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Pancho’s Taco de Pescado at Taqueria El Grullense in Redwood City

Melanie Wong Sep 29, 2010 05:54 PM

Would you believe that until this month I’d never been to ANY of the legions of Grullense Mexican restaurants in Redwood City? This lapse was resolved by a visit to Taqueria El Grullense on El Camino Real with Mom and William. http://www.elgrullensegrill.com/ELCAMINOREDWOODCITY.html .

When our mother asked for a taco, I suggested we check out the top of the epic list and ranking compiled two years ago by Sushi Monster. Mom knows her tacos, and she was very happy with the cabeza ones here especially at $1.25 apiece with free chips and a self-serve salsa bar. William had the super nachos piled high with a mountain of carnitas. The soft and tender type rather than golden, but good enough carnitas and even when requested without sour cream, the quantity was staggering for a mere $7.50.

Para mi, first a Taco de Cabrito, $2. Ordered at the counter, and then brought to the table on this nice plate. I’m not crazy about the doughy corn tortillas used here. But the soft chunks of young goat on this taco were first rate and totally craveable topped with the green salsa. As tender as lengua and quite lean, yet still juicy and not dried out from the long cooking.

Then one of the house specialties, Frank's taco (shouted into the kitchen as an order for “Taco de Pancho”), $3.75, made with fish or shrimp. Thick chunks of fish (tilapia?) with a soft battered coating were really juicy and succulent. At first I was disappointed that the batter wasn’t crisper, but the flesh was so on point, I didn’t care. I really liked the nicely griddled, thin and chewy flour tortilla that felt handmade. The orange-y sauce tasted like a mix of the very hot red chile salsa roja and crema, a fiery heat that builds. Complicated by a myriad of dried chiles, the very complex salsa roja here is very similar to the style I grew up with in Salinas. Mom was impressed by Taco de Pancho and said she’s getting this next time.

I also had a champurrado, that was served so scalding hot, I had to pour it back and forth into a water glass to cool it enough to taste. Good too.

The item I’m really curious about on the menu is the fried chicken. Has anyone tried it?

All The Taquerias of Redwood City, v. 2.0 by Sushi Monster aka El Taquistador

Taqueria El Grullense
1280 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA

  1. j
    Jeni Bean Oct 1, 2010 11:29 AM

    Fank's Fish Taco is Hubby's personal favorite at El Grullense (we go to the Woodside Road location 9.9 times out of 10). You are also correct that the Cabrito tacos are excellent. I will basically eat anything from this place.

    At the Woodside Road El Grullense, the ceviche you can get at the bar is the closest I have found to what we ate in Marina Vallarta when we were there. Very lime-y with a touch of Huichol hot sauce.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Jeni Bean
      Melanie Wong Oct 20, 2010 10:53 PM

      Mom went to El Grullense Grill on Woodside Road with my brother last weekend. She wanted the Frank's taco, fish version. It's $4 there or 25¢ more. She was mightily impressed by the size and modern appearance of the Grill saying that there's no taqueria like that in Salinas. William said the fish was fried a little browner and had a bit of crispness to it and the same juicy texture. I'll have to check out the Grill next time.

      El Grullense Grill
      768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        jsaimd Oct 21, 2010 12:02 AM

        I haven't had the Frank's taco, but i do enjoy the grilled fish taco at El Grullense Grill.

        El Grullense Grill
        768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

        1. re: jsaimd
          Melanie Wong Oct 21, 2010 01:34 PM

          Does the grilled fish come with the creamy hot sauce too?

          My brother informs me that I got the price wrong. Frank's taco is $3.75 at El Grullense Grill as well. Palo Alto web menu lists it at $4.

          El Grullense Grill
          768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            jsaimd Oct 21, 2010 05:33 PM

            I don't recall that sauce. I am usually not a creamy sauce fan on fish tacos so I may have ignored it or asked for it on the side. I don't like mayo that much so I probably assumed it was a mayo sauce instead of crema. Crema I do like - time to go back.

    2. Sushi Monster Sep 30, 2010 11:26 PM

      Oh, and by the way, the definitive guide to RWC tacos still lives at:


      Sushi Monster

      1. Sushi Monster Sep 30, 2010 11:11 PM

        Melanie, you really got to the core of the Grullense deal in this post: Lengua and cabrito (goat known other places as birria) are well worth trying -- particularly as "stretch" tastes for our junior friends who automatically go for the pastor or the asada.

        The other point that bears repeating (and this holds true at all Grullense locations, particularly the "old" Grullense on El Camino -- which Melanie's family hit, still my favorite -- and the "new" Grullense on Woodside Road) ... the sauce IS the trip. This stuff is very complex and very precious. It varies from day to day and shift to shift, like the weather.

        I've struggled over my guilt on this point but ... still cop to taking ... maybe a bit TOO much of the red sauce home to cover six tacos.

        I'm sure the Grullense folks (the Gamez family runs the stronger locations) have factored the "sauce disappearance phenomena" into their pricing structure. God bless them.

        Sushi Monster/El Taquistador

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sushi Monster
          Melanie Wong Oct 20, 2010 10:50 PM

          Usually my brother takes Mom to the Grullense J & G in Palo Alto. But now she likes saving 10¢ per taco and getting a little bigger serving in Redwood City. :-)

          Taqueria El Grullense J & G
          3636 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            ckshen Mar 1, 2011 10:55 AM

            How does the PA branch compare to the ones in RWC?

            1. re: ckshen
              virtualguthrie Mar 1, 2011 10:32 PM

              I grew up on El Grullense and I prefer the RWC old school locations. The menu is much smaller at these little taqueria's but I go purely for tacos and sopes. My favorite one that is the Sequoia Station location on El Camino right next to the Redwood City Caltrain station. It seems to me the most consistent , but there are still good days and better days, when it's on the tacos are the absolute best anywhere in my opinion. I typically get Al Pastor and Carnitas tacos and a Sope with Carne Asada.

              1. re: ckshen
                Melanie Wong Mar 2, 2011 05:30 PM

                Sorry, I've not been to J & G in Palo Alto and only have what my mom said in my post to go on.

          2. m
            mchan Sep 29, 2010 11:03 PM

            This is one of my favorite taquerias in the Bay Area. A tip: for those of you who become addicted to the green salsa (like me) you can buy it by the cupful.

            1. m
              ML8000 Sep 29, 2010 06:50 PM

              I had Frank's taco at El Grullense Grill on Woodside in RWC a few weeks ago. Yes odd/weird batter but the fish itself was good...sorta puffy is how I'd describe it. My guess is the batter is super thin and the oil hotter then usual. It didn't live up to my expectations of a Baja fish taco but few do. I think I would have enjoyed the fish by itself on a plate or as an entree.

              Also had the goat/birra, that was very good to excellent, very tender, not gamy, must have stewed for a good while.

              El Grullense Grill
              768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

              1 Reply
              1. re: ML8000
                Melanie Wong Sep 30, 2010 11:35 AM

                Pancho's is a big taco for the price, well, at least the fish version is, haven't tried the shrimp one. I gave my mom a piece of the fried fish before starting to eat. When she bit into it, some juice squirted out!

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