Vegans have a difficult time with Mexican food. Sure, we can opt for the standard combination of chips, guacamole, beans and salsa (“nachos”), if the restaurant doesn’t find a way to include dairy even in these basics, but these simple ingredients become boring. Is it possible to purchase a burrito without worrying if the tortilla contains dairy? Can we ever enjoy authentic tamales? Is there a place for us to sit down and munch on a chimichanga?
The answer is yes. On an unassuming corner of Pearl Street in Downtown La Jolla lies Don Carlos, a gem of local Mexican food. Its ambiance is that of a traditional taco shop, but something is distinct about this eatery.
Within its extensive menu lie countless opportunities for a vegan meal. Soyrizo can replace meat within burritos, chimichangas, tortas, carne asada fries and anything else they offer. I opted for a Soyrizo Burrito, which usually contains soyrizo, beans, rice, salsa, lettuce and cheese. As the sign suggests, I told the staff to hold the cheese, since I am vegan. Unfortunately, Don Carlos does not do substitutions or exchanges and I had to pay an extra .99 cents for guacamole, a personal essential. It was worthy every penny, since they are quite generous with their portions.
Don Carlos’ red and green salsas are the best salsas I have tasted at local Mexican restaurants. The Salsa Verde in particular provided the final kick to my taste buds. A word of warning; these portions are not for the weak of stomach. Though I wrapped up a fourth of my burrito for leftovers, a food coma knocked me into a stupor for twenty minutes after my meal. It is simply too easy to fall into eating overdrive at the prospect of a mouth-watering, multi-ingredient vegan burrito.
Other personal Don Carlos favorites:
– Potato and Bean Chimichanga, no cheese and guacamole on top (not specifically listed on the menu)
– Soyrizo Don Carlos Fries, no cheese and no sour cream, add guacamole.
For more information, visit Don Carlos’ website: