San Diego taco shops usually have at least two different chicken burritos on their menus: a shredded chicken burrito and a grilled chicken burrito. The grilled chicken or pollo asado is usually seasoned diced chicken; grilled on a flat top and stuffed inside a ginormous flour tortilla with pico de gallo and guacamole while the regular chicken burrito is simply filled with stewed and shredded chicken. I enjoy both versions but I find the shredded chicken easier to replicate at home than the pollo asado.
Growing up in San Diego, these taco shops have a special place in my heart. They are unique to San Diego. The style is very different from Mexican restaurants found in other parts of the country. I think it is a regional development due to San Diego's proximity to Tijuana (TJ). Where else can you find carne asada fries? Most of the shops are independently owned (with a few chains thrown into the mix) but they taste very similar. (Of course there are standouts but you can pretty much walk into any taco shop in San Diego and walk out pretty happy.)
Looking for a great taco shop in San Diego? Below are a few of my favorites.
JV’s in Linda Vista/Morena: 1112 Morena Boulevard http://www.jvsmexicanfood.com/menu.htm
El Cuervo in Hillcrest: 110 West Washington Street
El Cotixan in Clairemont: 4676 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
I came up with the recipe below in my attempt to recreate the shredded chicken. I use this as a filling for burritos, tacos and enchiladas. This recipe is really flexible. Sometimes I use boneless or bone-in breast, boneless or bone-in thighs or a whole chicken. Most taco shops use dark meat.
Taco Shop Shredded Chicken Filling
3 pounds chicken (whole, breasts or thighs)
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic
3 tomatoes or 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, diced
a few jalapenos or serranos, or a green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1. Simmer chicken with water, bay leaves and garlic until chicken is cooked through. Allow chicken to cool and then shred. Discard bay leaves and garlic and reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Return shredded chicken to pot and add tomatoes, onions, peppers, cumin, chile powder, oregano, salt, pepper and the reserved cooking liquid. Simmer until tomatoes are broken down and liquid has evaporated. (Dark meat will benefit from a longer cooking time but don’t overcook breast meat.)