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One day in SF and want to go to an amazing taqueria!!

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crystalrae Apr 1, 2011 12:34 PM

I am having lunch in SF and want an awesome taqueria. I want the awesome hole in the wall kind with just amazing food and good salsa! Where do I go???

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: crystalrae Apr 1, 2011 12:36 PM

    For al pastor, my favorite is Taqueria San Jose. Their chorizo is very good, too. For other meats, I'd go somewhere else. Conveniently located next to 24th St. BART.

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    Taqueria San Jose
    2830 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      MandalayVA RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 1, 2011 01:14 PM

      THIS, although I'd add the carnitas to the list.

      1. re: MandalayVA
        Robert Lauriston RE: MandalayVA Apr 1, 2011 01:19 PM

        Carnitas is one of the meats I've found disappointing at TSJ, though my longtime favorite for carnitas is gone, so I have no other suggestion.

    2. mariacarmen RE: crystalrae Apr 1, 2011 01:13 PM

      you're going to get a million answers to this. My favorite is La Taqueria on Mission and 26th. Their carne asada is awesome. For hole-in-the-wall, there's Taqueria Cancun, which I don't like but others here like a lot - also on Mission, between 18th and 19th. I also like El Buen Sabor at 18th and Valencia, and Pancho Villa, on 16th between Mission and Valencia.

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      Taqueria Cancun
      2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      La Taqueria
      2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

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

      Sabor
      72 N Almaden Ave, San Jose, CA 95110

      12 Replies
      1. re: mariacarmen
        Civil Bear RE: mariacarmen Apr 1, 2011 10:09 PM

        I'll second La Taqueria. Great carne asada burritos and tacos, fantastic guacamole, and the salsa verde in the plastic squeeze bottles is the best in town.

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        La Taqueria
        2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        1. re: Civil Bear
          l
          LadyBeretta RE: Civil Bear Apr 1, 2011 11:31 PM

          Everytime I return to the S.F. area, La Taqueria is a must! The carne asada anything is great! The agua frescas are soooo refreshing!

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          La Taqueria
          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

        2. re: mariacarmen
          Robert Lauriston RE: mariacarmen Apr 2, 2011 09:52 AM

          Nothing against La Taqueria, but it's at the other end of the spectrum from a hole in the wall or a taco truck. It was on the SF Chronicle's top 100 restaurants list for years, and consequently became the most popular place for tourists and people who don't know the neighborhood. They get away with charging twice what some other places do.

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          La Taqueria
          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            Civil Bear RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 2, 2011 10:52 AM

            So what is the definition of a hole in the wall? The setting is the same as most other Mission Street taquarias (except that La Taquaria is typically full). Yeah, the prices are higher than the $2 tacos found at most taco trucks in SF, but the quality and flavor are also higher.

            1. re: Civil Bear
              Robert Lauriston RE: Civil Bear Apr 2, 2011 10:59 AM

              I don't think La Taqueria serves anything that tastes as good as Taqueria San Jose's al pastor.

              The burritos are where they really gouge.

              -----
              La Taqueria
              2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                Civil Bear RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 2, 2011 02:42 PM

                SJ's al pastor certainly has it's fans, as it has been written up almost as much as LT. For me the flavor of the orange liquid (grease?) that runs off of it is off-putting, but that is just me.

              2. re: Civil Bear
                m
                ML8000 RE: Civil Bear Apr 2, 2011 11:04 AM

                Are tacos up to $2 at taco trucks in SF? Wow, they're still $1.25 in Oakland.

                Any way, LT's taco's are large, use quality ingredients but are on the bland side....that's my biggest criticism but it's still good. I have a couple of friends that like LT so if I'm with them I go, no complains, just not the first choice. I think LT was one of the first to Californicate tacos...no lard in beans, etc. Oh well, not a bad situation with so many good taquerias.

