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Jan 2, 2006 03:53 PM

Al Pastor Tacos

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Any leads for Al Pastor tacos prepared on the vertical spit, trucks and/or sitdown, East Bay-SF-Marin county. Thanks

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  1. Taqueria San Jose on International Blvd in Oakland.

    8 Replies
    1. re: DezzerSF
      Robert Lauriston

      Or Taqueria San Jose in SF at 2830 Mission St. (near 24th).

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Or Taqueria San Jose in San Rafael on Fourth Street near Lincoln.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Second Taqueria San Jose on Mission. Their tacos are stellar in general.

        2. re: DezzerSF

          The last couple of times I got al pastor tacos at Taqueria San Jose on International Blvd, I haven't been that impressed. They were alright, but nothing exciting flavor wise. My favorite is still El Gordo #2 across the street from the BK on International. They always have the right mix of juicy and crunch bits and strong spicy flavor that is missing from San Jose.

          1. re: IanW

            I'll admit TSJ used to be better before. It can be hit or miss now. I'll have to try El Gordo now that you've mentioned it.

            Mi Pueblo's taqueria does a really good al pastor, about as good as I remember TSJ being.

            I tried the Sinaloa truck last night after the A's game. Their pastor was VERY spicy.

            1. re: DezzerSF

              I swear by Taco Sinaloa, but which truck did you try? I prefer the seasoning at the truck on the right - especially when Juana's cooking :o) - but was surprised to find that the guys on the left actually make their tacos perfectly crisp when asked. A lot of times, the one on the right fries them hard.

              1. re: adrienne156

                I tried the one on the 23rd Ave side, not on the International side. Would that be the right? I don't remember the tortillas being fried though, just plain soft corn tortillas.

                Are the tacos there usually that spicy (hot)? Is it from the salsa or the pastor spices?

                1. re: DezzerSF

                  Yup, that's the one on the right.

                  They always heat up the tortillas on the greasy griddle - if they were soft, they just didn't fry them long enough. You have to ask if you want them crispier. ..And as to their spiciness, it must have been a spicy batch of pastor. Their salsa tends to have some heat, but not enough to really notice since they put it on all of their tacos.

                  ...Now I've gone and done it. I'm going to have to go get some for lunch.

        3. El Gordo taco truck -- parked on International at 42nd (Oakland) only on weekends and after six on weekdays, but open late (3 am).

          I believe that the taqueria side of Otaez (International at 39th) also has a spit of pastor.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            I also highly recommend Otaez on International Blvd in Oakland. So far the best al pastor tacos I've had in the U.S.

          2. Depending on how far east you want to go, Mercado del Valle, at 1651 Monument in Concord, has great spitted al pastor. They slice it off fresh for almost every order, and it has those crunchy well done bits mixed with the tender inner bits of porky goodness. The best way, IMHO, is to have it as a taco, with onion, cilantro, and some of their good salsa. The other meats, beans, and rice are okay, but the pastor really shines.

            They also have a good butcher section, with marinated al pastor (and other meats) ready to go if you have a spit of your own.

            1. An interesting, non-obvious source of decent pastor is Burritoville on Magnolia Ave. (next to the theater) in Larkspur.

              This is an otherwise pretty ordinary white-bread burrito shop, but I have now had their pastor tacos three times and really enjoyed the crunchy goodness and porky flavor.

              It's definitely not the $1 taco scenario, but good flavor with their hot salsa.

                  1. re: susancinsf

                    Um, yes? What do you mean? How are you defining spit? It looks like that picture Melanie provided.

                    Don't know enough about the subject? I will say I wasn't wild about it ... gringo al pastor ... but others might have other opinions ... so I threw it in there.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Tacubaya has a vertical rotating spit like gyros, right?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Uh, yeah .. .is there a difference ... really ... my experinece is ... metal pole with attached meat.

                        1. re: rworange

                          rw, Two reasons, w/ the 'authentic for Al Pastor' vert spit, the juices flow down and further flavor the meat and prob just as important, esp for the cook, the vert spit makes it easier to slice and catch the meat w/ the handheld tortilla. At my favorite place for Al Pastor in Tecate, it's fun to watch the guy slice, catch, assemble and plate 4-5 per min at 50 cents a pop! All the taco places I've been to up and down Baja use the vert spit. Takes up less floorspace too.

                          1. re: Bookmark

                            Interesting to know why this is preferred. Cool ... but doesn't it just mean meat on a metal stick as opposed to marinated pork that is roasted or baked? What does 'spit' mean otherwise?

                            Tacubaya has a vertical gyro-type hunk of meat on a metal pole with a pineapple or maybe orange on top that they slice meat off. That was what I meant when I origianally said they had al pastor on a spit. That is my idea of what it means. Is there a different type of meat on a stick? Is 'spit' defined in another way? I'm now having visions of a spit pit or something.

                            1. re: rworange

                              Same seasoned pork without the spit is often called adobada.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                You know, I have had adobado/a and I didn't make the connection that the meat was the same as al pastor- I have had what seemed to be a tenderized slab of pork marinated in slightly citrusy chipotle/pepper paste. I think part of it is that I am not certain what exactly goes into al pastor besides peppers of some kind, and that I haven't noticed adobado on menus around here.

                              2. re: rworange

                                RW... is the meat cooking while gyrating.... or do they cook it elsewhere and then put it on a metal pole to help slice it?

                                To your other question... yes a Spit can be defined as a pit. Don't know if you ever went Cerro de la Cilla, or El Diplomatic when you worked in Mexico City but there they do Cabrito (Monterrey style roasted kid) which is traditionally done as a whole Kid (suckling goat) on a Horizontal slow rotating stick / bar over a flame & smoke... all in an open pit.... and the whole thing is also referred to as a Spit.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  2nd the Tacubaya el pastor, definite verticallity going on there with their spit. Tasty stuff, but I love a few of the trucks in Napa also, though can't confirm the meat came from a spit.

                              3. re: rworange

                                Some places sell griddled pork (basically fajitas) as "al pastor," that's why people ask if there's a spit.