According to locals, if you are looking for the best tacos al pastor in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, you go to Taqueria El Paisa. This local taqueria chain, which started as a single taco stand, is today popular with both locals and tourists for their affordable and delicious tacos al pastor (grilled pork tacos) and other taco options.
Looking for the best late night food in Cabo San Lucas? Then Taqueria El Paisa is your spot. With the taqueria open until 3:00AM everyday, you can stop here for tacos after a long night of drinking cervezas. Due to Covid-19, the restaurant may close earlier than usual, so be sure to check their hours before going.
With a location only steps away from my hotel in the marina, I knew I had to stop by Taqueria El Paisa to sample their famous tacos al pastor.
If you are looking for more information about Cabo San Lucas, I highly recommend you pick up a guidebook such as Moon Los Cabos: With La Paz & Todos Santos
You don’t visit Taqueria El Paisa for the décor but for the tacos. Like many restaurants in Cabo San Lucas, the restaurant featured a covered but open-air dining room. On warm sunny days, the breeze passing through the dining area can be quite comfortable. On the day I visited, it was windy and rainy. So with no walls, it was colder that I was anticipating.
The taqueria reminded me of a street food stall complete with the street noise, sounds of workers preparing food, and the smell of smoke and meat. If you are expecting a quiet dining experience, you might be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are a fan of street food as I am, then you might appreciate the experience. With that said, I found the restaurant to be impeccably clean.
On one side of the restaurant was a small open kitchen. The workers in the kitchen were cooking meat on the grill, chopping up meat and vegetables, and preparing tacos and other dishes. Behind them was a woman who was making fresh tortillas, a must for a any real taqueria.
Like most taquerias serving al pastor, there was a large vertical rotisserie piled high with pork in plain view of everyone walking by on the street. This vertical spit of pork, known as a trompo in Spanish, cooked the meat as it rotated slowly over an open flame. Every few minutes, a man would use his knife to slice thin pieces of pork off the rotating spit and into a small corn tortilla. He then topped the pork with onions, cilantro, and slices of pineapple. For something so simple, it was beautiful to watch.
Taqueria El Paisa Menu
The menu at Taqueria El Paisa featured a selection of traditional tacos, vampiro tacos (similar to a tostada), gringas tacos (made with flour tortillas), taco macho (made with a roasted pepper), and quesadillas. Tacos could be topped with proteins such as beef, pork, sausage, beef tripe, chicken, shrimp, and fish.
The second page of the menu featured an interesting selection of dishes I wasn’t expecting at a taqueria. You had grilled steak and pork plates, chorreada (similar to a gordita), potatoes with or without meat, and onions. Other than that, there was a small selection of sides and desserts.
As for drinks, the selection was limited. You had water, horchata, jamaica, tea, and soda. Want beer with your tacos? While they didn’t sell beer here, you can always bring your own.
Complimentary Salsa Bar
Taqueria El Paisa featured a salsa bar with everything you would need. This included an assortment of salsas ranging from mild to spicy, freshly made pico de gallo, guacamole, limes, and vegetables including onions, cabbage, and cucumbers. All of the condiments were complimentary, so you could add as much or as little as you wanted. My favorite condiment was the creamy guacamole which kept me coming back for more.
At many taquerias found across Mexico, when you order your tacos, you will receive them plain on a tortilla with no other toppings. This was no different at Taqueria El Paisa. This might seem strange if this is your first time visiting a taqueria, but this is where the real magic begins. Once you have your tacos, you can head over to the salsa bar and add whatever toppings and salsas you want.
Grilled Pork Taco Macho
While most people were ordering the classic tacos al pastor, listed on the menu as the Grilled Pork Taco (35 pesos or about $1.73), I knew I had to try the Grilled Pork Taco Macho (50 pesos or about $2.48) when I saw it. The standard grilled pork taco was made with thinly sliced pork, a slice of pineapple, diced onions, and cilantro on a light grilled, perfectly chewy, homemade corn tortilla. There is just something special about a homemade tortilla. The taco macho version was the same except for the addition of an opened faced pepper and cheese.
This taco looked amazing. The most unique component had to be the large, fresh pepper which was roasted until charred on the outside. The tender yet crispy roasted pepper added a distinct smoky flavor to each bite. While not spicy, the pepper added a hint of heat. Mixed into the pepper was a slightly melted white cheese. The combination of pepper and cheese reminded me of a chile relleno, similar to the one I had over at Isabel Restaurant – Bar & Friends, but without being fried.
Even though the pepper and cheese were great, the highlight of the taco was the pork which was sliced thin off the spit just moments after ordering. Each fresh slice of pork packed a ton of smoky, salty, rich flavors, a direct result of the marinade and the process of being slow cooked over an open flame. The pork might have been thin but it had a great texture with a mixture of tender lean meat and melt-in-your-mouth fatty bits.
Topping the pork was the classic combination of pineapple, fresh diced onions, and cilantro. The slices of pineapple added a crunchy, fresh bite along with a sweet and tart component, complementing the rich, salty pork and smoky pepper.
Shrimp Taco and Sausage Taco
Next up was the Shrimp Taco (40 pesos or about $1.98). In this taco you had five pieces of fresh, plump, moist shrimp. The flavor of the shrimp was the perfect balance of salty and sweet. The taco really came to life when I added crunchy shredded cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, and a squeeze of lime juice. While simple, you can never go wrong with shrimp tacos, especially in Cabo San Lucas.
The final taco I sampled at Taqueria El Paisa was the Sausage Taco (35 pesos or about $1.73). This smoky and salty taco was made with rich chorizo. The depth of flavor led me to believe that this chorizo was homemade. The slightly greasy chorizo was both tender and chewy in texture. Just as with the shrimp taco, this sausage taco really shined when topped with salsa, pico de gallo, and guacamole.
Being a taqueria, I found the service at Taqueria El Paisa to be quick and professional. After ordering, my food arrived freshly prepared only moments later. You won’t find any microwaves here. The servers and staff who were operating the humble open-air restaurant were friendly to both locals and tourists who visited. I also appreciated how clean the restaurant was, thanks to the workers who seemed to always be cleaning.
There were so many reason to love Taqueria El Paisa. If you want some of the best tacos al pastor in the city, you come here. Not only was the food delicious but the prices were affordable, the service was friendly, the restaurant was clean, and the place was open late. Just if they had beer.
- One of the best tacos al pastor in Cabo San Lucas
- Friendly service
- Extensive menu
- Clean dining room
- Open late
- No beer, but you can bring your own
Lazaro Cardenas, Centro, Ildefonso Green, 23450 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
GPS Coordinates: 22.88618,-109.91228