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Oakland - Taqueria Durango – Mexican BBQ ribs & chicken

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Disappointed at my failed attempt to eat at Taqueria el Maguey (wholesale only), I thought I’d try Taqueria Durango down the street a ways.

The oil drums with BBQ chickens and ribs on the grill, caught my attention once before.

There are other standard items on the menu (burritos, tacos, sopes), but I’m guessing the thing to order here is the BBQ. I’m glad I only found the East Bay Express review after the fact. I liked the place more and the food was better. Maybe they read the review and did something about it.

The 1 / 2 chicken plate comes with either potato salad or cactus salad and four griddled corn tortillas, wrapped in a napkin and served in a straw basket.

The chicken was almost as the review described

“The skin, flecked with blackened herbs … Underneath, the meat had taken on a pinkish-brown cast from the smoke.”

When the chicken is ready, it is put in a glass case under heat lamps. As a result, the skin wasn’t crispy. I didn’t learn until afterward that you can ask to have the chicken or ribs direct from the grill and point out the chick/rib that looks the most appealing. That’s the way to go.

The chicken was hacked into pieces, a little oily from the marinade, I’m guessing. Lately when I see hacked up chicken, I start to search for the chopsticks ... oops .. wrong ethnicity.

Unlike the chicken described in the review, mine wasn’t tough. It wasn’t juicy, but I have yet to have a BBQ chicken anywhere that was juicy. It was tasty and especially good if you put a little of the thick, smoky, hot red sauce that came in a little ceramic pot.

There’s a choice of potato salad or cactus salad. One more time, the EBE describes the cactus salad perfectly:

“The nopales salad, a tangle of sliced onions and cactus strips, was tender and free of that mucilaginous, okra-like mouthfeel. It was dressed with olive oil, fresh oregano, and a jolt of lime juice:

There were also some tomatoes in the salad and it was definitely not salty which was a complaint in the review. Maybe they really did read it. The tortillas were nicely grilled and didn’t fall apart.

The ribs, it seems, are just left on the grill until someone orders a slab ($14). Then someone goes out and retrieves a thick slab and hauls it back to the kitchen.

There’s beer and aqua fresca. The mango was ok with a little too much sugar.

Hot links are also available. Other meats for tacos or burritos include: carne asada, al pastor, carnitas (also sold by the pound), cabeza, molida (?), chicharonnes, lengua and, of course, pollo.

A steady stream of customers stopped by for the ribs or chicken.

Nothing special in décor, most of it done by beer company advertisements, but nice ones. The Christmas beer ads were out, in keeping with the season. There was a fake paper fireplace decorated with stockings by one company and a big display of the Bud Clydesdales decked out for Christmas and pulling a sleigh.

There were a few gum ball machines and two impressive running stand-alone fountains. One fountain was a mountain of gold miners panning the flowing water for gold. Cable Mexican TV was playing silently (that Mexican Jenny Jones chick) and occasionally the juke box played … “To all the girls I loved before” … in Spanish and with passion.

There’s a parking lot. It’s a rough neighborhood though. There’s a Chinese restaurant down the street that is too aptly named “Ho Ho’s”.

Whenever I'm in the area of Fruitvale and International, I'm surprised how like the area is to parts of Mexico City, only the signs here are in English ... well, some of them. So maybe I like this place out of nostalgia. It reminds of of so many hole in the wall places I ate at while working there ... simply decent, tasty food. Nothing amazing, but good.

Well, the EBE answered my question about the other chicken place on Foothill - Los Petates

Taqueria Durango
(510) 536-6486
3829 Foothill Blvd (at about 38th)
Oakland, CA 94601

Hours:
Tue.-Sun : 8:00 a.m-7:00 p.m.

Link: http://www.google.com/local?q=cache:v...

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  1. New address:

    Taqueria Durango
    3601 Foothill Blvd
    Oakland, CA 94601
    (510) 536-6486
    http://www.mapquest.com/places/taquer...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      I stopped by this weekend, intending to order the carnitas and beans mentioned in this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9715...
      but got sidetracked by the pork ribs, after asking what was on BBQ. I'm glad I did--I've found it difficult to get non-gloopy sauced ribs in the area and these were just what I was looking for. They are tender, but not falling off the bone and the spice rub really just emphasizes the porkiness. It's served with a hot sauce (mostly ground peppers, slightly bitter, not very sour). They aren't lo, slow, competition BBQ-they don't take on that much smoke flavor, and are probably cooked at medium temp for not too long. The side of beans I got didn't have any noticeable smoky character, but were delicious.