Oakland taco truck updates?
I mentioned the John Birdsdall's East Bay Express review of 21 taco trucks in my Google taco truck map because it is a good article with some background information about the trucks.
I've been comparing it to my taco truck list and started wondering if maybe some updates are in order.
He used three meats - lengua, cabesa and al pastor to compare and mentioned any unusual item the truck might have.
I don't know, I think given the usual sad state of al pastor, he might have been better using carnitas as his benchmark.
Also it misses the specialties at some trucks. He wrote off El Ojo de Agua because he didn't try the aqua frescas or other drinks there.
In the past the fish tacos at Sinaloa were written off, but he liked them a lot ... maybe an uphill report?
There are some trucks I haven't seen mentioned the most notable being Tamales Mi Lupita. Parking lot at 3340 Foothill Blvd. (near 34th Ave.). Birdsdall writes
:"Earthy, rustic grilled tortillas hold homely, cazuela-like fillings: choriso con papa (salty and electric, perspiring orange oil), chicharrón (unctuous stewed pork skin). The pupusas are toe-curlingly good, chewy, leaking finely crisped oozings of queso — a pupusa de calabasa contains a slick of cheese studded with green, delicately vegetal cubes of zucchini-like squash:
He liked all the meats quite a lot at El Centenario No. 2.
So ... what do you think? Since all of his eating was done in January 2009, maybe some places should be re-considered.
Eh. I think he missed the boat on some of those by not going with what they really specialize in. And he talks about pastor on a spit, but where is El Gordo?
The news to me is that the El Paisa truck is behind La Parilla -- it used to be one of my favorites, but I lost it when La Parilla was built on the lot where they used to park. And they're still using the styrofoam trays I described in my first report!
I've under reported on the trucks on Foothill. I've tried most of them, but the only one that stands out is the fairly decent ceviche at the truck next to the Hell's Angels HQ (I think it's the one he describes at being the Taqueria el Güero. Parking lot of All Green Produce, 4095 Foothill Blvd. (at 41st Ave.)).
I have mentioned the Mi Lupita wagon a couple of times, but I've never tried it. If I did, I wouldn't buy a taco, since it's a Salvadoran operation (I've had pupusas at the Lupita's restaurant next door and thought they were the best I'd had in Fruitvale at the time, but there are a lot more places offering pupusas since then. My limit on pupusas is one, so I've never done a pupusa crawl).
re: Ruth Lafler
Well, even if it is lousy, someone might find that one good thing the truck does.
I think the best strategy if there are no reports on a truck is just to hang out near it and see what people order the most.
Ohhh ... last week I got sucked in by the new carnitas chicken taco at El Pollo Loco. It was $1.79 for something about the same size as any taco truck with fast food tasting chicken and salsa ... no pickled veggies or chips or radish.
You never want to do a pupusa crawl. I tried that once over a few weeks and I was burnt out on pupusas for years. They are often just too same tasting thing though these days more varied fillings seem to be creeping in like the squash mentioned in the article and I read Balompie has some new fillings.
re: Ruth Lafler
My husband tried Mi Lupita truck last week and went back for more today, bless him. The pupusas are What To Order. First, they smell like HEAVEN FRIED AND WRAPPED IN FOIL. The Pupusa Loroco has an amazing complex flavor- similar to artichoke, combined with the buttery cheese and tender masa dough, GBD on the outside and comfort-foody on the inside. I'd never had Loroco before; it's a Salvadoran herb not sold fresh in the US; I think this was pickled, there was a slight tartness to it, oh YIKES it was YUMMY! TRY IT!!! The cabbage slaw and tasty sides of sauce are all good. Downsides: The lengua burrito wasn't brilliant, and the custardy banana-leaf-wrapped tamales are an acquired taste.
I've always liked the Sinaloa fish tacos, he missed the carnitas though at the second truck.
His three meats are my default choices as well, so I enjoyed reading his reports. I've tried four of the trucks he mentioned; Sinaloa, Mi Grullense (north), Ojo de Agua, and Novillo, and his reviews are pretty concurrent with my experiences. I do agree that he totally missed out on El Gordo, pastor and suadero are tops there.
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Tried out Taqueria Reynoso for the first time and really liked it - it's a brick-and-mortar place, near the International and Foothill intersection. Tried the lengua and the cabeza, as well as a mixed steak and chorizo - while the lengua and cabeza were good, the mixed steak and chorizo was the winner. The steak was cooked nearly to a crisp, and the rich, oily combination stood up well to their mildly sweet salsa, which was either spiked with apple, or with something that tasted a whole lot like apple (I'll admit the sweetness threw me off a bit with the other two tacos).
Also of note, I think they had the best burrito I've had yet in the East Bay - I actually haven't had a burrito in Oakland that I've really liked until now. Everything was well-seasoned, and the rice was perfect.
3329 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601