Vallejo At $1.25 per Taco - TheTaco Truck Crawl
Vallejo is home to a plethora of taco trucks. During my last two months or so of this crawl, I noted a total of 14 total taco trucks, and there may be a few more in some crevices of the town that I may not have found yet.
On this crawl, I managed to hit eight of the fourteen trucks; I have noted the locations of the other six in case anyone wants to venture and sample their offerings.
All the taco trucks seemed to have all the usual offerings of tacos, burritos, tortas, etc. All tacos were $1.25 each save for one exception (the taco de birria at Tacos Jalisco); onions and cilantro were standard. Standard sides for all the trucks included a slice of lime and radishes.
Tacos Guadalajara and Tacos Dos Hermanos are the two best trucks that I sampled. As for the tacos overall, there were definitely a few highlights and lowlights which I note, but overall the tacos were generally good and fairly similar in taste and quality.
Tacos Guadalajara - corner of Ohio & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29)
Tacos Sampled - Carnitas, Buche, Pastor, Lengua
Also Available - Asada, Cabeza, Pollo, Sesos & Tripas
Comments - The best pastor of the bunch! No hot sauce needed here; it's that spicy good. If I had to choose one taco to eat out of this group repeatedly, this would be the one hands down. Every other pastor was at least a notch below this version (the other trucks' versions were all pretty good but somewhat samey). Very good carnitas (lots of crispy parts) and lengua tacos as well.
Additional Sides - green onion & jalapeño slices. Hot sauce on the side if you ask.
Ambience - nice for a taco truck: two tables & chairs set underneath a big, shady tree. The truck is set next to an auto repair business.
Misc. - They do have horchata, but my version was somewhat powdery.
Tacos Dos Hermanos - corner of Sereno & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29)
Tacos Sampled - Pastor, Asada, Carnitas, Buche
Also Available - Pollo, Cabeza, Lengua, Sesos & Tripas
Comments - Veebee posted a thread on this taco truck not too long ago. The big distingusher these tacos bring to the table are nicely smoky pinto beans added to the usual mix of fillings, cilantro, onions, etc.
The buche taco was really good; the carnitas taco was also porky and tasty, despite the lack of crispy parts.
Additional Sides - Best selection of sides of the group: green onions, sliced jalapeños, onions, hot sauces & a crispy jalapeño mix; I've found what you get automatically and what you have to ask for depends, however.
Ambience - Two picnic benches in the parking lot of a furniture store. The eucalyptus trees next to them may or may not provide shade, depending on the time of day.
Tacos Juanitas - corner of Broadway & Marine World Pkwy
Tacos Sampled - Cabeza, Carnitas, Chicharron, Chile Verde, Pastor
Also Available - Asada, Buche (on weekends only), Lengua & Pollo
Comments - The best of the rest truck-wise. Good versions of everything I sampled, but nothing knock your socks off in nature. The chicharron taco did kick Taco Jalisco's version to the curb (crispy and tasty, as opposed to the somewhat stale tasting chicharrones that Jalisco had in theirs.)
Additional Sides - if you order it to go, hot sauce is given. If you eat it there, there's a help yourself area which includes green and red hot sauces in squeeze bottles, a pretty good chunky salsa, and a good jalapeño mix.
Ambience - The truck sits inside a sometimes dusty fenced off lot of a construction business. Three tables with chairs are set up underneath a metal shade. On certain days, a vendor selling Latin CD's is also on the premises.
Misc. - This place used to get a ton of business when Highway 37 was routed on Marine World Pkwy. Now with much-anticipated Hwy 37 freeway bypass completed and functioning, business seems to have fallen off considerably (Marine World Parkway doesn't even run by its namesake anymore.)
Tacos Mexico - Yardbirds Hardware parking lot (66 Admiral Callaghan Ln)
Tacos Sampled - Cabeza, Carnitas, Lengua, Pastor
Also Available - Asada, Pollo, Sesos & Tripas
Comments - Good tacos overall, but the fillings are a tad overcooked. It worked with the carnitas, which gave the crispy parts a nice feathery texture, but not so good with the pastor, which made it crispy and somewhat tough.
Additional Sides - Radish, whole jalapeño; you have to ask for hot sauces (the red sauce is especially hot; the green one has quite a bite to it as well)
Ambience - Call it drive-in dining; when things are busy, cars are lined up as if the taco truck were the movie screen at a drive-in theater. No tables or chairs to be found.
Misc. - If you want a quick bite on the way up to Fairfield and beyond on I-80 East, this place is pretty easy to get in and out of. Just take the Tennessee Blvd. west offramp and the truck will just to the left in the lot directly in front of you at the stop sign.
La Perla De Jalisco - Vallejo Farmers Market (Marin & Georgia Sts; Saturdays only)
Tacos Sampled - Cabeza, Carnitas, Pastor
Also Available - Asada, Lengua, Pollo
Comments - Cabeza taco was the best of the bunch I sampled; carnitas had a good mix of crispy parts but was a little bit tough and chewy.
Additional Sides - a sampling of jalapeño mix and hot sauce
Ambience - a table with chairs is available. The truck is in a "food court" of sorts with other farmers market food vendors.
