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Talavera Taqueria (New), Berkeley

I doubt they had been open an hour when I arrived. The place looked cleaner and more appealing. There are lunch menus out, which have a nice selection of traditional-looking dishes (no paper to-go menus yet, so I'm unable to give much detail). The menus are more like for a sit-down order at the table restaurant, but it is stand up/pay, sit down with a number service.

I had a carnitas plate lunch. The carnitas were very good - a tad too salty for my taste, but probably just perfect for most people. These were served with beans (standard, nothing special - I had whole beans), tortillas (choice of flour or corn - I had corn - standard, nothing special), and salad/pickled vegetables. Hot fried chips are offered when you pay. The salsa bar only had one very mild but tasty salsa out - I asked if there was anything hotter, and I received a nice spicy green salsa. They were still setting up a lot of things, and there was room for several salsas/condiments on the salsa bar.

The staff was nice - a little nervous, but nice. I don't know if it is cash only or not. I noticed the register said "Montero's Cafe" on the screen, so I wonder if it owned by the same folks, or just a "borrowed or used" register.

I'll go back again, as I am in that block every day, and they had tamales and mole on the menu.

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  1. It is now owned by the same guy that owns Montrero's. I would anticipate the food will be really similar as I have found little variation in each of his ventures.

    1. did you happen to take note of the hours of operation?

        1. re: chemchef

          on solano, cross street peralta (i think).

        2. The pork pilbil at old-owner Talavera was very, very good. It's a shame all my previous experiences there were poisoned by the presence of the nasty female owner. I'm hoping that this new incarnation will rise above the level of "local burrito and tamale joint" and give some fresh and tasty offerings different from Montero's. After all, that's only a short distance away and has better seating.

          1. I ate there too last night. They say you should never eat in a place the first night. It was confirmed. Because of your complaint that there was only one salsa the industrial blender was running, making salsa nearly the entire time we ate. The layout of the place with a grill in front and oven in back means you are surrounded with industrial exhaust hood fans. Even with only 5 diners it was too noisy to hear. Everything was way too salty, and I like things too salty. The portion of guacamole and chips we ordered had to be 3 or 4 avocados worth, but too salty. The staff was very nice. I hope they can get it together and I will try it again in a month or two.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Curmudgeon

              Well, at least there was salsa for everyone! I'm the wrong one to ask about "too salty" but maybe someone should say something. The layout is bad for ordering at the register and then sitting down the way things are set up. I laughed when I read your post because I've never been blamed for causing a near-kitchen-shutdown to make sure that there was enough salsa to satiate all of Solano Ave.

            2. I've been there twice now since reading your post. pretty good experiences both times. There's plenty of salsa now...all of them pretty good. a hot chipotle, mild guacamole salsa, med roasted one, and a medium verde salsa. with plenty of pickled and roasted jalapenos.

              I had the carnitas plate as well today, which was very good, though i agree with you that the beans and salad were nothing special.

              yesterday though i had the taquitos de plaza. basically, three tacos on 2 soft corn tortillas each. And that was excellent. They let you pick which meat you want for each among a choice of 6 different meat options. I had the chorizo, shredded beef and carnitas. All of which were very tasty and savory. the chorizo had a little bite to it, and a tad salty for my taste, but still good. The meat seemed of good quality to me, though I didn't ask where they sourced it. And it was very reasonable. The 3 tacos I believe were around $6.50. I asked for a to go menu so I could post up more details, but they didn't have any printed yet.

              Service was very friendly, and the food came out fast. They were still training one of the folks behind the counter but it worked out just fine. They typically have 4 types of frescas behind the counter to choose from and several desserts as well. I think this can easily become a new favorite lunch spot. I hope they set up some more seats outside for the summer.

              1. Carnitas sandwich tonight on Mexican style bread, which doesn't hold up to sogginess. Super-tasty meat, cotija cheese, lettuce tomato (chopped) and onions with chips (tasted fresh-made) and salsa. Delicious if super messy, but took a long time to come out. $6.95

                1. Dinner last night, eaten in the little park next to Talavera since we had the dog with us: me: mole poblano, husband sopes with carnitas, black beans, cotija cheese and salad. Both dishes with rice, plentiful food, delicious + one bottle water, shared: $18.35.

                  Only hope they speed up the process of getting the food out.

                  1. I had the carnitas plate from here for lunch today. The carnitas themselves were ok, but a little dry for my taste. None of the over salting that others have described, but I do like salt. The refried beans were really flat tasting and I actually salted them, a first in my book. The little salad on the plate was nice with very tasty pickled peppers on top. The presentation of the entire plate, while very simple, was very appealing. The corn tortillas appeared and tasted similar to those you buy in a grocery store (thin, dry, not good). The two salsa's I tried were good, but nothing special.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SLRossi

                      We had black beans (a.k.a. white people beans) and the carnitas weren't dry--maybe yours weren't as fresh made? I have to admit I got flour tortillas (a.k.a. white people tortillas.)

                    2. Was back there again earlier this week and had their chimichanga with the spicy shredded beef. Wow, that was a tasty beef, and it was probably the least greasy chimichanga I've ever had and it's served on a bed of salad with beans and rice on the side.

                      My friend ordered their pork tamales a la carte and beef enchilada plate, (it was a lot more than what she was expecting). She thought the enchilada was great, it was huge and covered in cheese and couldn't stop grinning about it. On the other hand, the tamale was somewhat of a disappointment. Too dry and a bit bland.

                      On a side note, I really like the bright tiling work on the walls of the restaurant, it adds a lot of character.

                      1. For what it's worth, I had the vegetarian burrito last night (not necessarily how most judge a place). Rice, black beans, cheese, guac, sour cream, hot sauce (I requested no lettuce or salsa fresca).

                        It was great - nice ratio of ingredients, and no problems with over-salting. It will be my go-to-close-to-home burrito fix. Next time I will add nopales to it. The freshly made chips are delicious, and they had four salsas to choose from (mild salsa fresca, medium salsa verde, medium roasted red, and spicy red). The medium verde and spicy red are my favorites. And the staff was extremely friendly.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: megek

                          Just went there for lunch today for the first time. The sudden heat wave we're having had me craving something cool-ish, so I went for the Carnitas Tostada (small, $6.50) and an Arnold Palmer. I have to say this was one of the best tostadas I've had in a long time. Very fresh mixed salad greens with large shreds of tender carnitas atop a crispy corn tortilla with a layer of refried beans. All garnished with mexican crema, and large chunks of avocado (I think there was more, but I can't remember now). I drizzled some of the spicy red sauce from the salsa bar on top and it was really delicious. With the complimentary chips and salsa bar, it was a truly satisfying lunch for under $10, and fast too. I'll definitely be back.

                        2. On our way to Cactus on a hot October evening we snagged a parking spot in front of a very empty Talavera. My son is a diehard Gordo fan and I wasn't expecting much based on a few mediocre meals at Monteros. Pleasantly surprised by the tasty offerings. We had a carne asada burrito (huge), a small vegetarian tostada (fresh and flavorful) and the assorted 3 taquitos (all dressed with a smoky mole(?) sauce. Most parties came in for takeout. Friendly service behind the counter. We'll come again compared to the uneven service at Cactus.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: bunnysitter

                            We really like the chicken Chimichanga with avocado green salso. And the veggie scramble for breakfast is good. Breakfast is available weekdays, which is nice.

                            1. re: oaktowngirl

                              Just checked the map link. I guess I've been once. It was good, quality ingredients but I don't remember much more.

                              Taqueria Talavera
                              1561 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707