Tony Gonzalez returned from duty with the Army in World War II and opened a Mexican restaurant in Solana Beach featuring the cooking of his wife Catalina, naming it Tony’s Jacal. “Jacal” is the Spanish word for a shack or hut. Aside from Mexican food, the Gonzaleces served traditional American fare like chicken dinners, sliced turkey plates, and t-bone steaks, dishes that are still sold here by their descendants 73 years later. As with many cross-over restaurants of this type from this era, left-overs often found their way into tortillas, thus beginning the “Turkey Taco” that Tony’s has become well-known for.
I ordered the “Turkey Taco” with Tony’s sweet, sour, and salty “Cabbage Salad,” and it was much better than it had any right to be. To create this taco, a sizable portion of roasted turkey is shredded, then deep fried in a corn tortilla, and then covered with lettuce and cotija cheese. The cumin-laced salsa roja served with the complimentary corn tortilla chips goes well with this taco and you’ll want to use it as a dip for the taco. The turkey meat is moist, well-seasoned (hit with salt and a good amount of peppercorn flavorings, along with the tangible essence of poultry herbs such as sage and rosemary), and is saturated with wonderful flavor. Other than Loreto’s “Turkey Soul Taco” up in Compton, this is my favorite turkey taco in Southern California.
Taco Scores: Turkey Taco (92)
Jay Recommends: Turkey Taco with Cabbage Salad
Tony’s Jacal; 621 Valley Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075; Monday through Saturday from 11:00am-2:00pm and 5:00pm-8:00pm, Sunday from 3:00pm-8:00pm (special COVID-19 pandemic hours); (858) 755-2274; https://tonysjacalsd.com