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Sep 5, 2008 07:35 AM

Taquerias in Sunnyvale?

Thanks to this post: I had some tasty carnitas at Las Islitas in Sunnyvale yesterday. The shredded pork was perfectly browned, still nice and moist, and dripping with lard.

I also tried the Desebrada (shredded beef) - I asked if it was cabeza, but from the response I don't think it was from 'that' part of the cow. The beef was on the dry side, and the red chili marinade didn't seem to have penetrated the meat. Maybe best dipped in some salsa.

The al pastor definitely had good flavor, but the texture was that of being over-marinated (almost mushy). Funny though, as the pork pieces had a smoky bbq flavor. Maybe they grill it off site? There's no rotating spit here that I saw.

They had free chips (on the thick side) and a decent salsa bar with the standard selections. The patrons, murals, and blaring music gave the place that authentic feel.

Any other suggestions in the neighborhood?

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  1. The counter at the back of Chavez Market is pretty good. Also, the place next to it on Fair Oaks (don't recall the name).

    13 Replies
    1. re: kc72

      I like Chavez Market. They have a web site. My favorite meat from Chavez is carnitas, it is a "wet carnitas", they also have al pastor on the spit (but it is seldom topped with pineapple), tongue, 2 kinds of beef, chicken, pork stew, and goat. This take out only, there are chairs/tables in front of the market. A lot of "construction" workers get food at Chavez, but the line moves quickly. Beverages are close the counter and they often have "Mexican Coke". They have "whole beans" as well as refried beans. They open at 7:00 and most of the meats are ready by 7:05. Chicken may not be available until ~7:30 or will have to be cooked to order.

      I do not like the place next door (Tres Potrillos), 3P has an wide variety of salsa but the meat (beef/pork) is sliced very thin, is very dry and cut into 1/2" dice.

      A lot of "construction" workers get their food from Chavez, tables are outside.

      Tres Postrillos serves families.

      Occasionally there is a tamale vendor in 3P's parking lot.

      1. re: Alan408

        Thanks.. haven't been to either in awhile.

        Is it Potrillos, Postrillos or Portillos?

        1. re: kc72

          Is it Potrillos, Postrillos or Portillos?

          Tres Potrillos

          1. re: Alan408

            It's been a long while since I visited Tres Potrillos, but I liked them: plenty of seating, really thick tortilla chips, fish burritos, and occasionally (beef) buche.

        2. re: Alan408

          Thanks for the Al Pastor mention. I'm excited to know it's cooked on the spit!

          Chavez Supermarket & Taqueria
          666 N Fair Oaks Ave, Sunnyvale, CA

          Las Islitas Taqueria
          848 E Evelyn Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

          1. re: Alan408

            I tried the al pastor and carnitas today. I thought both meats were on the dry side, and the al pastor wasn't carved fresh from the spit.

            What do you mean by 'wet' carnitas? I actually asked for a super carnitas taco, when I saw how dry the meat looked. It came topped with cilantro, onions, tomato salsa, guacamole, and cheese. The extra toppings helped offset the dry meat.

            It may have been an off day though, I'll give them another shot. What else is good here? I also saw barbacoa, lengua, chile verde, pollo, pollo asado.

            Oh yeah, you have to ask for the free chips and pickled jalapenos, radishes, etc.

            1. re: DezzerSF

              I have had two different styles of carnitas. Chavez simmers their carnitas on top of a stove, it is kept in liquid on the steam table. Tropicana (in the 90s) sold a crispy (roasted?) carnitas.

              I do not like the grilled chicken, dry and little flavor. I have tried: lengua, carne asada, al pastor, chili verde, carnitas and grilled chicken. My usual is carnitas.

              Chavez's tacos are prepared with ~6" tortillas, and are steamed.

              1. re: Alan408

                My tortillas were actually thrown on the griddle (I think), but the texture felt like they were steamed. I prefer grilled (browned) tortillas, but these I didn't mind too much.

                The al pastor had good smoky bbq flavor, and balanced spicing, but just a tad dry. What I noticed is that none of the meats were grilled to order, just straight out of the steam table and onto the chopping board. I wonder if there's an optimal time to go?

                1. re: DezzerSF

                  At the Redwood City one it totally depend on who you get. You can get fresh tortillas of the machine, grilled, and al pastor off the spit and grilled. If I see them taking it from the steam table, I order huevos con nopales or ask for them to grill them. Haven't been to the Sunnyvale one though, so don't know how it differs.

            2. re: Alan408

              I've been thinking of trying the tacos at Chavez for awhile, but wasn't sure if there were tables. Are the tables in the sun or shade? I have to ask because I need to maintain my ghostly pallor.

              1. re: katya

                The tables face Fair Oaks, probably north. The tables may be in the sun late in the afternoon.

                1. re: katya

                  Yeah nice and shady during my early lunch.

              2. re: kc72

                I tried Tres Potrillos today and it's probably my favorite of the bunch. Tacos are the 4" variety and priced at $1.76. I had al pastor, carnitas, and cabeza. I didn't see a spit for the al pastor but it had good flavor, and the thin pieces were tender. The carnitas wasn't crispy, more of a braised texture, but moist and porky. The cabeza was very tender and gelatinous, just slightly lacking in salt so a little hot sauce fixed that.

                What I enjoyed the most was the salsa bar. They have a salsa fresca and salsa verde that taste exactly the same as my favorite ones at Taqueria San Jose in Oakland. The chips were nice too, obviously fried in house, and not oily at all.

              3. I've been curious about the taco truck that parks on El Camino across from Sports Authority near Remington. Has anyone checked this out? I'll report back if I venture over there this weekend.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Concetta

                  Yes, I've seen lines at that truck every time I've gone by.

                  1. re: Concetta

                    I tried the El Taco De Oro taco truck today and had four tacos. They are $1.25 each and come on 2 griddled 4" tortillas with cilantro, onions, and salsa. The tacos had a good amount of meat for the tortilla, especially considering the price.

                    Al pastor - Nothing special about the spicing, pretty subtle, but the spicy chipotle salsa on top provided a good kick. The small pieces of pork were on the dry side though.

                    Cabeza - Had a hint of oregano, which I've never detected in cabeza before, but it wasn't aggressive anyway. Not the most gelatinous and tender version I've had and not quite as beefy in flavor either. Topped with a salsa verde.

                    Carnitas - Small pieces fried to a crisp, literally. They were almost like cracklings. I thought it had good flavor, albeit dry. Topped with a similar chipotle salsa as the pastor but not as spicy.

                    Lengua - The best of the bunch. I don't usually go for lengua because I've found it to be bland the times I've had it. The lengua here had a surprisingly beefy flavor and was very tender. I would order this again.

                    The options I didn't try were carne asada, pollo (can't remember if it was grilled or not), and tripitas. Burritos are $3.50, super burritos are $5.00, and tortas are $3.00. I believe I saw Mexican Coke in the ice box.

                    El Taco de Oro
                    112 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA

                  2. Dezzersf , is it time for someone to pick up the gauntlet and continue El Taquistador's quest in the South Bay?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: wolfe

                      That would be quite the task, but with some time and exercise, it can be done!

                    2. The original comment has been removed