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Dec 9, 2008 03:29 PM

BEST QUESADILLA (Taco?, Burrito?) EVER (In Salinas)!! [moved from San Francisco/Bay Area board]

OK, so Salinas is a little south of the Bay Area but not too far south...right?

Upon the recommendations and rumors posted on the California board, I had lunch today at Taqueria El Grullense at 976 Acosta Plaza in Salinas. I'm assuming this "El Grullense" is not part of a chain of other "El Grullense" Taquerias. Apparently this taqueria has a very good taco truck in Salinas as well.

I had a Super-quesadilla carne asada with everything (avocado, tomato, lettuce) except sour cream. The carne asada was very flavorful, obviously used a great marinade of some kind for the meat. The tortilla was well grilled but not too crisped and all the fillings had a fresh flavor to them. Only problem was the small plastic fork was not up to the task to handle the immense quesadilla. Also the plate came with marinated carrots, chips (OK), good salsa, and some very nice lightly grilled (regular) onions.

In any case this taqueria is well worth a detour if you are traveling up and down 101 or are in the Monterey Bay area (and are a fan of taquerias). Even if you live in the southern part of the Bay area and are particularly fanatical about taquerias, it's worth the jaunt down with a carload of folks. Seats, little atmosphere...but great food (and lots of it).

Taqueria El Grullense
976 Acosta Plaza, Salinas, CA 93905

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  1. Yes, this is a super place, glad you enjoyed the food in my hometown. You'll want to try the carnitas next time. The prices at the taqueria are the same as the truck except that sales tax is not included, so you pay a little more but also have more menu selection and can take a seat at the table. Run by a nice family -- once when I was there with my dad and my back was turned placing our order, apparently he was having trouble with the zipper on his jacket and one of the owner's little girls came over and asked if she could help him with it.

    Taqueria El Grullense
    976 Acosta Plaza, Salinas, CA 93905

    5 Replies
    1. If you click on the blue-lettered Places link for Taqueria El Grullense in my post above, you find the Places record and a google map. The map is expandable so that you can find the place. Acosta Plaza is next to the intersection of Laurel Drive and Sanborn Road. There are several ways to get there from 101, so you'll need to pick your own route from the map.

      1. I believe the 101 signage for the Sanborn Rd. exit also mentions Hwy. 68 to Laguna Seca or Monterey Peninsula. This exit is between the exits to John St. and the Salinas Airport.

        Once off 101 head north on Sanborn.

          1. re: Stephanie Wong

            thanks--I recognize it now. Visualizing the exit I used to take to get to my mom's in Monterey via Blanco Rd, but turn left instead of heading west under the freeway. Same exit I use to get to Mi Pueblo Mkt.

          2. Are you asking about the sit-down taqueria discussed in this thread or the taqueria's truck which is at a different location?

          3. I was in Salinas again for business and decided to go to El Grullense again.

            This time I tried the carnitas and it was also excellent. Thanks for the tip Melanie Again I ordered the same super-quesadilla. Though I already had had a sufficiency, I don't make it down to Salinas often, so I decided to order a taco with chorizo and it was also excellent!!

            So Taqueria El Grullense (Acosta Plz.) Rules!!

            Now I just wish the overlords of Chowhound would allow me to inform my fellow Bay Area residents of this great taqueria just to the south!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mikus

              You are welcome to post a pointer, that is a short note on the SF Bay Area board with a link to this thread.

              To answer your earlier question, El Grullense in Salinas is not related to those in the Bay Area. The owner is from El Grullo in Jalisco, Mexico, like the owners of the other Grullense restaurants. Besides its fame for ex-pat taqueros, El Grullo is also known for mariachi bands.

            2. Googling around today, i found this piece on Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein's blog,
     about Taqueria El Grullense. Apparently he hit town this summer with a list of Mexican eats gleaned from the 'net, tried 8-10 trucks and taquerias and found he liked this one the best. He also recommended Bonny Doon's Monterey County Grenache to accompany carnitas and al pastor tacos. Evan is an author, wine educator, hospitality training consultant, and many other hats related to the food and beverage industry, so you're in very good company indeed in your pick!

              He linked back to my original post, . So, Evan, if you're out there, we've talked wine before, I'm glad we have a love of tacos in common too!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I second Evan Goldstein's recommendation of El Grullense truck. The tacos were great AND they had a bunch of condiments. The side of the truck has two glass doors that open out. Inside are all the goodies -- salsas, onions, cilantro, carrots/onions/jalapenos, lime wedges, etc.. The jalapenos are even grilled. If there's a taco truck or taqueria that beats this, I want to hear about it.

