The Most Epic Taco Run

Eight guys ride to Mexico for lunch

Mexico boob house
The boob house is a mandatory stop on all of our trips southMonti Smith

I was raised about 60 miles from the Mexican-American border at San Ysidro in California, and while political climates have changed in many ways over the years, the tacos have not. The combination of drug wars and immigration policies have been enough to keep a lot of tourists from crossing the border, but with a recent push toward restoring tourism, Baja has become a much safer place.

Personally, I never stopped my trips south because…well…I’m a slave to the al pastor. This juicy tower of pork calls to me from miles away and haunts my dreams. Luckily I have friends with addictions similar to mine, in both tacos and motorcycles, so we loaded up on our bikes and jammed down to Mexico to quench our aching thirst for real, authentic tacos.

gabes ride out
Gabe is native to Tijuana and helps us find all the good underground taco spotsMonti Smith

Trust me when I say that the best Southern California tacos do not hold a candle to their counterparts just a few miles farther south. Al pastor is basically just a 3-foot tower of sliced and marinated pork that is stacked and speared through the middle then spun in front of an open flame all day while a machete-wielding taco wizard shaves off pieces directly into a corn tortilla and adds cilantro, onion, and a dash of salsa. You can get cheese if you ask for it, maybe a slice of avocado, but that’s pretty much it. Farther south they’ll do a small slice of pineapple, which is insanely delicious with the spicy, smoky pork, but not in Baja. All this for usually about one dollar.

Mexico motorcycles
Morgan and Gabe between Rosarito and EnsenadaMonti Smith
mexican tacos
Left: Goat tacos from the cart next to The Dandy in Tijuana. Right: Monti taking in all that the Tijuana streets have to offer-- tacos and a shoe shine.Morgan Gales

The oldest bar in Tijuana is called The Dandy, and there is this awesome little taco cart that’s always right across the street from it, but they don’t serve pastor. No, they have a whole different type of meat-tower waiting for you here: goat. Before you judge, it’s very good. Juicy and tender, cooked slow on the open flame with a handful of fragrant spices filling the air around the cart. You walk up on one side and grab tacos then hand money to someone on the other side. With 10 people clamoring to be served, I have no clue how it really works, but it does. From there, we loaded up on the bikes and headed down to Rosarito for round two.

motorcycles mexico
Zach on the slowest and loudest bike in the group, but he sure looked goodMonti Smith

The second stop was this little corner restaurant that I have been going to for the past three years for their surf-and-turf tacos. They start with oil on the fryer then drop cheese straight on top of that. The cheese starts to fry up and they’ll throw a corn tortilla on top then let it sit for a second and flip it over. On top of the fried, melted cheese goes a long, thin slice of skirt steak, three or four freshly grilled shrimp, a cream-based salsa, and a couple slices of avocado. This is a different level of taco, so naturally this one will cost you way more at $2.50. The mixed textures, smoky meat, and creamy salsa all work together to make a taco like I haven’t been able to find anywhere else, not even in Mexico.

Doctor Jeff
Dr. Jeff stretching the legs on his Honda Shadow through BajaMonti Smith
baja tacos
Baja TacoMorgan Gales

Our third and final stop was right outside of Ensenada, so we saddled back up for the one-hour ride to round three.

They got really creative with the name on this one: Baja Taco. This place is a little bigger, right on the main street with four different taco stations. One for chicken, one for fish and shrimp, one for beef, and one for al pastor. Guess where I went first. I knew what the plan was from the beginning, so I made sure to save some room for the first al pastor of the trip. I was so glad I did. I usually have them put the sliced meat on the grill for a second, charring up the fatty ends a little bit and adding some crunch. I ordered three tacos and this meat-wizard dropped them in front of me 10 seconds later. I went in like a ravenous dog and then needed to be carried back to my bike in a wheelbarrow. After the rest of the guys had their fill, we circled around the bikes to figure out the rest of the plan.

Motorcycles mexico
Morgan likes to do stupid things when you point a camera at him. And he likes to rock.Monti Smith

We were right outside of Ensenada and the McGregor/Mayweather fight was about to start. We could ride all the way home or watch the fight in Mexico, where people go apeshit over boxing. Our choice was made for us. We headed down to Ensenada and started looking for a cheap hotel room to stash our things before heading out for the night.

From there, the memories get fuzzy. Or maybe it’s just best I leave it that way so our bosses don’t know what we really do in our time off in Mexico. Just tacos and beer—and maybe one short ride on the zebra-painted donkey.

motorcycles mexico
"When a couple of guys who were up to no good..."Monti Smith
Baja Taco, Mexico
Stopped at Baja Taco outside of EnsenadaMonti Smith
mexico pikachu
Deciding not to ride back to California was a good choice. Not for our livers, but for our sanity.Monti Smith