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Oct 12, 2007 09:17 PM

Oakland - Sinaloa Taco Trucks and Taqueria?

Located on the site of a former A&W drive-in, there are two trucks
- Mariscos Sinaloa (specializes in fish tacos, burritos, etc.)
- Sinaloa tacos (more traditional taco truck fare and meat-oriented)

There is also a taqueria with a sign Tacos Gorditas 2138 International Avenue. The only report was someone who tried a tamale and it was pretty bad. Anyone had anything else in the restaurant and how does it differ from the trucks?

There is a large parking lot and many shaded picnic tables.

Here are some comments from previous posts … any other recs or updates? I didn’t get a real feel for how Sinaloa compares with other taco trucks.

Recommended; ceviche de cameron, al pastor

OK: carne asada, al pastor

Skip: fish taco

Tacos were generously filled. The tortillas had good corn flavor.

The al pastor taco with green salsa was good a little spicier than some.

The carnitas taco was good

A carne asada burrito came with crema and cheese, which is usually extra on the other trucks. It was a good burrito, but not great. The rice was nicely moist; the carne asada doesn't add extra moisture. It seemed to have been assembled in such a way that there was salsa and crema at the ends, but the middle was drier and blander. The first bite and the last bite were the best!

The fish taco is a bargain but is not made in the Baja style: it's made from diced fried fish fillet and does not have the shredded cabbage or white sauce of the Baja style. Unlike most taco truck tacos which are only moderately spicy, this was liberally sprinkled with finely diced raw jalapenos. The fish was dry.

The ceviche de cameron (shrimp) tostada was pretty good. The shrimp was actually chunks of large prawns and had a good flavor and texture.

International Blvd and 26th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

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  1. I may have written that the fish tacos weren't Baja or any good. The fish tacos however are a bargain. Since that initial post I've been by quite a few times.

    It's not the best fish taco ever but for the price, ($1.25 each) it's very hard to beat. They seem to be pan or griddle fried and can be dry but the salsa compensate. I find you have to eat them there...taking them home kills them. I'd give them a solid 3 out of 5 stars for the taco itself, 4 considering price. For $5 bucks you can get very full.

    The carnitas is very good, on a taco only. Somehow the burrito doesn't mix well.

    1. I'm confused because I thought both trucks served fish tacos...? Despite going there about once a week for tacos, I've never actually paid any attention to their names -- I simply refer to them as 'the one on the left' and 'the one on the right'. I prefer the one on the right - especially when Juana is cooking - and their horchata tends to be creamier and not as cinnamony as the guys on the left.

      As rw noted, the fish taco should be skipped. Dry, white fish cubed and very lightly battered, edible with a good squeeze of lime and a little extra salsa, but really not worth the calories especially when you could be eating the al pastor which is on the spicy side but the sweet caramelized onions help to offset the heat. Haven't had their burritos only because I'm not a huge fan of burritos, but the seafood cocktail is good and full of chunks of ripe avocado, tomato, onion (I think, if not, you can definitely taste it in the broth), sweet shrimp, and surprisingly well-cooked octopus with a side of saltines. Not the best I've ever had and certainly the most expensive thing there at $9, but generous making it a good value. I don't know a lot about tortas and have only had a bite of one a friend bought from the one on the left. The only thing that really stood out was that it was pretty heavy on the mayonnaise.

      The best thing about the Sinaloa trucks? The one on the left stays open well after 11 and you can always ask them for a key to the restaurant bathroom.

      3 Replies
      1. re: adrienne156

        No, only the "truck on the right" (the uphill one on the east side of the parking lot) serves fish. The one closer to International is mammal only. Although the fish truck also serves other chordata, personally I've never tried anything else.

        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

          Mammal only..hahaha...PETA loves you. Figure in marine mammals and they'll be chasing you down in the street. So, is that the same as a mamivore?

        2. Oh, one more thing - Rw, did they have radishes? I was there last Tuesday and they said they were no longer serving them because it had become too expensive.

          1. Their al pastor is a bit tough and suffers from an overload of (I think) cayenne pepper. You can feel it in the back of your throat and a sip of horchata just makes it worse. I don't like the chipotle salsa they seem to douse their tacos with, so when I go, I ask them to leave it off. The carnitas taco from the truck on the left was tasty, but literally dripping with lard.

            2 Replies
            1. re: DezzerSF

              You say dripping with lard like that's a bad thing! ;-)

              When I was doing my survey it seemed like the cabeza was the really outstanding item at the left (nonseafood) truck.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Ha! Yes their carnitas is one of the best I've tried, but I guess only an occasional treat for me.

            2. I've been a big fan of the tortas from the meat truck for a long time. And almost always,
              only carnitas. Crispy/greasy/fried on a sizable roll with lettuce and tomato. Last
              week just for a change I tried the cabeza. Tender, beefy, tasty, and a substantial
              amount for $4. New favorite.

              These are my default Oakland taco trucks. There's parking, seating, bathroom, and
              most of the time a pretty great scene going on. They're at least as good as any
              others I've tried, easy to get to (take the 23rd exit east from 880 and when you get
              over the bridge to International, you're right there on 22nd). Plus despite the Sinaloa
              name, the surroundings are perfectly evocative of a dusty truckstop in a small town
              on some Zacatecas highway.

