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Mexican Restaurant Suggestions in Oakland/Berkeley..

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We love chili rellenos and thoroughly enjoy Mexican food.We live in Oakland and would love recommendations for restaurants (yes even dives) in the Oakland/Berkeley area.Thanks!

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  1. I like the place on Int'l Blvd near George Oren Tire, but I don't remember the name of it. It's in the same block, towards downtown. This might be classified as a "dive."

    For brunch I like La Estrellita on 12th at 5th.

    Then there's that old standby, Mexicali Rose.

    1 Reply
    1. re: GH1618

      Tijuana Restaurant.
      1308 International Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94606
      (510) 532-5575 ‎
      Report from 2010.

    2. Jalisco Cafe for carnitas. 1721 International Blvd.

      El Huarache Azteca for fresh masa items (gorditas, huaraches, quesadillas, sopes), chicken tinga, and on the weekend lamb barbacoa. http://www.elhuaracheaztec.com

      Tacubaya has great pozole. There have been good reports here on their chiles rellenos.

      Tamales Unicos de Cuernavaca, takeout only.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Adding link to our favorite tamale producer

        Tamales Unicos de Cuernavaca
        5751 Market St, Oakland, CA 94608

        1. re: Stephanie Wong

          Stephanie, I would have thought that you knew that link will go away in March. A more reliable address link


          As long as i'm here, how about La Mission? It is on my to-try list for the moles

          1. re: rworange

            I did know but am lazy , exactly why its disappearance will be a huge negative. Thanks for a more permanent link.

            1. re: rworange

              I tried a burrito at La Mission, very good quality but didn't try anything more or know what they did particularly. Could be very good.

              1. re: Stephanie Wong

                They have a Web site: http://www.tamalesunicos.com

                But it doesn't mention the International Blvd. location. More about tamales:


                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I haven't been back recently, but when I drove by I saw they are selling other things besides tamales. I'm thinking enchiladas but i could be wrong.

                  The address link I provided had that link to the website. My own preference is to credit the site paying for a data provider for any information found there,but that is just me. It seems the right thing to do. i personally can't be bothered searching the web when i can easily get addresses and such somewhere easily.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Was at the Maket St. store on Sat, 3/18 & was told Fruitvale wasn't working out --too far. I may have misunderstood the employee as my Spanish is mainly limited to food & "Donde esta los baños, por favor?"

                    1. re: Stephanie Wong

                      there's a for lease sign on the international location. both mi tamale and mi pupuseria cocupy this space..

              2. Picante in Berkeley has a good Chili Rellenos

                1. jalisco cafe ,1721 int, for the freshly made carnitas
                  la mexican, 3920 int, homemade tortilla and traditonal mex
                  santo coyote, 4806 int, for the adventurous gringo
                  el huarache azteca, 3842 int, different kind of mex.

                  1 Reply
                  1. One note about the carnitas at Jalisco, it is available Fri.-Sun. only - don't miss the salsa verde.

                    A few places not yet mentioned:

                    Taco Grill in Fruitvale - notable for pozole, sustainable meats. Mexican Ice Cream next door at Nieves Cinco de Mayo. Very nice owners of both establishments.

                    Casa Latina on San Pablo at Delaware - bakery and taquieria, with great carnitas tortas.

                    The nice, new place is Rumbo al Sur. Not strictly Mexican, but similar....

                    The divey-ist, also not strictly Mexican, are the great pupusas at Tamales mi Lupita trailer parked at Foothill/34th. Don't go after dark, but worth a detour!

                    La Borinequena - Tina's Tamales are the modern off-shoot, and the chicken tamale with green sauce is great.

                    Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                    3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Casa Latina
                    1805 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA

                    Taco Grill
                    3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Tamales Mi Lupitas
                    3340 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

                    Rumbo al Sur
                    4239 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: foodeye

                      Cocina Poblana on Hollis @ 65th is worth trying. Very nice moles. They also tout their Chile en nogada, though I haven't tried it. Nice bar and friendly service:


                      1. re: TopoTail

                        All gone. Went by to grab a bite this evening. Closed with "new restaurant" coming soon, even though their electronic menu sign was still on.

                        1. re: lmnopm

                          Wow, I almost went there for lunch yesterday.

                          1. re: lmnopm

                            Per their website:

                            "Due To Construction, Cocina Poblana Will Be closed shortly - We should be open within a week with a lot of new and fantastic changes."

