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Feb 17, 2001 05:33 PM

Taqueria San Jose: Far short of expectations

  • a

I'm puzzled by the glowing posts about San Rafael's Taqueria San Jose. It is depressingly dingy, frighteningly dirty, and although my husband liked his burrito, my soft taco was filled with tough, greasy, gristly pork carnitas (and I had ordered al pastor). My quesadilla was tasty, but the chicken on it was really too "soupy wet" and made the corn tortilla soggy.
We are fans of the El Sombrero Taqueria in Healdsburg, and would drive the 40 minutes it takes us to get there. It is spotless, cheerfully decorated, and the food over-all is delicious and not at all greasy or heavy. The soft tacos are especially good. Of course some of the taquerias in the Mission are exemplary, but alas, too far to drive just for a fix.
Also, the La Luna Taqueria in Rutherford is yummy. Their vegetarian burrito is the best of any in Napa County.

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  1. For a slightly shorter drive, try stopping at "The Hat" #2 located in Santa Rosa at the corner of Piner and Range. Take the Bicentennial exit to the west side of the freeway.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mark B

      Thanks for pointing this out. I drive by that corner all the time and the name never registered. I had liked the taqueria in that same spot 10 years ago, then the Mexican restaurant that followed it that had about 8 styles of tamales from different regions. Since I'd only tried half of them, I was forlorn when they folded. The next tenant wasn't any good, and I just started ignoring the place.

    2. b
      Brandon Nelson

      Hi Ann

      I've never found the place to be "depressingly dingy". It's pretty well kept except for the rush hours. I have never been in the ladies restroom (I hope that gets a "duh" from the audience) but the mens room is a little disheveled from time to time.

      I have never had a gripe about the food. Maybe this was an off day, or maybe our tastes are different.

      I always found this place to be a great value. I don't have a difficult time finding good inexpensive taquerias in Napa, but Marin is another story. I know of 2. And San Jose is by far the better value. Sorry you didn't like it.


      1. I'm sorry you didn't like it. As much as I like El Sombrero Taqueria in Healdsburg (it's in my backyard to boot), the salsas at Taqueria San José are much better and the tacos are potentially as good. I've only been once, and one of tacos was not up to snuff but the other was really special.

        El Sombrero is unusually clean. The management mops the floors in between lunch and dinner - sometimes to my dismay as I'd rather not smell cleaning fluid when I'm having a late lunch. But it does keep the place spotless.

        There's a not a taqueria in the Mission that I like better than El Sombrero or San José (exception of my favorite taco truck). Also I find most of them dingier than San José.

        I did have a chance tonight to check out Mark's suggestion of El Sombrero #2 on Piner Road. This place is even more cheerful and cleaner (I know, seems impossible). The food is the same good quality and execution. Salsa and soft tacos (lengua and carnitas tonight) are identical and, and the same bad chips.