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Oct 8, 2011 02:09 PM

Coliseum Way pupusas [Oakland]

I had an errand to run at the Coliseum this morning, and ran the gantlet of taco trucks and stands on Coliseum Way, where there's a Latino flea market on the weekends. I noticed a couple of new additions: inside the market itself there was an upscale looking truck called Tacos With A Twist and farther down the street was the bright green El Sierreno Sinaloaense taco truck . I was going to get a "benchmark" carnitas taco from several of them, but changed my mind when I approached the El Sierreno Sinaloaense truck.

When I saw "Sinaloaense" I wondered if they had fish tacos. As I walked up I saw that "Mariscos" was painted on the front and the sides and changed my plans, since seafood was obviously the way to go. But as I was pondering what to order I realized the young woman setting up at the table in front of the truck was getting ready to make pupusas on a small freestanding griddle and changed my plans yet again.

I usually am disappointed in pupusas -- I find them too heavy and the fillings bland. These, however, were outstanding with a delicately crisp surface to the tender, fluffy masa. I ordered two cheese but she gave me one with some of the meat filling by mistake and it was a happy mistake because it turned out to be some porky, well-caramelized carnitas (I got my carnitas after all!). She topped it off with a generous tong full of curtido, which was also very good, striking a balance between being slightly pickled and fresh and crisp. There was some hot sauce on a nearby table if you wanted it.

Apparently the regular weekday spot for this truck in on the Oakland Embarcadero near 5th street. I suspect the pupusas are only when they're parked on Coliseum Way on the weekends. Note that at 10:15 they were still in the process of setting up. The trucks in this area tend to shut down by mid-afternoon as well.

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  1. Ruth, I have to ask, is there a reason for the disparity between how you spelled the word above and the way the truck spells it as "Sinalouense"? It seems that both you and the truck may have misspelled the canonical form, which according to Google is "Sinaloense", to mean Sinaloan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tpc

      I copied and pasted it from the yelp listing before I uploaded the pictures. I should have checked the spelling!

    2. seen this truck often on the embarcadero. never any patrons. could be they have rushes at certain times. didn't see pupusa offered.

      had the steak burrito(4.50) meat was chewy and burrito overall wasn't that fresh.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shanghaikid

        I wouldn't expect great steak burritos from a truck that's advertising mariscos. Taco trucks are like Chinese restaurants: they serve the standards, but they probably don't put as much into them as they do their specialties.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          In Mexican Spanish, the correct way to make an adjective to imply the English equivalent structure of "Sinaloan" would be "Sinaloense" without any "u" and the "a" in Sinaloa would be dropped to form the descriptive adjective term. But it's their truck and they can spell it however they would like.

          I'm always amused by Spanish speakers who spell crab (the food you eat, not the body varmit) "jaiva" which is not correct. It is really "jaiba" but because b and v sound alike, those who are not so formally educated go by the sound and misspell the word.

          Many people who come here are usually not recipients of formal education because there is very little public education in Mexico. It is almost all exclusively private school which can cost more than a lot of families can afford.

          The first time I was in Sinaloa, I was very surprised to see cabbage used in place of lettuce. Fine with me, I grew up on sauerkraut (German type of "curtido") and love al lthe kimchi I can get in my hands and mouth. But it was surprising to see acres and acres of cabbage. It's a nice part of Mexico.

      2. Update: I went by this location last Saturday, and the pupusa maker was there, but the truck was different. I have no idea what the relationship is between the pupusa maker and the two trucks, but it seems that the location is more important than the identity of the truck. Still great pupusas!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I went to a wedding that had this truck a few weeks ago (but haven't visited before or since, so not sure about the truck/ownership change).

          The tacos were good! Set menu so that they could feed the crowds, so no pupusas, but I had a fish and an al pastor taco I liked a lot. Great addition to the cocktail/photo hour after the ceremony and before dinner.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Further update:

            The name of the truck at this location (Coliseum Way at Julie Ann) is Las Rancherita. Still have a pupusa grill out front on the weekends, still excellent pupusas. Of note is that the "hot sauce" is better than the typical dreadful tomato-soup. At least it's a tiny bit spicy.

            I also got a burrito from the truck, and the actual reason I'm posting is that the salsa in the little container they gave me is quite good.