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Lost Orange County Boy Again - Fried Tacos?

I am in the Lake Merrit area. Who makes a great fried Taco? The kind of taco they fry up fresh for you right then and there? Stuffed FULL of filling, lettuce and mexican cheeses and a great salsa?

I went to La Pinata in Alameda (not my choice) and it was ASStastic!

Horrible service, and uninspired mexican food. Stuff you could microwave out of a frozen entree meal is better! My "hard" tacos came in those screaming yellow premade shells and were so soggy you couldnt pick them up.

Good chips and salsa though

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  1. Try Cactus on College Avenue across from the Rockridge BART station. The crispy tacos (especially the prawns) are really good.

    10 Replies
    1. re: The Dive

      Hey Dive... do you know if they have crispy Spinach-Garlic, Potato-Chorizo, or Chipotle-Fish tacos... those are my favorite types of crispy tacos back in Mexico City.

      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        Picante in Berkeley (not a place I'm crazy about in general) makes delicous papas y chorizo. I imagine you can order them dorados but I've never tried. Default around here is steamed.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I love their papas y chorizo, but must they be so greasy? I suppose it's a function of their homemade chorizo?, but even a cousin who never shys away from fat, was aghast at the pool of red oil.

          They do crispy tacos at Gallegos and at the El Novillo truck near the Fruitvale BART station.

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            Picante's is relatively lean. If you think that's fatty, try one at Taqueria San Jose sometime.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                The lettering outside the trailer of La Joya Taqueria in Vallejo says "Tacos Al Vapor". I'm not sure if they are actually "Al Vapor" though.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              No - only meats and a grilled vegetable one. The place is rather upscale (they use only Niman Ranch, etc.), but they really do a good job with the crispy tacos.

            2. re: The Dive

              I LOVE the crispy tacos at Cactus. The shrimp is an old favorite, but I recently had the beef, and they were fantastic.

            3. I, too, grew up with fried tacos in San Diego. You know it's a real fried taco when there's shredded beef in it.

              Chico's tacos in Fremont (now gone) did a pretty good rendition. Believe it or not, Una Mas does a good crispy taco filled with grilled chicken and guac. I've noticed that Baja Cactus in Milpitas has them on the menu (with shredded beef I think), so I've been wanting to go there.

              11 Replies
              1. re: katya

                Are you talking about Flautas (Crispy Rolled Tacos stuffed with Shredded Beef)... because I think those are different than what we are talking about (folded fried tacos).

                I know the distinction is mundane... but the method indicates the more common fillings:

                > Flautas are usually stuffed with shredded beef... I have had other variations with shredded chicken, fish, iguana & rabbit.

                > Folded fried tacos (at least in Mexico) are almost always have vegetable based fillings.... beans, potato, squash blossom & greens (quelites, chard & spinach) being the most common.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  You're not talking about quesadillas made from raw masa?

                  If so, they make those at El Huarache Azteca. Also sopes, gorditas, and of course huaraches. And on weekends, barbacoa de borrego.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    No, it's those tacos durados again. La Tapatio in Richmond makes them. The first time I had them, it rivaled my favorite SD area place. The last time, not so much.

                    Down the road, there's a Mexican/Peruvian joint that the menu says has fish durados, but I haven't tried them yet because the minimum order is three and I've been focusing on the Peruvian side of the menu.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      No (Queretaro style) quesadillas are usually thicker than the tacos and are deep fried with the filling inside... whereas with tacos the tortilla is folded & fried by itself...then stuffed.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        I don't think that's at all common around here. Except for the fold it sounds pretty much like a tostada.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          No tostadas are typically processed differently (my dad is a master tostada maker):

                          > Thin Tortillas are soaked in Salt Water to loosen up the "skin"

                          > A thin layer of "skin" is peeled from the surface

                          > The peeled, wet tortillas are then layed out to dry... preferably under sun light

                          > Once they are dry & sufficiently aged... they can then be deep fried in high quality pork lard

                          In the Shangri La of the Tostada world (Jalisco Highlands, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Southeastern Zacatecas)... places that specialize in Tostadas all make their own & you are rarely served something that was fried more than 10 minutes ago.

                          Tacos Dorados as prepared throughout Central Mexico... from Jalisco to Puebla... are simply fresh, thin tortillas that are sauteed in oil to soften....then folded & put in hotter oil to crisp up a little bit... drained then stuffed with low fat vegetable fillings to keep that balance that is 'de rigor' in authentic Mexican cooking.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Yeah, like Eat_Nopal says, nothing like a tostada. I really wish that El Tapatio continued to do the excellent version they first had. Now it is not a good example. I was really addicted to these in the San Diego area, especially Juanita's in Encinitas.

                            You know, I see them from time to time in some of the divey Mexican places in the Bay Area, but I try to avoid fried food.

                            One of these days I'm going to try the fish durado's at Plaza Girabaldi. Never saw a fish version before.

                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                      No, I'm definitely not talking about flautas or taquitos. I know the difference; it seemed like most fried taco places I went to growing up used shredded beef, and on occasion ground beef.

                      I forgot to mention that La Perla in South San Francisco makes fried tacos as well. The boyfriend used to always get them. Their homemade tortillas served hot to your table are the best things there.

                      By the way, I love that you used ASStastic in your post. I thought I was the only one who used that word in my reviews (though admittedly, it's been awhile). :)

                      1. re: katya

                        I'm from So Cal myself and definitely know what you are talking about with the fresh fried tacos and shredded beef. I have a mean craving for them myself when I get to thinking about it-- like now. The best part is how the shredded beef edges get hit with the oil and crisp up, too. And then the cool lettuce and sour cream. Gah! If anyone has a rec for these in SF, let me know.

                        (Senor Peppers- RIP- used to do them like this, only with carne asada so you wouldn't get that fantastic "nest" of deep friend meat, but would get some crispy beef edge. It's what kept me coming back week after week!)

                        1. re: Chowsmurf

                          Ah yes... now I remember those. They are very common on the Children's Menu Section in all the Old School establishments in East L.A. (La Parilla, Ciro's, Tepeyac).... they are pretty much like a flauta except with a better meat to fried corn tortilla ratio. I haven't had one of those in 15 years!

                          1. re: Chowsmurf

                            Mmmm... crispy beef edge! I totally relate!