Food, Local, Restaurants & Drink

Oakland’s Taco Scene

My son’s favorite book these days is Dragons Love Tacos.  It has resulted in this often persnickety eater enjoying a soft taco on occasion.  Much like the dragons in the book, our household is not one for spicy salsa.  We don’t end up breathing fire, our taste buds just prefer the milder side.  Ground turkey with pineapple salsa, grilled shrimp with marinated onions and tomato, and black beans with corn, feta, and cilantro are just a few of our favorite combinations.  As we head towards Cinco De Mayo and celebrate Mexican culture through the country’s surprising victory over the French, tacos are likely at the forefront of many of our minds.  Oakland is full of spots to enjoy tacos in authentic form.  From carnitas to lengua, fish to carne asada; a warm blanket of corn tortilla and a shower of lime juice is the combination that makes them all devour-worthy.  You can’t go wrong at any of the below spots.  The hardest decision you face is whether to pair your selection with an ice cold Mexican Coke or a frosty Pacifico.

Cholita Linda – farmer’s market to brick and mortar is proof that the Baja fish taco at the top of the menu at this Temescal District hot spot is a game changer.  Wash it down with a fresh strawberry lime agua fresca and life is good.

Xolo – Dona Tomas has long been an Oakland staple for amazing Mexican cuisine.  Their casual taqueria in Uptown has tacos nailed.  Options include a crispy version with shredded beef, and soft in authentic form with pork, diced onion, and cilantro.  Don’t forget a basket of churros to top it off.

Aztecali – new in 2016 on Oakland Avenue, this neighborhood spot brings more Mexican roots to our town with three “guisados” to pick from: Tinga, Carnitas, and Barbacoa.  Chose your vessel, in this case taco, and you are good to go.

Obelisco – A friend put this Fruitvale Station spot on my radar.  It’s a bold statement to claim yourself as “Oakland’s Best Authentic Mexican Food”, to do so must mean you know what you are doing.  Quality meats and handmade organic corn tortillas have this place on my taco bucket list.

Gerardo’s – A hole in the wall on MacArthur in the Laurel District with a line always out the door, Gerardo’s has not messed with tradition, dishing up their tacos with meat, diced onion, cilantro, and salsa fresca.  Two important notes: cash only, and no carnitas :o(

Tacos Oscar – A local pop-up started by two former line cooks from Boot & Shoe Service, Tacos Oscar has gained momentum since their start at the end of 2014, in part due to a fried egg taco that has me curious.  You can find them at Starline Social Club twice a month, and if you are looking for dinner tonight – head to Boot & Shoe Service, Tacos Oscar will be there from 5 p.m – 10 p.m.

Tamarindo Antojeria – While this long standing resident of Old Oakland has an amazing menu of way more than tacos, for the purpose of this list I am going to call out their trio of crispy prawn tacos as reason alone to hit up this Mexican tapas spot.

Cosecha – I love Cosecha.  This revered spot in Swan’s Market is self-described as “a communion between California and Mexico”.  Their taco offerings are more extensive at lunch, and I will make the trip for the pork belly with marinated onions any day of the week.

Calavera – Calavera has come onto my radar since my recent visit to The Hive.  While it falls into the category of a slightly more upscale restaurant, the taco selections that include beer & chile braised duck and shredded chicken done in a chipotle-tomato stew have me curious.

Taco Truck

Taco Trucks…

So this is an area where options are endless, and opinions are strong.  For me to try to review and recap all the options in this category would take time, a lot of it.  What I can say is that the Fruitvale District is going to be the spot to hit for some of your top options.  The Comida Corridor of this historic area of town, once home to orchards of apricot and cherry trees, has endless options on four wheels.  From reviewing several lists and using a bit of Yelp for guidance, it seems that Tacos El Gordo, Taqueria Sinaloa, and Mi Grullense Taco Truck are three that should be at the top of the list.  For lots more info check out the links below.

John Birdsall did a great recap of the Top 7 Tacos in Fruitvale just a few days ago.

A great list on the Fruitvale options was also done by Berkeleyside a couple of years ago.

Worth noting this late coming to my research, Taqueria El Paisa…in the Fruitvale District and truly authentic.

Ready for a taco yet?  I decided to pair mine with a Pacifico :o)




Photo Credits: Collage Image at the top
Top Row (left to right): tacos sinaloa selection by Krista via flickr / Taco truck by gwen via flickr / HOLA (califa love), with edits, by joanne via flickr
Middle Row (left to right): Y e l l o w by FraserElliot via flickr / Mi Rancho, Mis Tacos by gwen via flickr / Coca-cola opener by gwen via flickr
Bottom Row (left to right): Cholita Linda tacos by Adrienne Schell / Tacos by Steve Rotman via flickr / Tacos El Gordo by Russell Mondy via flickr

Taco Truck Image: Tacos Bienvenidos by gwen via flickr








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