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Best Mexican in Marin County

tstrum Mar 9, 2010 04:23 PM

I am looking for dives, Meican Cafes and places that make good tacos, enchiladas, guacomole, refried beans and rice. I like Chile Rellenos and al that good stuff. What are your favorites? I know there are a lot of small places in San Rafael and elsewhere.

  1. Sarah Mar 9, 2010 05:09 PM

    Not sure if it qualifies as a dive, but Celia's (full bar) serves all the stuff you mention...and rather well. It's on Vivian in San Rafael next to a check cashing joint and across the street from the bowling alley parking lot.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sarah
      Sharuf Mar 10, 2010 05:46 AM

      This time capsule out of the '50s has a lot of retro charm for me. Their enchilada sauce is great and refried beans are very tasty. Make sure they bring you their wonderful hot tortillas for slurping up the good gooey stuff. Prices are good at lunchtime, and I could use a cheese enchilada right about now.

      Word of warning - their crisp tacos are of the pre-fab shell variety.


      1. re: Sharuf
        Sarah Mar 10, 2010 07:57 AM

        We also like El Palmar on Lincoln, but their ench sauce is no match for Celia's!

        1. re: Sarah
          tstrum Mar 11, 2010 06:21 AM

          I tried Celia's last night and was impressed. The food was good and reminded me of the Mexican food I grew up with in LA. However, there was one concern. The crisp taco shell tasted like the kind out of a box (pre cooked). I kept trying to convince myself that they wouldn't do that. Would they?

          Celia's Mexican Restaurant
          3190 Campus Dr, San Mateo, CA 94403

          1. re: tstrum
            Sarah Mar 11, 2010 08:12 AM

            Sharuf warned you!!

            1. re: Sarah
              tstrum Mar 11, 2010 05:34 PM

              OK. One night at Celia's and the next at Picante. Apples and oranges. Celia's was more Mex-American: refried beans, enchiladas etc. And Picante seemed very authentic. The al pastor and carne asada were delicious and good quantities served. I would return to both. Thanks all of you for your guidance.

    2. The Librarian Mar 9, 2010 05:48 PM

      Picante in San Rafael - go often and love it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: The Librarian
        BernalKC Mar 9, 2010 06:58 PM

        I used to work in SR about a decade ago and loved going there. Glad to know its still going strong.

        Is the Sonoma Taco Shop up on Freitas Parkway also still good?

        1. re: BernalKC
          The Librarian Mar 10, 2010 06:57 PM

          Sonoma Taco Shop is still there and always busy. Really nice people and good tacos!

          1. re: The Librarian
            Sarah Mar 10, 2010 07:35 PM

            Beware, tstrum, Picante and Sonoma Taco are kinda like, sanitary... without a hint of undiveyness!

        2. re: The Librarian
          Sharuf Mar 10, 2010 06:07 AM

          Picante is basically a glorified burrito bar. Things are ala carte and prices are good.

          I especially like their big crunchy quesadillas on flour tortillas, and their soft tacos. Get a side of guacamole to round things out.

          Oh, yes, they have aguas frescas, such as horchata, in big punch dispensors.

          1. re: The Librarian
            DezzerSF Mar 11, 2010 11:47 AM

            I've gone to Picante two days in a row, thanks to your recommendation. I LOVE the al pastor, perfectly charred, nicely spiced, and cooked on the spit! Really hard to find this.

            The first day I tried tacos, carne asada and al pastor. The carne asada was surprisingly good, freshly cooked and tender.

            But the al pastor made me go back today and get it in a burrito. Their burritos are perfect, in that there's minimal rice and plenty of meat.

            Their salsa verde is nice and spicy, a perfect complement to the meat. Their housemade pickles are good too, restrained acidity with a bit of oil.

            Taqueria San Jose is good too, especially with the free chips and salsa bar, but Picante will probably be my go to. Didn't really like my lengua burrito at Mi Familia on Bellam.

            Celia's is in a different category, more Mexican American than Mexican.

          2. p
            pininex Mar 9, 2010 06:29 PM

            Panchitos in San Rafael.

            1. s
              Sharuf Mar 10, 2010 06:03 AM

              Let us not forget what is probably San Rafael's cheapest and dive-iest hangout for the no hay green card hombres -- Taqueria San Jose. It's on 4th street, practically under the freeway and parking can be a problem.


              3 Replies
              1. re: Sharuf
                Civil Bear Mar 10, 2010 10:33 PM

                I'll second Taqueria San Jose! Pretty good Tacos Dorados.

                1. re: Sharuf
                  Mick Ruthven Mar 11, 2010 03:22 AM

                  I divide my San Rafael taco time between Taqueria San Jose and Taqueria Familia in Bellam Shopping Center. I keep changing my mind about which I like better.

                  1. re: Sharuf
                    pininex Mar 11, 2010 09:25 AM

                    Always a good call. Also like El Farolito on 4th.

                  2. g
                    Giselle Mar 13, 2010 07:19 PM

                    Try Pancho Villa's on Sir Francis Drake Blvd just on the San Anselmo/Fairfax border. Their chile rellenos, guacamole,chips, salsa verde are superior as are the cheese enchiladas. The service and ambiance are also consistently good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Giselle
                      tstrum Mar 30, 2010 07:11 PM

                      Agree. Pancho Villa is just what I was looking for.

                      Pancho Villa
                      365 S B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                    2. DpBluSea Dec 27, 2010 01:29 PM

                      I really like Taqueria San Jose (under the freeway at 4th and Hetherton in San Rafael) have been there several times, simple, never disappoints!

                      1. v
                        Videokate Nov 1, 2011 03:51 PM

                        If you want a drink with your dinner...Celia's is the place. My favorite burrito joint is Taqueria La Fiesta, 524 Alameda Del Prado, in the strip mall on the west side of the Ignacio Exit in Novato. It rivals Taqueria San Jose for great food...they just don't serve burritos bigger than you head! Also, try the Sonora taqueria on Freitas Parkway in Terra Linda..it's in the strip mall with Scotty's Market. My favorite there is their carne asada nachos...YUM!

                        Scotty's Market
                        620 Manuel T Freitas Pkwy, San Rafael, CA 94903

                        Taqueria La Fiesta
                        524 Alameda Del Prado, Novato, CA 94949

                        1. s
                          Sharon S. Nov 2, 2011 04:02 PM

                          I still like to go to Las Camellias on Lincoln.

                          1. m
                            ML8000 Nov 2, 2011 08:46 PM

                            Carlos Santana...of course. Sorry.

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