                          2. re: foodeye

                            2nd taco grill, it's almost across from the fruitvale bart station,

                            they use orgainic meats and niman ranch beef. amazing burritos. reasonable pricing.

                            1. re: shanghaikid

                              Do you mean Cactus Taqueria across from Rockridge Bart?

                                1. re: andee

                                  No, Taco Grill across from Fruitvale BART

                                  1. re: kc72

                                    yes, amended my post to read fruitvale bart. the mexican ice cream place is nearby as well as the churro cart. save room for the later 2. unique and tasty!

                            2. There is also Dona Tomas, which does extremely nice higher end Mexican. Very nice, good tequila menu if you're into that sort of thing.

                              Dona Tomas
                              5004 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, CA 94609
                              (510) 450-0522

                              and its associated taqueria

                              1788 4th Street
                              Berkeley, CA 94710

                              I prefer Tacubaya actually of the two. They serve chilaquiles til 3PM on the weekend :-)

                              1. You could try Remy's on Haste St just above Telegraph (and Amoeba Records) in Berkeley for old school rellenos. Remy's was owned by the proprietor of La Fiesta and was bought by a former LF employee as I understand. They make a nice pozole on the weekends and their chips are good too. Prices are v reasonable and multiple TV's if you want to watch sports.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                  Have you tried Remy's flautas or green enchiladas? We've been apprehensive about trying the new place since La Fiesta was so consistently good for 50 years.

                                  1. re: sydthekyd

                                    I had chicken flautas at an office Xmas party 2 years ago. They were good, but not great. Not an enchilada kind of guy.

                                    We just went in there last Fall because all my other places were closed. The pozole was really good, better than say Zapata Tacqueria in the Castro, which is not bad itself. There were not many people in there on a Saturday night (except for newscaster Frank Sommerville) and we were served right away. I had gotten way out of the habit of going to La Fiesta, but I would say Remy's is just as good as LF was 20 years ago.

                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                      Thanks for the info. Nice to hear about the flautas. My guess is fresh they're probably a bit better so they could be the same. I use to get the flautas combo back in the day...2 flautas, rice, beans, guac...something like $3.25.

                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        It's still cheap, just not that cheap. I seem to remember a combo plate being around $7.

                                2. you might check out Cosecha cafe, one of my favorite drop-in lunch spots. It's the perfect drop-in spot, friendly and excellent food.


                                  8 Replies
                                    1. re: majordanby

                                      they have innovative ingredients in their salads, burritos, tacos. very fresh tasting.
                                      menu changes often.

                                      1. re: majordanby

                                        I like the Torta Ahogada "drowned sandwich", a specialty of Jalisco which is available as chicken or veggie. It's pretty messy so I ask for the sauce on the side and dip it.

                                        The tacos, while tasty with the fresh handmade tortillas, did not seem like good value. The ones I've gotten have had a really small amount of meat for the size of the tortilla. Not well balanced

                                        I always see a lot of people eating the Chicken Pozole. I haven't tried it yet.

                                        1. re: majordanby

                                          I particularly like their braised pork tacos. The pozole and the jicama salad are great. Unique quesadillas though I'm not a bit quesadilla fan. A great cup of cofee as well.

                                          1. re: majordanby

                                            The wild shrimp taco is good- expertly fried in their very toothsome tortillas.

                                            As drewski hinted, the tortillas are much larger than standard taqueria-sized tortillas. They are redolent with serious masa character. The quesadillas show this off to better effect than the tacos.

                                            Happy hour (2-6:30) is a good value- Trumer and Linden St. lager for $3.50, bottled Mexican beers for $2.50. I went a lot more frequently when they had Union Jack on tap- at $3.50, that was a steal.

                                            The salsa on the torta ahogada is woefully underseasoned, more like a tomato sauce than a salsa in both texture and flavor. That said, everything else in the sandwich is excellent. It would be ideal if you could take Cosecha's torta and soak it in the fiery chile de arbol salsa from Tamarindo's torta ahogada.

                                            Platos fuertes were recently added (entree with rice and beans) but I haven't tried any of them.

                                            They serve chilaquiles for brunch on Saturday, though I suspect the sauce would suffer from the same restraint with anything approaching picante which is a theme here.

                                            I don't go as often as I might due to their abridged hours- they're only open past 6 on Fridays.

