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La Taqueria

I haven't been in years. Twice in the last 6 months I have gone in and stood in line only to walk out before ordering. Tacos are $3.50?!?! Plus a charge of $1.20 if I DON'T want beans! Sooo... if I wan't two tacos without beans is that really gonna cost me $10? I just can't bring myself to do it, especially with so many great options nearby. I've heard the Carnitas are good but why the hell is it so expensive? They seem to be using the same ingredients that all the other taquerias are using and charging almost twice as much.

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  1. That's La Taqueria in a nutshell. Michael Bauer always puts it in his top 100 restaurants, which seems to give it enough gloss that people who would otherwise never eat ethnic food will happily go there, and declare it the best ever.

    In its defense, I suppose all the meats are probably consistently good, whereas elsewhere in the Mission if you want good carne asada and good chile verde, you might have to go to two different places.

    I'm of the opinion that putting a low-price restaurant in the top 100 completely ruins it, because they don't charge enough to have the staff infrastructure to handle crowds of patrons demanding 3 star service.

    1. Not only will it cost you $10, you'll feel ripped off. My mother pointed to the neon sign proclaiming the food as the best in the world, and said "they lied". Then we went home to Salinas and had much better tacos.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Reminds me of the story best in the city, best in the state but all the business went to the place with the sign "Best on this Block" . What else is close by?

      2. To me, $10 for two tacos with the best carnitas on the planet**, dorados tortillas, beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream and guacamole is well worth it. Their quality is very consistent and the fact that it is not only gabachos eating there, but several Mexicans as well, speaks volumes.

        Granted, $10 is a lot for two tacos, but these are not meant to compare to the $1.50 taco truck taco. It would take a least 5 or 6 of those "traditional" tacos to be as filling as of two of La Taqueria's.

        Want to complain about feeling ripped off about the cost of a dish, how about $10+ for a plate of spaghetti con pomodoro at most Italian places -- a dish that costs less than $1.50 to make.

        Quality is quality and it is unfair to expect that just because a cuisine is "ethnic" that it must be inexpensive.

        **I've eaten carnitas EVERYWHERE and La Taqueria's are the best.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Husky

          I totally agree. All ingredients are fresh and delicious. Everything is prepared just right. Don't forget the aqua frescas.

          It does cost more than a lot of other tacquerias, but you get what you pay for. And it has nothing to do with the awards, they've always been relatively expensive. If anything, I'd bet its related to paying a living wage. They've kept the same staff (mostly, and they're not all family) for the 15+ years I've been eating there.

          1. re: Husky

            What is the meaning of dorados tortillas?

            Do they also offer Mexico City style tacos -- tortillas, meat, onion, cilantro, wet sauce?

            To me, nothing can hide in these tacos so they are the real deal. Super tacos remind me of eating a chef salad because I like bacon.

            Each to his own taste. Enjoy what you like.

            1. re: anyhow

              They will make it the way you want, as you described above -- just tell them.
              Dorados means golden -- they crisp up one of the 2 tortillas and fold them both over your filling. I prefer it this way, kind of crunchy. They don't have a salsa bar like some places do but their green tomatillo sauce, in squirt bottles on all the tables, is delish.
              They'll put salsa on the taco but I have them put mine on the side or none at all -- I like to keep it crispy.

            2. re: Husky

              You obviously haven't eaten carnitas in Mexico, because the carnitas at La Taqueria is decent but not great. It isn't even that much better than Gordo...

              1. re: hankstramm

                For some reason, things like carnitas and tacos al pastor are never as good here as they are when they're good in Mexico. Must have something to do with what the animals are fed or the breed or something. I have no idea. Someone here probably does. I've had good carnitas here and there in this country, but never tacos al pastor. Not a single time. Not that they're always awful. I don't mean it like that. But the good ones in Mexico are irresistible and I'm not even much of a pork eater.

                Count me as among those who don't get the antipathy towards La Taqueria unless it's taken a dive lately. Haven't been there for awhile, but I've been there lots of times. Forget about writing it off as being a gringo place. Lots of Mexicans think it's great, especially the carne asada. Arguing that it looks better because of the weak competition does have some merit, though.

                1. re: maigre

                  All this "talk" made me want to go there so today I got a carnitas burrito w/beans, cheese, guac, green sauce. Unfortunately, it was too salty -- I mentioned it and they were going to check on the carnitas. I didn't have time to have them make one of chicken, instead. But, I was surprised it came to $8.90. (Had not been there in a while and usually get tacos.) Guess I could have done w/out guac and thus it'd have been less expensive. That really is getting up there in price but SF's minimum wage is about $9.36 an hr, right?

                2. re: hankstramm

                  Really? It's obvious, huh? I guess the time I spent living in and eating carnitas in Michoacán, Puebla, Mexico City and Oaxaca don't count. Huevón...

