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Friday, September 10, 2010

El Norteño's Goat and Tongue Tacos, the Upside of Getting Arrested

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 7:30 AM

Tacos clockwise from top left (all $1.50): goat, al pastor, chicken, tongue. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Tacos clockwise from top left (all $1.50): goat, al pastor, chicken, tongue.
Friday, September 10, 2010

SFoodie looked in the mirror last week and realized a horrible truth: As much time as we (aka Birdsall and Kauffman) have spent on Oakland's International Boulevard, cataloging all the ways we loved its taco trucks, this past year we've been neglecting los loncheros in favor of newcomers selling sisig tacos and kathi rolls. Who have we become? we wondered. How could we have we grown so far apart? Our shame was doubled when we tasted El Norteño's goat tacos.

El Norteño has chosen a brilliant spot: Bryant between Sixth and Seventh, just across from the Hall of Justice and a block away from the Flower Mart.

Chivo, or goat, makes a prominent appearance on the menu, showing up in tacos, tortas, burritos, and consomme (soup). On a taco, the chivo is superb: the braised meat has been teased into long, glossy filaments whose flavor hints at muskiness, then dabbed with a red-chile salsa ― just enough to flare in the mouth but not mask the deep flavor of the meat. The cooks were out of cabeza when we visited, so they subbed in lengua, braised just as long and just as well as the goat; all chewiness, all offal funk had dissipated.

Do we wish the cooks had sprinkled on a little more onion and cilantro? Yes, if we're being picky. Would we order the chicken again? Not when there's goat to spare, and carnitas and buche yet to try.

El Norteño: Bryant at Harriet (between 6th and 7th Streets), 756-1220.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodieFollow me at @JonKauffman.

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