                                          2. re: MagicMarkR

                                            I keep hearing good things about Cosecha but haven't tried it yet because they close at 6. Per the Web site they're now open until 9 on Fridays.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Per their website they are now open Thursday-Saturday until 9:30 p.m. The dinner menu is described as a "unique dish" plus the full taco/quesadilla menu.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                oh that's great news. i haven't been able to make it there during the day, and look forward to going soon in the evening.

                                          3. I had a very good relleno at Guadalajara Restaurant in Fruitvale last weekend. It's just north of the BART station and the El Novillo taco truck sets up in their parking lot.

                                            The relleno was atypically spicy hot, which is a good thing in my book. The breading was tender and puffy. The monterey jack inside seemed to have mixed in with the batter and had a thick cottage cheese like consistency instead of turning into a melty cheese mess. Their chips are good and the spanish rice is very flavorful, perfect for Caldo de Res. The mole sauce on my chicken enchilada was chocolatey and slightly sweet. I wished there had been more of it, but then I always wish that.

                                            1. I adore chiles rellenos and my favorite version is at Tacubaya. The fillings seem to change and usually involve goat or other cheese and some vegetables. It is in a big poblano chile and the batter is crisp - none of the grease laden scrambled egg coating drowned in Campbell's tomato soup business here. Only gripe is their food is overpriced but it is delicious.

                                              Really like the wild shrimp tacos (Fridays only do far) at Cosecha as well as the pork belly tacos. The quesadillas are also good. I'd skip the posole, Taco Grill is superior - better flavor, bigger bowl, better price, more varieties.

                                              Posole at Taco grill. I usually get the green chicken. Red chicken is also delicious. Haven't tried the white or pork yet. Love that they use better meats.

                                              Burritos and other stuff at Cancun who has the best salsa bar around. They use good meat too and much of their vegetables are organic and grown on their own farm. Pollo asado is very good.

                                              Enjoy the tamales at La Borinqueña, especially the pork and be sure to get it with "gravy."

                                              The nacatamales at Casa Latina in Berkeley are delicious and moist. Full of pork, capers, raisins,etc.

                                              The whole fried fish at Taco Zamorano is great. You see mostly guys in their Sunday best and cowboy hats getting these. The vegetable soup is a great bargain and very home style if a bit bland.

                                              Enjoy tacos at El Ojo de Agua truck. Like that they come with nopales.

                                              Guadalajara, Otaez and Juan's are good for big sloppy combo plates. Nothing fancy or special but delicious and reasonable. The former can be a cop hangout which unfortunately changes the atmosphere.

                                              Been disappointed with last couple of meals at Doña Tomás - nothing was very good (especially for the wait, price, noise) except their complimentary salsa which is always fabulous.

                                              El Huarache Azteca is great for different masa specialties. Warm friendly folks.

                                              Picante can be good. Setting and clientele are very North Berkeley with tons of shrieking children, especially in weekends.

                                              Not a fan of cactus - big lack of flavor IMHO.

                                              And if you're in the Fruitvale don't skip the vendors with cut up fruit - pineapple, watermelon, jicama, pineapple, coconut, mango, etc served with lime juice, salt and chile. Love getting the mixto which is the combo.

                                              ¡Buen provecho!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: fruti

                                                One more new spot to try: formerly only at Alemany Farmer's and Flea Market, Huarache Loco now has a very nice brick/mortar restaurant at Marin County Mart/Larkspur Landing. I tried the sope with "alambre" steak/bacon (not as meaty as it sounds - it had more thinly sliced grilled (mild) peppers and onions than thinly sliced meat), which was really good. The horchata was not too sweet and the other aguas looked good to. The outside tables are great on a nice day.

                                              2. New option, Los Cilantros, opening in La Peña today. Breakfast and lunch, 8am-2pm Tues.-Sat. 3105 Shattuck.



                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  That is a bit of news since the old restaurant (Valparaiso) was there forever and not very good to put it nicely. Regulars to La Pena wouldn't even go there.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    Is this related to the evening pre-post-show things they do?

                                                    I happened to be there a few days ago, had an empenada and a beer, was very annoyed by the service (sure, it's hard to manage a pre-show rush but if I order a beer before I show I expect to be sipping it in 4 or 5 minutes, not 20). The empenada was large and the meat well spiced, but the dough was rather flaccid. Not much of a data point.

                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                      That would have been Cafe Valpariso. Empanadas are their specialty. They've moved to Albany.

                                                      Los Cilantros opened today, they don't have empanadas on the menu, and they won't be open for dinner at first.