                  1. re: Husky

                    Huevón. I take it that doesn't mean my bad? ;-)

              2. I asked about that charge for "no beans" when I first went there. The charge is only on burritos -- they figure if you don't get beans, you're getting more meat. If you order a burrito and don't want to pay more for no beans, just say you want to receive the regular amt of meat and they won't charge extra.

                I usually get tacos (dorados) w/out beans and they just charge extra if you want cheese, guac or sour cream. (I do think their beans are delicious.) I love their carnitas and the chicken, always moist. Others do like the carne asada.

                2 Replies
                1. re: walker

                  I have to laugh at anyone ordering a burrito at a place called la taqueria. the same clue-bies inevitably complain about the lack of rice in their burritos. now, there's complaints about asking for a burrito without beans too? duh. its all about the tacos.

                  1. re: walker

                    Well thanks for the clarification. I'll give the carnitas taco a try... I can part with $7 if the tacos are really that good. Of course I'll have to wait a bit because I can't afford it right now in these economic times. :)

                  2. La Taqueria is okay. The stuff is fresh but it's on the gringo-ized side. If I near by and someone I'm with wants to go, I have no problem, you can do far, far worse. That said, yeah $10 bucks for 2 is a lot but then I'd just eat the beans because yes, they're good for you. (no black beans..pinto)

                    re: the carnitas...LT's is very pot roast-like IMO. It's hearty and I can understand why people like it...it's not the best IMO however. La Bamba in Mountain View...automatic stop as far as I'm concerned.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ML8000

                      Most overated Mexican restaurant in SF, but considering its peers, that is not saying much. I agree with most people that better tacos can be found for A LOT cheaper.
                      I don't know why Bauer loves the place, I even emailed him about it, he mentioned something about the freshness.. etc, but he also admitted he had better tacos, and he felt that SF was lacking in good consistent Mexican food (True).

                    2. It's simply the darling of certain SF food critics (cough Bauer cough) who are too scared/full to try out anywhere else nearby. Because of that they get a constant stream of people willing to pay more or less whatever price they want to charge, it's what the market will bear.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: asides

                        The La Taqueria in SJ closed due to owner wanting to retire (he stills owns the one in SF), I never got to try it. Going to be a Carl's Jr. in it's place. Sad. I'll avoid the La Taqueria in SF.

                        La Taqueria
                        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      2. I _love_ the burritos and tacos there. My standard order is a carne asada burrito with no beans, but with most everything else. Also, two large fresas (strawberry drinks). Occasionally I get carnitas instead -- I'm not a big carnitas fan but theirs are excellent. Very high quality meats.

                        Overall, well worth the $$. When I lived in the B.A., La Taqueria was a regular stop. Now when I visit from out of state, it's a must.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Steve Green

                          I agree, I'm willing to pay more for the high quality, esp. of the meats.

                        2. Meh.. La Taqueria is decent but certainly not significantly better than most other tacqerias in the area. My litmus test is carnitas and I frankly think they're mediocre.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: jrenaldi

                            Where do you go for carnitas? I've been meaning to try La Bamba but I'm not down in Mtn View area that often.

                            1. re: walker

                              Funny you should ask.. I just posted an inquiry to request favorites from other Chowhounds. My favorite in SF is actually the taco truck near the courthouse on Bryant which I found while serving jury duty. However, it closes outside of regular business hours. El Metate is good but inconsistent.

                              1. re: jrenaldi

                                Jrenaldi, those carnitas at the taco truck across from the Hall of Justice were my favorite too, not to mention the best taco truck in the city.
                                The taco truck is called 'El Norteno'.
                                I don't know why the place does not receive similar praise like 'La Taqueria' or 'Can-Cun'.

                                1. re: Agrippa

                                  No doubt! It is awesome. I've even traveled across the city and suffered the parking just to get my fix.

                                  1. re: jrenaldi


                                    Tru Gourmet
                                    San Francisco, CA, San Francisco, CA

                          2. This place has to be the most overrated taqueria in the city. I've eaten there 4 or 5 times and nothing was better than average. And unless you really like beans, I'd say below average. In fact, I still haven't found a single taqueria iin the Mission that compares with any of a dozen taquerias and taco trucks along International in Oakland (Except maybe El Matate).

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Zeldog

                              Thank you, I lived in the Mission for 4 years, and simply put, I thought the Mexican food totally sucked, it was mostly greasy and rancid, or just plain mediocre.
                              And the 'Mission' Burrito is not a standard by which a good Mexican restaurant should be judged, that is like saying a French restaurant is only good if it has good French Fries.

                            2. I can take or leave La Taqueria. I only go if I'm with someone who wants to go and I'm near by. It's "okay." That said, LT does have some history on its side...not that that means anything in the final bite and taste. LT and La Cumbre were the first (or among the first) taquerias in the Mission.

                              LT was probably the first place to gringo-ize their food...so they've had a following for quite awhile. I'm not positive but I believe they were among the first to offer black beans, no lard in the beans, trim their meat, a veggie burrito, etc. On that note, their offerings seem weak but the way they pack that place, I'm guessing their laughing their way to the bank.