Oakland (Fruitvale) Burrito Showdown
Four friends and I gathered together last night for a Frutivale five burrito showdown. We usually hit up El Ojo de Agua about once a week. Their burritos are the best that we've found in the neighborhood, and it's well-worth the trek from the confines of Rockridge to get some mind-blowingly amazing burritos. But we often forget that El Ojo is but one taqueria amidst many in Fruitvale, so we decided to give some of the others a try. We ordered a regular al pastor burrito from each place, hold the sour cream. We took the burritos home, cut 'em up and we all sampled our finds.
3872 International Blvd
El Rincon Jarocho
(Formerly El Ojo de Agua restaurant, across from El Otaez)
3646 International Blvd
Taqueria San Jose
3433 International Blvd
El Ojo de Agua (truck
)12th St./Fruitvale Ave.
El Otaez got dinged for too much meat (and chewy, boo). Their burrito also had pineapple in it, which seemed to overpower the meat flavor, rather than accompany it. It just wasn't that great. (Also, its horchata got bad reviews too.)
El Rincon had sliced onions, which were a nice touch, but the meat was overall pretty boring, and they included sour cream, when we specifically asked (in Spanish) to not include. We weren't that impressed. (That said, we found out that the owner used to work at El Ojo and has kept that menu and added a bunch of Veracruz plates, which seemed to be what everyone else was getting. We'll have to go back to sample some of the seafood dishes.)
El Farolito's burrito got points for including bits of a whole avocado, but we all felt that its taste was too "clean," when compared with El Ojo or San Jose. There wasn't much interestingness to the texture of the filling, nor the meat. That said, everything else was very solid.
Taqueria San Jose, by contrast, had crispy meat that was clear that it had been cooked twice. That texture alone was what we realized we'd been missing from all the other ones. The spiced pork danced in our mouths and it was well-balanced with beans and rice. (Our resident Latina, Monica, quipped that she really wanted San Jose's meat in a Farolito burrito.) There remained some discussion as to which would be the appropriate number two.
El Ojo de Agua, by contrast, remained the champion. There just isn't a match for its consistently delicious fullness, balanced spice, and completely delicious meat. The melted cheese, the beans, the rice, everything comes together in a concoction of utterly satisfying proportions. And did I mention that it's only $4.25? (Monica said that none of these beat her longtime East Bay favorite, burritos from Chavez Market in Hayward.)
Photos are here: http://flickr.com/photos/cfarivar/tag...
I went on a mini taco crawl myself today. I tried El Ojo de Agua's al pastor taco and didn't like it. The pork pieces were crispy on the outside, but the pieces were so small, the crispy bits overwhelmed the meat itself. The pastor flavor didn't jump out at me like TSJ's does, and the standard guacamole was more of a distraction than a good addition. I would much rather taste the onions, and didn't really on this taco. Tacos are $1.25 and are served on the smaller sized corn tortillas.
Mi Pueblo, the new supermarket on High St, has a taqueria as well. Their pastor flavor was very, very close to TSJ's, maybe slightly oilier. The $1.25 "small" taco was simply topped with onions and cilantro, just the way I like it. Only thing missing was the free chips and salsa bar, which only Taqueria San Jose provides.
The $1.85 "bigger" taco al pastor at Taqueria San Jose does it for me.
The burriots at chavez are wonderful i reccomend the pastor burritos there, as resident latina on the burrito test i still love chavez overall but have confirmed my love for Ojo de Agua.
I second sarvey on the meat from the butcher , also the butcher is wear you can get different fresh chesses by weight. The soups are wondeful caldo de res is my fave and its available everyday not just weekends like the menudo and posole
As far as I know they dont carry atole but I have always thought that to be sesonal
Excellent report. I do volunteer work near there on Saturdays and always stop at the El Ojo de Agua truck for a stellar breakfast burrito but last weekend I strayed and got a regular meat burrito - it was awesome.
The thing I love about TSJ is their salsa bar and their trully excellent green salsa.
There's other place on Int'l on my regular rotation I go but I don't remember its name - Mariscos...something? Its near Oteaz but on the other side of the street, has a parking lot, they've got a walkup window and outdoor tables - anyway I tend to get tacos & quesodillas from them.
Yea! I've finally found another Chavez lover! Monica is right. People, go there now.
At Otaez I usually get their carnitas and chicarrones by the pound on the weekends. And at San Jose the al pastor burrito and the chile relleno. I'll have to try El Ojo now. Thanks for the rundown! Oh and let me guess, the biggest burrito was from TSJ, right?
Well thanks for asking hhc!
I love the carnitas. I usually buy a pound to go and have a taco or two while I'm there. They also have a good chile rellenos and ceviche tostadas that I like alot though it isn't the best ceviche I've had. I've noticed alot of customers ordering the big bowls of soups. Finally, I'm always intrigued by their special plate deals; they usually have photos of the specials taped up to the counter. I like their aguas frescas b/c they are not too sweet. I did not like the tres leches cake.
I've also bought seasoned meat, salsa verde, and queso fresco in the butchers case at the back. Take it home and fire up your grill. It's about that time, no?
Would like to hear others opinions once they make it out there.