                                                  2. Part of a recent food tour of Uptown included a stop at Molcajete Cocina. It was one of our favorite stops. We didn't get a chance to dive deep into their menu since it was one of maybe a dozen stops, but everything we had there was excellent. Looking forward to returning there for a full meal.

                                                    1. I'm in Berkeley and a regular at La Mission on University. My favorite thing is breakfast -- huevos rancheros con chorizo and a watermelon agua fresca. But for dinner, I often get both chili rellenos and enchiladas verde with chicken plates, and have delicious leftovers for maybe two meals. Also love the Sopa Azteca (really good flavor) and anything with carnitas. We had a New Years Day brunch that included a "nachos bar" with their carnitas, beans, salsa, etc. Whenever they've messed up an order (not often), we get easy refunds and free stuff. They're nice people. We ran into a couple of staff at Comal and it made me realize I found LM's food a lot more satisfying than what I was eating at Comal.

                                                      La Mission's got parking so I can't see hassling 4th Street congestion to go to Tacubaya. YMMV.

                                                      Tried Picante and, besides it being more expensive and louder, the tortillas in the enchiladas were barely warm. They'd been thrown together on the spot.

                                                      Cactus on Solano was just bland, bland, bland.

                                                      Gordo on Telegraph has great burritos, happy to go there is La Mission isn't in the cards.

                                                      Juan's Place and Remy's on Haste make me really sad. I love that they've got table service. But their respective plates have just gotten bad. My food at JP tasted OLD and Remy's enchilada plate had fluorescent orange cheese and mysteriously cold spots.

                                                      1. We're more into seafood and aren't chile rellenos eaters, but you might feel the urge for something different occasionally. I'll list some places not mentioned by others (I scanned this quickly, so if anyone did post any of these, my apologies in advance):

                                                        La Calaca Loca
                                                        5199 Telegraph Ave, Oakland CA
                                                        Menu page: http://www.themenupage.com/lacalacalo...
                                                        A funky hidden gem. Their superb quesadillas and a spicy burger have won our hearts. The nachos are clean-tasting and light, not weighted down with grease and cheese.

                                                        Mariscos Estilo Sinaloa
                                                        3829 Foothill Blvd., Oakland, CA
                                                        No website
                                                        Do NOT get this confused with Mariscos Sinaloa, which is not related. This is newly opened, squeaky clean, bare-bones. The waitress speaks English. The cook doesn't. You need at least a passing familiarity with some Spanish words, because the entire small menu is completely in Spanish. It will also blow the top of your head off - SERIOUS chile heat! Shrimp ceviche fresh and big for $9. 7 Mares soup was surprisingly good for under $15, with a nice fish broth, not the usual shellfish stock.

                                                        444 Oak St., Oakland, CA
                                                        I'd say Cosecha is more consistent, but Nido does some interesting dishes few others do. The menu changes almost daily and it's worth checking out. Portions are small but quality is high. Food is on the spicy side; not unpleasantly so, but like Cosecha this is not the place you take your conservative parents, LOL (don't ask how we know this).

                                                        Somewhat out of the way, but really an easy jaunt down Hwy 80 North out of Berkeley:
                                                        3 Hermanas
                                                        12622 San Pablo Blvd., Richmond, CA
                                                        Not far past the north Hwy 80 exit for Barrett Ave. Excellent, greaseless chile rellenos and iced tea, but outside of those two things La Calaca/Oakland beats them by a mile. But for those chile rellenos, it's hard to beat the quality, size and price. All the Hispanic customers were ordering plates of them but nothing else.

                                                        1. La Mexicana on International Blvd, between Fruitvale and High St. Wed-Sunday, closes by 8:00. Family-owned, now by a former longtime waitress, great chili rellenos and wonderful handmade tortillas.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: sucker

                                                            Second for La Mexicana.
                                                            Just went for maybe the tenth time last night.
                                                            I love that each item has its own (wonderful) sauce, not just a generic red sauce or green sauce for everything.
                                                            And the handmade tortillas are the best I've ever had.

                                                          2. La Talavera has an amazing (and I'm sure highly caloric!) chili rellenos burrito that's big enough for two people to split. La Talavera also has lots of other great dishes, great chips and salsa, yummy agua frescas, and sangria! Plus it has outside tables to enjoy this beautiful weather. It's on the corner of Solano and Peralta, right across from the VCA hospital of the famed DOG and CAT doors.