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Jun 10, 2010 03:35 PM

Have Tacos Will Travel

I'm in town for three days from NYC and I am in search for the best taco in walking (or bus riding) distance from Taylor & O'Farrell st. As you can imagine, we've got some good tacos in nyc, but they cost a fortune...

Also, I'm a total oyster junkie and I LOVE west coast oysters. Could anyone suggest a place that's not too stuffy (I just saw the $1 oyster post, I'll check that out).

I'm also a total nut when it comes to the combination of fries (thin & crispy) and milkshakes together. If anyone knows of a good diner or something where I could get that... bliss.

I've been in the fine dining industry for 12 years so I love good food, but my recent move to ny (from Portland, or) has made me reel it back a bit in that arena. I'm happy to be on the west coast for a little while to take advantage of everything here (leafy greens!)

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am on a bit of a budget (like everyone else these days) so unfortunately I can't run off to French Laundry.

****Basically, where are the small hole in the walls, mom n' pops, and little bistros that I HAVE to try in S.F? I know this is kind of a random list of desires but...****

Chowhound don't let me down!

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

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  1. Get on BART. Take it to Fruitvale Station in Oakland (20 minute ride). Walk out of the station. Walk one block west to the corner of Fruitvale and E. 12th. See taco truck El Novillo in the Guadalajara parking lot. Get a carnitas taco. Specify green salsa (salsa verde). If you are willing to eat pig parts, get the tripas taco (which is pork intestines, aka chitterlings, not tripe). Now that you've taken the edge off your taco cravings, cross E. 12th and walk up Fruitvale toward International. Turn right. Walk down International. See a fruit cart? Ask for corn (elote). With everything. Trust me. Is La Torta Loca open? Buy a something with tinga. Trust me. Wander around sampling anything that looks good. It won't be expensive, so no big deal if you don't like it. Have fun!

    La Torta Loca
    3419 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

    Fruitvale Station
    3401 E 12th St, Oakland, CA

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Is the elote the corn on the cob with the mayo and cheese and spices? If so, I'm totally in - I love that stuff. If not.... I'm curious.

      1. re: C Elise

        +1 on that. Search "fruitvale taco crawl" as well. I can't speak to which taco trucks, but BART is a comfortable ride and Fruitvale is the real deal.

          1. re: C Elise

            You should just make your own; it's simple. But do NOT use Mayo, the "real deal" uses Crema Mexicana. And American sweet corn is FAR superior to Mexican elote which is tough and not very tasty and has to be boiled for quite a while to be edible.

            Simple recipe (ingredients in application order):

            Butter (optional)
            Crema Mexicana (lathered generously)
            Chile Pasilla molino (to taste)
            Queso Cotija (grated/crumbled)

            Coincidentally, I made "Mexican street corn" for a small dinner party last night. Delicious, of course.

          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            Don't know where the OP ended up, but I finally tried the tripas taco at the El Novillo truck (twice now) after reading this post. Good God! It's officially my new favorite taco. Their carnitas taco is good too (OK the first time, excellent the second), but the tripas rocked my world. So my new routine is to first grab a strawberry licuado (or guava agua fresca) from El Ojo de Agua, right down the block, and then buy three or four tacos from El Novillo.

            Anyone try their tripas burritos/tortas/quesadillas? I can only imagine that they would be outstanding as well.

          3. For oysters, I hands down recommend Hog Island Oysters in The Ferry Building. Absolutely freshest, most-succulent, home-grown oysters I've ever tasted. On Mondays and Thursdays from 5-7, you can get the oysters for $1 a piece, enjoy some fresh bakes Acme bread and sip on a happy hour priced beer. You'll also get a great view of the Bay and get to visit the Ferry Building, which is a must-do.

            Hog Island Oyster Co
            20215 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA

            Hog Island Oyster Co
            610 1st St, Napa, CA

            6 Replies
            1. re: jdinsf

              Awesome. I am totally doing this.

              1. re: jdinsf

                I think we're going to drive in though Napa so I'll try to go right to the source! But... I thought the Hog Island farm was over by Bodega Bay. No?

                1. re: C Elise

                  To clarify: the oysters are farmed in Bodega Bay. Hog Island operates two oyster bars, one in the Ferry Building in SF and one in the Oxbow Market (which is a smaller version of the Ferry Building Markethall) in Napa. One difference is that in SF you can have your oysters with a water view!

                  1. re: C Elise

                    No, Hog Island oyster farm is not over by Bodega Bay. It's quite a bit south in the community of Marshall on Tomales Bay.

                    Hog Island Oyster Co
                    20215 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Those bays all look alike to me! At any rate, no oysters are being farmed in Napa, of that I can be sure!

                2. Taco Trucks in SF, do a search for Los Compadres Taco Truck and El Tonayense Taco Truck.

                  There's way more in Oakland and they're better but these are good. Also, Taqueria Cancun at 6th and Market is very good.

                  El Tonayense
                  2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

                  Taqueria Cancun
                  1003 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                  Los Compadres Taco Truck
                  292 Spear St, San Francisco, CA

                  1. Not a diner, but all of my east coast friends love to get In-N-Out when they're in town. You can get your fries "well-done" or "extra well done" if you like them really crispy, and they have great milkshakes as well. The only one in the city is in Fisherman's Wharf.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: arlenemae

                      I've done In-N-Out before, so I got that out of my system (or into my system I should say). I like the idea of getting them extra crispy though....

                      You guys have any good breakfast spots that you like? I forgot to ask about that.

                    2. Inexpensive good food...couple of blocks away at 612 O'Farrell St. is Lahore Karahi, a popular board rec.


                      Lahore Karahi
                      612 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109