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Tortilla Soup

OliverB Jun 11, 2013 01:55 PM

Who makes the best homemade tortilla soup and where are your favorite places to order it in the Bay Area?

I'm not sure if this is considered destination/restaurant food, but as a native East Coaster, it's still relatively new and interesting to me. I've yet to find any really amazing homemade tortilla soup in the restaurants I've tried in the Mission... can any recommend their favorite places?

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  1. Melanie Wong RE: OliverB Jun 13, 2013 11:28 PM

    Hmm, it's been a long time since I've had it, but I used to get tortilla soup from La Canasta. Take out only or delivery. What I liked about it is that this is a vegetarian version. Very light and not at all heavy or greasy. I wouldn't call it amazing though. A basic version with no avocados or eggs. The taste of the chiles comes through quite directly.


    1. h
      hungree RE: OliverB Jun 13, 2013 11:30 PM

      Nido's chicken pozole is great. It comes with a tortilla.

      1 Reply
      1. re: hungree
        Melanie Wong RE: hungree Jun 13, 2013 11:32 PM

        But wouldn't that be a fresh, soft tortilla with the pozole?

        Tortilla soup has fried tortilla strips added to it at the last minute for crunch.

      2. d
        dkenworthy RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 06:31 AM

        I really like the Tortilla Soup at Juanita Juanita in Sonoma. But they only serve it in the winter, and you always get a big dose of attitude with it. But on a rainy day nothing beats sitting at the counter with a big bowl of this.

        1. wolfe RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 06:38 AM

          Picante in Berkeley is my favorite version . I do add to it with what I call soup extender from the salsa bar.
          Sopa Azteca
          Chicken soup with roasted tomato and pasilla negro chiles with avocado & crispy tortilla strips.

          1. pane RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 10:13 AM

            I used to really like the one at Chilango on Church/Market; it was my go-to take-out soup when I was sick. Fresh fried tortilla strips, gentle flavor to the broth, lumps of avocado and cotija. I haven't been in about a year, but that's the one that comes to mind.

            6 Replies
            1. re: pane
              OliverB RE: pane Jun 14, 2013 12:11 PM

              Thanks everyone!

              I'm going to try Chilango this weekend and will add the rest to my 'East Bay list' for future reference - I appreciate the suggestions!

              1. re: OliverB
                pane RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 03:26 PM

                Tip: I've found the soup better at lunch. Both cheaper at that time, and a couple times I've had it at dinner and found it too salty. Not sure if that's luck or because it was prepared early in the day and left to boil/concentrate a bit too long.

                1. re: OliverB
                  Windy RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 05:12 PM

                  It doesn't hurt that they have the best tortillas around. Take a few fresh ones home and make chilaquiles.

                  Their carnitas and ceviche with oranges are also good. And the hot chocolate with churros.

                  1. re: OliverB
                    Prabhakar Ragde RE: OliverB Jun 15, 2013 05:26 AM

                    I had the tortilla soup at weekday lunch at Chilango about a week ago, and it was really mediocre. Tortilla strips were soggy, broth pallid, shredded chicken chewy and boring. And it cost $10. Quite a disappointment.

                    Also, even though I was the only one in the restaurant, the server was constantly chatting on his cellphone, and paid me only minimal attention. I got up and replaced my own spoon, which was dirty when given to me. I didn't see any reason to go back.

                    1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                      Windy RE: Prabhakar Ragde Jun 18, 2013 12:05 AM

                      That's a shame. I've only had it once, and it was good. Bad service makes a difference.

                      1. re: Windy
                        Prabhakar Ragde RE: Windy Jun 18, 2013 06:02 PM

                        I can overlook bad service if the food is good.

                        I wonder if the OP would consider branching out and trying pozole and/or menudo? I want to try these at Gallardos when they reopen in their new location on 18th.

                2. e
                  ernie in berkeley RE: OliverB Jun 14, 2013 10:40 AM

                  Not quite a tortilla soup per se, but La Mission Taqueria in Berkeley has an excellent posole, with tortilla chips on the side so you can crumble them into the soup as you eat so they won't get too soggy.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ernie in berkeley
                    Windy RE: ernie in berkeley Jun 14, 2013 05:13 PM

                    Pozole isn't sopa Azteca though. The tortillas are incidental.

                    This is a Chow recipe. I prefer a clearer chicken broth.


                  2. m
                    maryd5566 RE: OliverB Jun 15, 2013 07:53 PM

                    Tacubaya on 4th Street in Berkeley has a very good chix tortilla soup. I always get the tortilla strips on the side so I can add them a little at a time to keep them crisp. The broth is well spiced, without being too spicy-hot. $7.75 for a good size bowl.

                    1. t
                      TopoTail RE: OliverB Jun 16, 2013 02:01 PM

                      I love sopa de tortilla and have sampled many versions both here and in Mexico. I agree that Picante makes a nice version, though it seems me the broth isn't quite as flavorful as it used to be. Ditto Tacubaya on 4th Street in Berkeley, which I'd rate slightly above Picante.

                      Another candidate, perhaps better than the first two, is Tamarindo in Oakland. My only complaint there is that the serving is so small. But it's definitely worth a try.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: TopoTail
                        wolfe RE: TopoTail Jun 16, 2013 03:08 PM

                        The "soup extender" enhances the Picante flavor.

                        1. re: wolfe
                          TopoTail RE: wolfe Jun 17, 2013 02:09 PM

                          I'll give that a try the next time, but first I'm going back to Tamarindo. Do you mean the salsas Picante has in squeeze bottles and is there a particular one you use for your "soup extender"?

                      2. The Dive RE: OliverB Jun 18, 2013 09:11 AM

                        I always get the tortilla soup at Mijita at the Ferry Building. A little overpriced, but a a big bowl that makes a nice lunch.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: The Dive
                          foodeye RE: The Dive Jun 18, 2013 09:32 AM

                          I agree that is a good rendition, but note that it is a blackboard special, so it's not available every day. If it's not on the board, it is worth asking if they might have some...

                          The abondigas soup on the regular menu is good, too, and so is their pozole - which is usually a Wednesday special, but not too regularly in summer.

                          1. re: foodeye
                            OliverB RE: foodeye Jun 18, 2013 10:10 AM

                            Thank you, I'll give Mijita a try as well!

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