              16 Replies
              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                Names are usually meaningless... my understanding is that people in Sinaloa rarely eat Carnitas. Even among the authentic tasting / Real Mexican Food touting eateries in California... I find that they bear no resemblance to the eateries of their owners / cooks origins... there is very little regional / provincial affiliation or specialties. Insteads its almost like all the Taquerias, Trucks, Restaurants go together and came up with a compromise limited list from which all would build their menus.

                Maybe I am just cynical because my Friday foray to "Taqueria Los Altos de Jalisco" which I had hopes of providing at least a few rifts, specialties or touches that would really speak of the owner's provenance... turned out to be just another boring, Cal-Mex taqueria... with technically gifted Oaxacan cooks who imparted 0% of their own Sazon... resulting in a bland, but quite accepted & liked cuisine in a particularly mainstream, sub-urban neighborhood here in Santa Rosa.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  We should put together some kind of chowhound investor pool and hire some technically gifted Oaxacan cook to run a real Oaxcan restaurant. The market is crying out for one, but no one seems to want to take the risk of stepping away from the tried and true taqueria menu.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I couldn't agree more. Another idea is we could start a Chowhound supper club.... get together invest on some cooking equipment, rent an apartment & find talented cooks of interesting cuisine (whether immigrants or U.S. regional).

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      That sounds like fun, but I really think someone needs to open a real restaurant. Once they do, and it's a rousing success, then more people will be willing to try it. San Francisco is too expensive, but Oakland could easily support a mid-range Oaxacan restaurant. North Oakland already supports Dona Tomas and that place across the street, I bet a Oaxacan restaurant somewhere on Telegraph (amidst all the Ethiopian and Korean places) would do just fine. It's not as if there isn't a critical mass of (a) foodies, and (b) people who've lived in Mexico or spent lots of time there who know there's more to Mexican food than tacos and tequila!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Agreed about the Oaxacan restaurant!

                        Now does anybody know where to find really good chiles rellenos? I mean ones that aren't made with canned Fresno chiles and covered with tomato soup. I've never ordered them at Dona Tomas, but I wasn't that impressed with the food otherwise and don't want to spend the big bucks to take a chance on their c.r.s

                        I've even had lots of bad food prepared by people who were supposed to be really good cooks and who were Mexican. It's certainly naive to think that just because somebody is from someplace they know how to cook. They've been brainwashed by the deluge of Taco Bells, Del Taco, etc., etc., just like we have.

                        But a place on Telegraph would be great.

                        1. re: oakjoan

                          I have yet to find good chiles rellanos, I gave up.
                          My last memorable was in D.F -chiles en nogada at a Independence Celebration.. with a walnut cream sauce and topped pomegranates..

                          1. re: Lori SF

                            I little closer than D.F. -- try Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo in Watsonville (lots of posts on the California board). The best chile rellenos of all time, and I believe the do a chiles en nogada like the version you describe as well. If that restaurant were in the greater Bay Area, it would be famous!

                            Maybe time for another chowdown there ....

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              RL love you this inspires me to go see my client in Santa Cruz!

                              1. re: Lori SF

                                Absolutely. Take your client to lunch so you can try more dishes!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  link- thanks Ruth
                                  Fiesta-Tepa-Sahuayo Fiesa-
                                  15 1st St
                                  Watsonville, CA 95076

                                  15 1st St, Watsonville, CA

                                  1. re: Lori SF

                                    If Tepa Sahuayo doesn't work out for you.... I recommend Tacomiendo in West L.A.... their Oaxacan style Chile Relleno (with epazote in the tomato calidillo is killer.... make sure to ask for the $3 side order instead of the plate).

                    2. re: Ruth Lafler

                      seriously, there is that spot on Telegraph it looks like a retro drive thru, 60's style, I think it is call STEELE or something like that orange and white very cool if it was cleaned up and made into a mexican spot, amazing!

                      There is a group of us on here that have a passion for this food and many many more out there. The chowteam is going to be mad at us, this thread will be going away soon. Sorry chowteam!

                      1. re: Lori SF

                        Are you talking about Steele's? That was a dive shop for years. As in scuba diving.

                        1. re: wally

                          YES!! I love the facade and design of that building. When I lived in Oakland I would drive by and dream of keeping the original facade and integrity of the building but add on and make it a cool restaurant/ there is plenty of parking. So since I am not in the food business but design it was only a fantasy.

                          Good catch wally!

                    3. re: Eat_Nopal

                      EN, I have the utmost respect for your knowledge of Mexican food, but where did you hear that people in Sinaloa rarely eat carnitas? My SO is from there and he's been following this post as he's really the one who introduced me to these trucks and says that is completely untrue...

                      1. re: adrienne156

                        One of my buddies is from Culiacan... when he started college his mother moved back... and on one of my college era summer trips I spent a week there with them.

                        One day at a Taqueria... I was laughed at for asking if they had Carnitas. I remember the guy telling something like... Aqui solamente la Machaca triunfa, Compa... more or less translates to Homeboy... this is Machaca territory (in Culiacan... the marinade the dried beef in a spicy chile paste & then fry it up.. resulting in a deliciously crunchy & greasy delight). They explained to me that only tourists go to Mazatlan to eat carnitas.