                1. re: ML8000
                  Civil Bear RE: ML8000 Apr 2, 2011 02:37 PM

                  Wow, that is the first I have heard anyone use the word bland to describe La Taqueria. For me the flavors are fresh and bright, and the carne asada & salsa verde are anything but bland.

                  1. re: Civil Bear
                    m
                    ML8000 RE: Civil Bear Apr 2, 2011 02:56 PM

                    Really? I've been saying it for a long time. A google search finds a few...even here:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3710...

                    1. re: ML8000
                      Civil Bear RE: ML8000 Apr 2, 2011 07:23 PM

                      Ah, good find. I must have missed that thread since I didn't join Chowhound until 2006...

                      1. re: Civil Bear
                        m
                        ML8000 RE: Civil Bear Apr 2, 2011 07:34 PM

                        I didn't join until '06 either...I just googled; LT, San Francisco and bland. Any way, LT is fine, just not my top preference. The fact there's almost a fight any time burritos and taquerias are bought up is a good thing...because it means we're spoiled stupid with choices.

                  2. re: ML8000
                    Ruth Lafler RE: ML8000 Apr 3, 2011 05:13 PM

                    They put beans on tacos? Blasphemy!

            2. m
              ML8000 RE: crystalrae Apr 1, 2011 01:58 PM

              You will get a million different answers and there's websites dedicated to the search.

              I'd skip the taquerias and go to a taco truck, like El Tonayense near the Best Buy at 14th/Harrison or Spear St/Folsom. Carnitas, al pastor are good.

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              El Tonayense
              2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

              3 Replies
              1. re: ML8000
                mariacarmen RE: ML8000 Apr 1, 2011 10:58 PM

                good call.

                1. re: ML8000
                  escargot3 RE: ML8000 Apr 2, 2011 06:18 PM

                  had the spicy chicken the other nite before going across the bridge...it was really excellent.

                  1. re: escargot3
                    m
                    ML8000 RE: escargot3 Apr 2, 2011 07:07 PM

                    I usually get a torta, either al pastor or carnitas. The grilled onions and peppers gives it Italian beef sorta vibe but the salsa and meat is definitely Mexican. I'll have to remember the spicy chicken...sounds like it would be perfect as a couple of tacos for a snack.

                2. artychokeasana RE: crystalrae Apr 2, 2011 10:39 AM

                  Naming a Best Taqueria is like the 5th rail of San Francisco dining...people are very loyal to their taqueria of choice you might even say intractable. My favorite taqueria is and always has been La Coroneta in Glen Park. Their steak and prawn burrito is pretty terrific, LC used to qualify as a hole in the wall but in recent years they have expanded to the Mission, Burlingame and San Carlos-a mini empire really.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: artychokeasana
                    Ruth Lafler RE: artychokeasana Apr 3, 2011 05:18 PM

                    That's 3rd rail -- I have no idea what a 5th rail would be, but 3rd rail refers to the rail that carries electricity powering the trains in systems like BART. Since it's electrified, it's dangerous, even deadly, to touch. Thus the expression "3rd rail" for an issue/topic that is dangerous to touch upon.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      artychokeasana RE: Ruth Lafler Apr 3, 2011 05:51 PM

                      I meant third rail-thanks for the correction.

                  2. v
                    vulber RE: crystalrae Apr 2, 2011 04:59 PM

                    taqueria vallarta has the best and cheapest (excluding competitors' happy hour tacos) tacos in SF at $1.50 a pop, my friends from san diego will often say that it's the only place in SF that can compete w/ southern california tacos

                    1. scarmoza RE: crystalrae Apr 2, 2011 05:33 PM

                      My favorite Mexican menu in San Francisco is currently El Huarache Loco. (I"m still mourning the loss of my queridos, Marta's @ Jay n' Bees, y tambien Mi Lindo Yucatan.) El Hurache Loco is a mobile kitchen that sets up at the Alemany every Saturday and Sunday. I usually order the Consumé without meat (it's not vegetarian at all though) but everything on the menu is delicious. If you go on a Saturday (morning to early afternoon) the Farmers Market will be going off at that location. Sunday is the Flea Market.