                1. re: chow_eb

                  Evan's rec is actually for the sit down taqueria that has the same ownership as the truck. You should give it a try next time you're in town.

              2. Hey, sorry to bump this old thread, but I wanted to double-check if this place is still located in Acosta Plaza? Thinking about going for lunch tomorrow (on our way down to Big Sur), but I'm having trouble finding any recent reports anywhere on the Internet.

                Yelp, for instance, only has a place named Taqueria Los Grullenses listed, but it's a different address (655 Sanborn Pl) and different phone number.

                Los Grullenses
                655 Sanborn Pl, Salinas, CA 93901

                9 Replies
                1. re: abstractpoet

                  Los Grullenses is a different restaurant and not as good. Bear in mind that Salinas is a smaller town, not prosperous and not a big tourist attraction, so there's not much on the Internet about anything in town.

                  Can't help u since I haven't been to the restaurant for a couple years. Inprefer the truck and it's closer to our house. You'd be best to call ahead. The phone number is in the Place record.

                  What I can say is that at a public event last month where I was walking around with a name tag, a woman came up to me and asked if I posted on Chowhound about Tacos in Salinas. Guilty! She then hugged me and explained that she'd been in Big Sur and Carmel for her honeymoon. On the drive to SFO to fly home, they'd searched the site for places to eat near 101 in Salinas. First they went to the truck but she didn't feel comfortable on the street. Then they went to the taqueria. She said the green salsa was the tastiest thing of her time in the area, she loved it. Turns out she is a chef in a fine dining restaurant in Boston. She asked me if i knew what the secret is as she's been trying to replicate it.

                  Los Grullenses
                  655 Sanborn Pl, Salinas, CA 93901

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Thanks for this, Melanie. Place is still open at that location, still great. Very nice people. That green salsa is amazing!

                    My overall trip report:

                    1. re: abstractpoet

                      All good news! My post above was typed on my phone while I was half-asleep and off the grid, but I felt that I needed to give you answer before you headed off on your weekend. I'm so relieved that you enjoyed it. Should you find yourself there again, here's a tip. I often take a pint container to the Tacos El Grullense truck and ask them to fill it with green salsa. The guys usually charge me a buck or two, and that's a super deal. It will keep for at least a week or longer in the refrigerator . . . it's so potent . . . but it's usually gone before then, used at home on eggs, toast, steak, quesadillas, everything.

                      Tacos El Grullense truck
                      Kern St and E Market St, Salinas, CA 93905

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Melanie, I do the same with the green salsa at El Lugarcito in King City. It quickly became a favorite at family gatherings when Mom lived in Monterey. "don't forget to stop and pick up some salsa!" Sooo good.

                        El Lugarcito Restaurant
                        128 Broadway St, King City, CA 93930

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          We viisited the truck last week. It was as good as ever, maybe better. The Pastor had a subtle, unusual flavor, maybe allspice. We thought it was the best ever. And the carnitas were great.

                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                        Just wanted to say that I looked at this thread for a friend of mine yesterday, who was driving from SF down to Santa Barbara. He stopped off at Los Grullenses (the location on Sanborn Pl) and he said it was very good - he had four tacos, and he said the best were the bbq pork.

                        It looks like, re-reading this thread, that he might have been better off at the taco truck instead? But it sounds like he was very happy with his meal, and it was very convenient off the 101.

                        Dave MP

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          You're getting a little confused here. And also goes to show how the restaurant links and map function would help to keep things straight.

                          Los Grullenses on Sanborn Place is NOT related to Taqueria El Grullense on Acosta Place nor to El Grullense taco truck. Taqueria El Grullense owns the taco truck.

                          Los Grullenses is inferior to Taqueria El Grullense and the truck. If your friend is in that vicinity again, there's a Oaxacan restaurant one block west of Los Grullenses that I would recommend instead. Or El Grullense's taco truck is one freeway exit north and equally convenient for on and off the freeway.

                          That said, I'm glad he was happy. Not hard to be, as the average taco in Salinas is about 300% better than SF's average.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            What is the Oaxacan restaurant you recommend?

                            1. re: srr

                              That would be El Oaxaqueno. It's a simple place, best to stick with the antojitos. Like many of these spots in Salinas, the recipes are not codified and the result depends on who is doing the cooking. Looks like I've not posted about it since 2004, need to post an update.
                              El Oaxaqueño
                              737 S. Sanborn Place

                              Another Oaxacan place is to the east a bit further in the same shopping center as Mi Tierra market, called Jugeria La Tropical. It specializes in Oaxacan tortas and also tamales wrapped in banana leaf. Both places use a lot of lard, so expect some grease dripping off those tamales.

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