Misc. - after these tacos, I couldn't help but sample some of the wares of a new vendor advertising "Filipino delights" nearby. The lumpias were really long and tasty with an excellent sweet and tangy dipping sauce, and the empanadas (a Filipino piroshki of sorts) were also large and tasty, with a filling of ground beef, potatoes, carrots, and raisins. A sampling platter for $8.50 was also available, which included adobo, jasmine rice, a lumpia and dipping sauce, and an empanada.
Tacos Jalisco - Broadway & Texas St
Tacos Sampled - Birria, Carnitas, Chicarron & Pastor
Also Available - Asada, Cabeza, Pollo, Sesos & Tripas
Comments - Decent tacos. They don't offer it all the time, but the Birria taco ($1.50 ea) is the best of the bunch - nicely smoky with a hint of spicyness.)
Additional Sides - Radish, green onion, jalapeños and hot sauce (but you have to ask; the lady will say "anything else?" right before handing over your order - that's when you make your request.)
Ambience - The only truck with indoor seating available (the space is attached to a Mexican market on the property.)
Misc. - The birria and pastor pairing of tacos I sampled left a grease slick that soaked the cardboard container they were sitting in in mere minutes. Also, don't bother asking for the horchata; though it's on the menu, they never had it the three times I was there.
Tacos Ensenada - 5th Ave & Solano Ave.
Tacos Sampled: Carnitas, Pastor
Also Available: Asada, Cabeza, Lengua & Pollo
Comments - The truck that started off the crawl. The texture and taste of the carnitas in the two tacos strangely reminded me of Filipino lechon (roasted pig) - it made me wish I had some lechon liver sauce in hand LOL. The carnitas I had during a second visit was better, but neither it nor the pastor taco inspired me to try this place thrice.
Additional Sides - Carrots; I didn't ask for hot sauce, though I did notice some hot sauce packets on the ground and in the garbage can
Ambience - a table and chairs in the parking lot of a divey-looking bar (Club Oasis). I guess a beer is always an option after some taco truck samplings here.
Misc. - The horchata was the best thing I had here (nicely refreshing, but I'm sure there are better out there.)
Tacos La Hacienda - Benicia Road & Lemon Blvd
Tacos Sampled: Carnitas, Lengua, Pastor
Also Available: Asada, Pollo
Comments - The nicest, friendliest vendor I met, but the truck is pretty bare bones in offerings and the tacos are nothing to write home about. Best of the bunch was the lengua, which had a nicely buttery texture. The tortillas were flimsy, though, tearing fairly easily.
Additional Sides - None (but I didn't ask in this case.)
Ambience - None. The truck is in the lot of a liquor store, whose recently repainted walls were already marked up with some gang graffiti. I wouldn't stay parked there...
Other taco trucks seen but not sampled:
Tacos Mi Jalisco
Central Av & Solano Av (next to Billar Los Portales)
Tacos Dos Hermanos #2
Indiana & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29) (First USA Gas Station)
#1 Taqueria Ensenada
Maple Av & Springs Rd (Shoe Hospital parking lot)
Tacos Los Plebes
Curtola Pkwy & Sonoma Blvd (Hwy 29) (Chevron Gas Station)
La Perla de Jalisco #2
10 Broadway St (where Alameda St. curves into Broadway; Maher's Market parking lot)
Broadway & Tuolumne (next to David's Grill & Karaoke)
Wow. Such a comprehensive write-up!
The only thing I have to ad to this excellent report, would be that the Carnitas Tortas at Tacos Mexico (Yardbirds) are also great!
They're on a Columbo sandwich roll, but they're grilled and pressed non-the-less, and easy to overlook this "minor" fault.
They're still delicious, and better then others in the area on the "authentic" boillio rolls.
They're a bit more expensive at $2.75, but they're about three tacos worth of meat, plus a bag with chips and salsa included... not a bad deal at all.
Great report and I finally printed it out tonight to keep in the car tommorrow along with Melanie's ramen list and the Chowhound guide.
I actually wished I had it today. I tried the pastor taco at a new Mexican place in Crockett. I can at this point tell a good carnitas taco, but not so sure about pastor. Was going to go to Valejo to compare with Tacos Guadalajara ... but couldn't remember the name. Rats. I hate that. Next time I'll have the list.
On the good side, I wound up trying out a new Richmond taqueria. The pastor tacos were wildly different in taste and texture, but both tasty in their way. However, next time I'm in Vallejo, I'll have to try Tacos Guadalajara. I always suspected they were one of the better trucks based on the crowds. Thanks for confirming that.
Thank you SJ for the hint about the tortas.
Let us know, rw. On a suggestion, I recently went to Taqueria San Jose in the Mission after the Bridge to Bridge run to sample their freshly cut pastor tacos - their pastor outdid the taco truck versions (or any other pastor I've sampled, for that matter) in terms of texture and richness in taste, and I'd go back again if I was in the mood for pastor and in the neighborhood. But in terms of spiciness, Guadalajara's is so far the one that I've tried that stands out.
In a related note, there are actually a ton of taquerias that have opened and reopened up along that Sonoma Blvd/Hwy 29 corridor recently, and I definitely want to sample some pastor from them (after I've recovered from this crawl LOL.)
And thank you SJ for the hint about the tortas at Tacos Mexico.
Finally got around to trying the truck at the corner of Sonoma Blvd and Ohio in Vallejo last night. Glad to report the reviews above are still solid. Both the al pastor and carnitas were fabulous. Asada was good, too, but not spectacular like the others. I've been carting this post around for a while, and after last night figured its worth an update and a bump.