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                      El Huarache Loco
                      100 Alemany Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94110

                      1. anthonyrza RE: crystalrae Apr 2, 2011 06:42 PM

                        I wasn't impressed when I sampled the Al Pastor at San Jose- dude didn't even slice it off the spit. I prefer El Farolito's version- more char. Taqueria La Cumbre for Carne Asada. The Carnitas at La Taqueria is generous and GOOD- but nothing spectacular. El Gallo Giro for Carnitas...or cross the bay bridge to Guadalajara or Tacos el gordo.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: anthonyrza
                          Windy RE: anthonyrza Apr 3, 2011 10:18 AM

                          La Cumbre is for carne asada burritos though, not tacos. And La Taqueria for anything bland; the chicken is good.

                          Taqueria San Jose's al pastor isn't as good as El Gordo's, but it's the best I've found in the city. (Ask them to slice it off the spit). Also the place has been scrubbed superclean lately. They also have inexpensive carrot juice pressed to order.

                          -----
                          La Taqueria
                          2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          El Gordo
                          4201 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                          La Cumbre
                          28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                          1. re: Windy
                            Robert Lauriston RE: Windy Apr 3, 2011 10:25 AM

                            La Cumbre changed a lot in recent years.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Windy RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 3, 2011 10:29 AM

                              I've been there. The carne asada burritos are no different from when I first ate them 20+ years ago except, except they cost more.

                              1. re: Windy
                                Robert Lauriston RE: Windy Apr 3, 2011 10:33 AM

                                I was never into their carne asada. The carnitas used to be great but the last time I went in they were average and they no longer had the unique hot sauce.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  mariacarmen RE: Robert Lauriston Apr 3, 2011 03:43 PM

                                  Yeah, to me, La Cumbre's carne asada used to be good and flavorful, but now it's bland.

                                  -----
                                  La Cumbre
                                  28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                    m
                                    ML8000 RE: mariacarmen Apr 3, 2011 03:59 PM

                                    I think they stopped seasoning/salting the beef before grilling it. I'll order if I see them cooking it right then and salt it myself.

                                    The pollo asada is very good however and it's my usual order if I'm there. The charbroiler grill makes a differnece.

                                2. re: Windy
                                  artychokeasana RE: Windy Apr 3, 2011 10:58 AM

                                  I went to Le Cumbre about 6 years ago soley because Calvin Trillin had mentioned in an essay that it was his daughter's favorite taqueria. Given her lineage I figured she was probably on to something-meh. I thought it was very average and kinda grimy.

                                  1. re: artychokeasana
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: artychokeasana Apr 3, 2011 11:12 AM

                                    La Cumbre was one of the best burrito places in SF 30 years ago. I think they were the first to do carne asada and the first to offer black beans.

                              2. re: Windy
                                a
                                Andrew H RE: Windy Apr 3, 2011 09:33 PM

                                La Cumbre used to be where you went after getting tired of El Toro. LC was the gold standard for a long time in the mid 80's. It has the wonderful revolutionary Burrito Mama painted on the wall. Its not as good as it used to be but still decent.

                                Has anyone been to Tlaloc? Its related to the outstanding east bay Taqueria Cancun.

                                -----
                                Taqueria Cancun
                                2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                La Cumbre
                                28 N B St, San Mateo, CA 94401

                                El Toro
                                113 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448

                                1. re: Andrew H
                                  mariacarmen RE: Andrew H Apr 4, 2011 12:57 AM

                                  Tlaloc on Commercial? it's decent, tho very Americanized, in my opinion.
                                  There's a Taqueria Cancun in the East Bay? i only know the 3 here in the City...

