your tacos in the open air, the outdoor seating is great.
You know what else is great? $8 margaritas to go with those $3.50 tacos.
Ordering off the a la carte menu for your tacos is easy… there’s even a vegetarian menu available (and the rice and beans are vegan). Complimentary chips and salsa come with your order, but don’t fill up on them, because Playa Mesa’s desserts are amazing.
If you’ve got a larger group, they do take reservations, and you’ll want to know that parking is valet only (bring cash).
Tip: For a free mimosa, check out their Yelp page. Just send the code to your phone.
Recommended dishes: cafe de olla and chilaquiles are recommended
The District Lounge doesn’t just do Taco Tuesday right, it also does Happy Hour right… Monday through Friday from 2PM to 7PM.
District Lounge lives up to its name… it’s got a great ambiance for lounging, relaxing, and socializing. With pool tables, a digital jukebox, and a dance floor with a DJ playing on the weekends.
But along with all that lounging comes a pretty great Taco Tuesday menu from 4PM to 10PM. It’s not very big (four kinds of street tacos and a fish taco), but they’re a very affordable $1.50, so you can have as many as you want.
Recommended dish: carnitas tacos
With thirteen locations around Southern California, Avila’s is the only restaurant on our list that qualifies as a chain. Every one of those restaurants, though, has stayed in the family. There’s an Avila helming each of them to make sure that the family recipes and friendly service they’ve been providing for decades stays exactly the same as it’s always been.
Their extensive regular menu is definitely worth diving into, but we’re focusing on the Taco Tuesday version. From 4PM until the restaurant closes, you can get a succulent shredded beef, shredded chicken, ground beef, or potato taco for $2.50. Carnitas, asada, or charbroiled chicken tacos will run you a little more at $3.50.
The trick to Taco Tuesday, though, is that you’ll need to buy a beverage in order to get that special pricing. But when Avila’s is just as known for its delicious margaritas as it is for its authentic and delicious food, is that a bad thing?
Tip: The patio is dog-friendly, and the whole restaurant is family friendly.
Recommended dish: cucumber margarita, tacos, fajitas
At the opposite end of the taqueria spectrum is slick gastronomy outpost Urbana. Most of the time tacos are easy street food… but at Urbana it’s a fine dining experience that happens to turn tacos into high art. Really tasty high art.
Wander through the bottom floor of the Anaheim Packing District and you’ll find this place. Just look for the Dia de los Muertos-themed décor and follow your nose for the rest. Urbana doesn’t just provide good food, it provides great ambiance (if you’re looking for a new date night spot, take notes).
The food isn’t the only art form here. The unusual cultural décor makes for a great Instagram backdrop, so you’re definitely going to want to take pictures of your food before you dig in (if you can.) Call them to find out their latest Taco Tuesday specials; two of their special tacos for $8 is a great deal! Of course, you’ll want one of their award-winning margaritas to wash them down (we recommend the Hibiscus Watermelon Spicy margarita).
Tip: Sit at the high tables if you can. The view is great!
Recommended dishes: carnitas tacos, tacos dorados, tacos al pastor, arrachera steak tacos, lobster ceviche.
Huntington Beach’s Solita Tacos really knows how to rock that laid-back SoCal vibe and mix it with fantastic Mexican food. Solita is an upscale restaurant that mixes beach aesthetic with warm wood tones and clean-lined décor.
The food matches the ambiance, and you can watch carne asada cooking on the wood-fired grill (keep an eye out for the elotes, too!). Taco & Tequila Tuesday runs from 3PM to close, and while you’re there you can taste some of Orange County’s more unique tacos. We’re talking about a cali elote taco with grilled corn and black beans, crispy fish street tacos, oak-roasted chicken tacos, even tofu or sweet potato and bacon tacos. You’re definitely not going to find run-of-the-mill Taco Tuesday fare here!
Recommended dish: the fascinatingly named vampiro taco with its chipotle sauce and serrano peppers.
Santa Ana’s Taqueria el Zamorano serves up authentic traditional tacos and burritos with meats you don’t find everywhere, like beef cheek and tripe.
They have a limited Taco Tuesday offer of three tacos (chicken, beef or pork… sorry, the more interesting stuff is still full price) for $6. The food is great and there isn’t a bad dish on the menu. The parking can get a little dicey, though, so you might want to look for street parking if the lot is full.
Recommended dish: the taco cabeza will absolutely melt in your mouth.
TACO TUESDAY HONORABLE MENTIONS
While Tacos de Birria in Laguna Hills may not have an official Taco Tuesday deal, they do offer a variety of delicious taco options to satisfy your cravings… including tacos de lengua (beef tongue) and tacos de longaniza (Mexican sausage). They don’t take reservations, but they do allow pets. Parking is free, and despite the many meat offerings, they do have a vegetarian taco.
Tip: Tacos de Birria has the most unique location on this Taco Tuesday list… it’s located in Saint George’s Church. Just follow the signs to the order window.
Recommended dish: the queso birria taco, queso birria quesadilla.
With so many great restaurants (and great tacos) to choose from, you’ll be celebrating Taco Tuesday for weeks to come.
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Kelly Smith is a freelance writer living in Southern California with one dog, two cats, two guinea pigs… and the rest of her family. She writes about Orange County, faith, family, special needs and tea, and world-builds science fiction universes on the side. Find her at www.bluerosecopywriting.com.