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May 16, 2006 12:15 AM

Berkeley - Gallegos Mexican Food – Monday sopa de albondigas

  • r

Gee, talk about a restaurant with nada about it on the web. I have passed this place for the 8 years it has been in business and never noticed it. Gallegos is on San Pablo mid-way between Sea Salt and Jack in the Box.

The meatball soup was pretty neutral and needed the chopped onion, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of lemon. I supplemented the lime with an entire lemon at home. The stock was not de-fatted.

There were four large meatballs with potatoes and large slices of celery and sweet carrots. The meatballs were a nice texture with soft rice and a taste of mint.

There were four hot from the griddle tortillas and a small bag of chips with salsa. The tortillas and chips were probably from a bag. The salsa was excellent though. Hot enough to remove paint.

It is decent and filling, if not amazing, soup. No tomatoes or corn in the soup, Susan. Not the meatball soup of your dreams.

I oddly enjoyed the raspberry aqua fresca that probably started from canned or frozen raspberries. Although it wasn’t full of flavor, there were a lot of raspberry pieces and a few pieces of canned pineapple. Toward the end I was kind of into it.

There’s a pretty standard Mexican menu. The burritos ($3.99) are huge.

It is set back from the road, surrounded by a large parking lot. There are a two tables and 4 or five counter seats. Out back there are picnic tables. A very pleasant Mexican mother type beamed when the woman in line with me told me she loved the meatball soup and everything.

Has anyone else tried Gallegos?

Gallegos Mexican Food

(510) 841-9710
2309 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, CA 94702

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  1. b
    babette feasts

    I love their carnitas tacos! Succulent, oozing fat in a good way, well flavored, crave-worthy.

    1. c

      Is this the place that is diagonally across from Jack In the Box on Allston? The restaurant stretches at right angles to San Pablo and is fronted on the side street side by a strip parking lot? I can walk there from home.

      If so at one time there was a restaurant at that spot that was an early outlet for Kentucky Fried Chicken, among other things on their menu.

      9 Replies
      1. re: chocolatetartguy

        Nope, it is on the same side of the street as Jack in the Box, about two blocks down the road. The color orange seems to vaguely come to mind, so it might be painted that color or have (hidden) signs that color.

        Near by, I see the place that was a 'New York deli' in the car wash is about to open as a taqueria.

        Thanks for the tip about the carnitas tacos, babette. Will have to try them.

        Noticed chiliqueles on the menu for $3.99, but somehow I have to think this might not be what Susan is seeking, but who knows?

        1. re: rworange

          hey, at that (fairly) low price the chilaquiles might be what I think of as just plain old DF syle chilaquiles without eggs, chicken, can always hope!

          Did you happen to notice if there was cosido on the menu at Gallegos?

          Now that my plans to dine at Fork next month got kaboshed by the chef change :-( maybe I should take all the money I will save and do a San Pablo area Mexican food crawl...(you know Gallegos, Monteros, Los Picudos....)

          1. re: susancinsf

            Que es cosido, por favor?

            1. re: sydthekyd

              Oops....Desculpeme, es cocido, no cosido...

              anyway, sorry for the mispelling if that kept you from looking it up, or maybe you were just pointing out that my Spanish no es tan perfecto ...:-)

              but anyway cocido is a stew. Originally Spanish in origin, in Mexico often made with clear broth or caldo and beef...I first tasted it in Central California, where it is often on menus as Cocido de Res: a beef soup with clear broth, pieces of potato, corn on the cob, onions, carrot...peppery and delicious! (the Spanish original was made with garbanzo beans, and you will find that in Mexican versions tambien).

              Best served with chopped cilantro and/or dried basil, chopped onion, chilis, salsa, squirt or three of lime, and homemade tortillas. A favorite comfort food! Yumm!

              1. re: susancinsf

                Oh. I was going to ask when I next visit. No. It is not that type of place. They have chicken soup on Wednesday and menudo on the weekend.

            2. re: susancinsf

              I was just there while waiting for my car to be finished at the body shop. On Fridays only they have caldo de res (sp?), a beef vegetable soup made with beef shanks. Is that the same as cocido? I love beef shank soups but had large lunch earlier and contented myself with a tasty carnitas taco and a weak horchata. I believe that the chilaquiles were just plain, sans eggs.

              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                yes, sounds like it! will have to check it out....thanks for the update...

                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  When you check it out, do so for lunch, because they close at 6 everyday but Saturday (when they close at 3.) They have albondigas on Monday, chicken soup on Wednesday and caldo de res on Friday. Damn, I thought I'd have caldo de res for dinner tonight!

                  1. re: chocolatetartguy

                    I was off last week and made the time to run over to Gallegos for the caldo de res. The broth was not as deeply flavored as I would have liked, but it had a nice meaty, fatty flavor to it which improved as I incorporated the add-ins.

                    I got a big bowl with about one shank's worth of meat and big chunks of carrot, celery and unpeeled white potato. The side dishes made for a very pho-like experience. I ate the meat with the chunky red salsa and dumped chopped onion and cilantro into the mix which improved the soup. When I finished off the larger ingredients, I added the Spanish rice, which added even more flavor to the broth. This satisfying lunch with tortillas, chips and a Diet Pepsi was less than $10.

                    I had time to study the menu and the chilaquiles are without eggs and cost 3.95? They also have birria (made with beef) and chicken or pork in a mole sauce. Gallegos closes at 6 during the week and 3 on Saturday and is closed Sundays. Not the best Mexican food I've ever had, but Gallegos has the feel of home-style authenticity. What more can you ask for in the way of atmosphere than being shoehorned between a discount liquor store and Tito's Machine Shop!

            3. I had tacos there once a couple years ago, and thought they were boring.

              4 Replies
              1. re: David Boyk

                At first I thought the carnitas were dry, but the thin fiery salsa, the cooking liquor and the meat made for a tasty snack.

                I also sampled the carnitas taco at La Villa, the new place in the 'hood. Their carnitas seemed a little less dry, but the taco wasn't as good. I did like their salsa fresca of sliced onions and habanero and my honey dew agua fresca. Their taco was a quarter more at $1.50.

                I didn't know there were "taco truck" tacos in Berkeley. Now I don't have to trek to El Novillo.

                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  I haven't tried it yet, but there is a taco truck near Fourth Street a few steps away from Eccolo. It is called La Esperanza. Those guys hanging out in that area looking for work need to eat, ya know.

                    1. re: sydthekyd

                      It's on the west side of San Pablo near Channing, but before Dwight. My dentist eats there, if that makes a difference! I think Gallegos is more interesting.

                2. Gallegos is actually located on the parking lot of Tito's Machine Shop, sandwiched between a liquor store and Wise Auto Repairs, just south of Bancroft Way. I like Gallegos, mostly just because it is two blocks from my house--their tacos are outshined by many other taquerias, but for me the convenience can't be beat. One day during a power outage, they were the only business serving food, since the outage was from the west side of San Pablo down to 4th street--seemed like the whole neighborhood was there.

                  La Villa is the new joint in the parking lot of the Solar Car Wash (just north of Dwight)--for awhile they just had a truck parked there. Tacos were ok, again nothing special, but good if you're washing your car or live nearby.

                  The only other news (sort of) in this neighborhood is that the announced (and long-awaited) Salvadoran restaurant never even made it to its opening--another victim of Berkeley's long permit process? I don't know, but that always seems like a reasonable assumption.