                                  -----
                                  Taqueria Cancun
                                  2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                  1. re: mariacarmen
                                    m
                                    ML8000 RE: mariacarmen Apr 4, 2011 01:57 AM

                                    Cancun Taqueria in Berkeley is not related to Taqueria Cancun in SF...different name order, places.

                                    Cancun in Berkeley grows it's own organic produce locally and use Niman Ranch meat. it is a bit Americanized, excellent salsa choices however.

                                    1. re: ML8000
                                      escargot3 RE: ML8000 Apr 4, 2011 09:08 AM

                                      Tho I'm often more interested in "more traditional" cooking, in this case, I think that Cancun is a fabulous and welcomed addition to the taqueria scene, with their great meats, lottsa veggies, and attention to flavor and organic foods. I especially love the addition of nopales as a side dish.

                                  2. re: Andrew H
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Andrew H Apr 4, 2011 08:56 AM

                                    La Cumbre predated El Toro by over a decade. When they remodeled in 1972, it was the first taqueria in SF. Before that, the model was like La Palma, where a grocer or butcher would sell food to go. El Faro, which served the first Mission-style burrito in 1961, was at that time a grocery store. La Cumbre started out as a meat market.

                                    Tlaloc, the Berkeley Cancun, and Chilayo have the same owners and share a farm.

                                    http://sabormexicano.com/

                              3. v
                                virtualguthrie RE: crystalrae Apr 4, 2011 10:56 PM

                                I recommend telling us more about what your looking for. LIke many other posters have said you will get many conflicting answers and all the taquerias excel at different items.

                                Taqueria San Jose probably has the best Al Pastor tacos and decent salsa.

                                El Farolito is pretty good all around, is definitely a hole in the wall kind've dive although I don't really find that to be an important criteria. Definitely a burrito spot with great salsa verde. The Al Pasto, Carne Asada and grilled chicken can be very good but consistency is an issue here and at many taquerias.

                                Pancho Villa is one of the better all around Taquerias with one of the best salsa bars and a good selection of freshly grilled meats. It's a little on the pricy side but I would say it's a textbook example of the San Francisco Taqueria

                                A lot of people like La Taqueria, I can't bring myself to go there because it seems to expensive but I've heard the meats are good there.

                                La Cumbre is probably the best Carne Asada burrito with a decent variety of salsas.

                                Taqueria Cancun is known for the veggie burrito and they put fresh avocado in their burritos which is a nice touch (so does Farolito)

                                I would skip the El Tonayense taco trucks, they used to be decent but I've had some pretty bad tacos there. If you're really looking for tacos I would head to El Grullense in RWC or get rec's for the taco trucks in Oakland.

                                OK, best of luck, I hope you're not totally confused after reading through this thread.

                                -----
                                Taqueria Cancun
                                2288 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                El Tonayense
                                3150 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                La Taqueria
                                2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                Pancho Villa
                                3071 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                                El Tonayense
                                2598 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: virtualguthrie
                                  artychokeasana RE: virtualguthrie Apr 5, 2011 07:55 AM

                                  Is El Grullense on El Camino Real in RWC? Or is it across from the Costco?

                                  1. re: artychokeasana
                                    m
                                    ML8000 RE: artychokeasana Apr 5, 2011 10:20 AM

                                    El Grullense has several locations in RWC with slight variations, like El Grullense Grill, EG Restaurant, El Grullense E&E, etc. I assume they're all owned by the same people. One is across from the RWC Costco.

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

                                    1. re: artychokeasana
                                      v
                                      virtualguthrie RE: artychokeasana Apr 5, 2011 12:34 PM

                                      There's a bunch of them and they're all a bit different. I like the older locations with the pared down menu, my favorite is the one on El Camino @ Sequoia Station which ironically enough used to be a taco bell.

                                      1. re: virtualguthrie
                                        artychokeasana RE: virtualguthrie Apr 5, 2011 03:34 PM

                                        I've long beened confused by the number of El Grullense's in the RWC area-thanks to you both for helping to clarify.

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