San Diego Style Carne Asada

Carne Asada

Looking for kick ass Carne Asada? Your search is over. You can stop the hunt.

You just found the BEST San Diego Style Carne Asada Recipe available outside your local taqueria. If you’re not from San Diego, or haven’t visited, you may think distinguishing this Carne Asada Recipe as “San Diego Style” is a bit odd. And it is. But there’s a reason.

San Diego, hands down, has the best Mexican food in the US (View our list of Mexican Recipes). There I said it. There’s a reason Mexican restaurants in Texas brand themselves as “San Diego Style Mexican Food.” They’re smart enough to know Tex-Mex has nothing on authentic Mexican Food. Plus, with the sheer amount of Californians moving to the state, there is a huge market for this style of Mexican Food. Tex-Mex doesn’t cut it when you’re jonesing for authentic carne asada tacos or carne asada burritos.

Most folks outside California lump all of us together. Please don’t. From Central Coast on up, they have no idea how to cook good Carne Asada. Years ago, when they let passangers carry outside food on a plane, I’d package up a few carne asada burritos and treat my friends in San Jose. After all, they had to listen to me whine about the lack of quality Mexican joints in the Bay Area. I mean,


When we moved away from San Diego we had to figure out how to make Carne Asada at home. Of course tips from the local line chef at the taco joint helped guide us in the right direction. We tweaked and tweaked until we came up with this Carne Asada Marinade. Anytime we had guests over, we’d treat them to Carne Asada burritos, complete with tortillas, restaurant style homemade salsa and guacamole, all from scratch.


Here are a few tips when preparing the carne asada:

We prefer flank steak, but you can also use flap meat. Either cut makes for a great meal.

Medium well makes for the best texture and firmness.

10 minutes before we place the meat on the grill, we sprinkle it with this meat tenderizer (hello, it’s just $3!). It comes out tender every time.

If you can swing it, try and make everything from scratch – the tortillas, salsa and guacamole. It really makes a big difference in the final product. There’s nothing worse than a plastic tasting tortilla masking the taste of carne asada.

Calculate 1 pound of meat per 4 people on the low end. For folks with heavy appetites, you may want to increase it by a half pound. Any leftovers can be used in a breakfast burrito the next morning.

This Carne Asada marinade works best when left in the refrigerator overnight. In a pinch, you can do it first thing in the morning, but make sure to give it at least 6 hours for the best flavor.

Don’t sub out any of the ingredients (say oregano vs. Mexican oregano). They each play an important role and you’re not getting the full San Diego Style Carne Asada experience without it.

Anyway – PLEASE leave a comment below and let us know what you thought of this recipe!

San Diego Style Carne Asada
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
San Diego Style Authentic Carne Asada Recipe loaded with Mexican flavors and taste. Perfect for carne asada tacos or burritos.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican Food
Serves: 6
  • 2.5 Lbs. Flank Steak or Flap Meat
  • ¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Lime Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. Minced Garlic
  • ¾ Tbsp. Garlic Salt
  • ½ Tbsp. White Pepper
  • ½ Tbsp. Cumin
  • ½ Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • ½ Tbsp. Mexican Oregano
  • ⅛ Ground Cloves
  • 1 Orange (Sliced)
  1. Add all the ingredients (except the meat and orange slices) to a medium size bowl and stir until blended. Transfer to a large Ziploc Bag.
  2. Add the steak and shake to coat the entire piece of meat evenly.
  3. Lay the bag flat and add the orange slice directly to the meat - half on top and half on bottom.
  4. Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
  5. Before grilling, remove from the refrigerator up to an hour in advance.
  6. Ten minutes before grilling, add meat tenderizer (optional)
  7. Pre-heat grill to medium high.
  8. Place meat directly on greased grate for 10 minutes.
  9. Flip and grill for an additional 7-8 minutes, until your desired doneness (165 is well done).
  10. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.



Authentic San Diego Style Carne Asada Recipe! Perfect for Carne Asada Tacos or Carne Asada Burritos. Better Carne Asada than you'll find at your local taqueria. This Mexican Food Recipe is perfect for Cinco de Mayo! More recipes at


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