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(Pictured from left) Christian Leyva, Elena Ramos and Reggie Gaeta, owner of La Perla Tapatia. Photo by David Boylan
(Pictured from left) Christian Leyva, Elena Ramos and Reggie Gaeta, owner of La Perla Tapatia. Photo by David Boylan
ColumnsFood & WineLick the Plate

Discovering La Perla Tapatia in Oceanside

How did I learn about La Perla Tapatia? Well, most of us that work in an office environment have, at some point, had a vendor bring in breakfast as a show of appreciation. It’s usually bagels or doughnuts, and it’s a welcome gesture. This occurred recently at my office/warehouse in Oceanside, and to my surprise and delight, the offering was a pile of the most enormous breakfast burritos I’ve ever seen.

I was in breakfast burrito heaven, and when I grabbed one labeled ham, potato, beans, eggs and rice, I was stunned by its weight. It was sizable in length and girth — a hefty burrito that weighed so much I could have pumped up my arms doing curls with it!

And as a bonus, this monster was one of the most delicious I’ve ever had.

The house-made tortilla was not only soft and pliable with a slight char, but it was also solid enough to keep the ingredients intact, an essential attribute of tortillas…as I’ve had many that tasted good but exploded everywhere after a few bites.

First, I had to find out where these beauties came from. I was quickly informed they were from La Perla Tapatia on Mission, very close to our workplace! Further exploration was in order.

I stopped by after work shortly after the breakfast burrito experience with two solid eaters in tow, co-workers Brooks Venters and Alec Maskiewicz. These guys have both proven themselves before on Lick the Plate eating adventures that required a big appetite, which was going to be a requirement with this one. I should note they did not disappoint me and are still Lick the Plate worthy!

Before diving into the eating adventure, I was curious about the meaning behind the restaurant’s name. It loosely translates into being an habitant of or from Guadalajara. La Perla is a reasonably obvious translation into “the pearl.” Owner Reggie Gaeta is a Guadalajara native and paid tribute to his hometown by naming his restaurant after it.

La Perla Tapatia is a combination bakery, meat market, convenience store, and indoor taco stand all in one, unlike any other Mexican joint you’ll find on the coast in North County. They offer a wide selection of baked goods, including some of the best pies and cakes, such as their famous Tres Leches. You can also purchase their homemade flour or corn tortillas to create homemade Mexican-inspired dishes for friends and family.

La Perla Tapitia is located on Mission Avenue in Oceanside. Photo by David Boylan
La Perla Tapatia is located on Mission Avenue in Oceanside. Photo by David Boylan

Your taco or burrito or whatever you order is assembled in front of you, providing an opportunity for easy customization. At this point, you realize the sheer magnitude of the ingredients being piled into the giant tortilla…in the case of a burrito. We each ordered our own giant burrito but also tried trying their Birria tacos and ceviche tostada to mix it up a bit.

All were quite fabulous, and as mentioned, we ended the meal with the best Tres Leches I’ve had in a long time. For those unfamiliar, Tres Leches is a sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk: evaporated, condensed, and whole. It’s a perfect dessert after a hearty meal as it is on the lighter side and is simply delightful.

Given the ample servings at La Perla Tapatia, it was a perfect opportunity to put my new eating mantra of portion control to its first real test. And seriously, if I were to devour one of those breakfast burritos in one sitting, I would be unable to do much of anything productive. But, of course, sometimes that’s OK, but not on a workday.

That said that mongo burrito ended up being both breakfast and dinner. The California Burrito I had for dinner was also my lunch the next day. And believe me, it takes a lot of willpower not to devour such savory goodness in one sitting. I can’t do it anymore and feel much better knowing I can stop. Huge portions provide great value if you can stretch them out, and La Perla Tapatia is an excellent spot to make that happen.

I’m just stoked I discovered a new Mexican restaurant that does things differently enough to make me want to add it to my mix. We live in a land of Mexican food delights with so many great options it’s easy to take them for granted.

I can’t wait to explore the bakery and meat counter more at La Perla Tapitia, as they both looked fabulous. I only scratched the surface of their savory and sweet menu items, all of which look worth exploring.

La Perla Tapatia is at 1910 Mission Avenue and 625 N. Redondo Drive in Oceanside.

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