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Thursday, March 27, 2014

East Bay Bite of the Week: Baja Fish Tacos at Cholita Linda

Posted By on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Cholita Linda's Baja fish taco (left) and carnitas (right) are both excellent. - MOLLY GORE
  • Molly Gore
  • Cholita Linda's Baja fish taco (left) and carnitas (right) are both excellent.

Recently, Cholita Linda finally opened its doors to Temescal after a very long wait building out a bright and festive space on what used to be a drab stretch on Telegraph. Until the brick and mortar came into being, Cholita Linda existed only as a popular mainstay at Off The Grid and the Temescal Farmers' Market on Sundays, a spot that quickly grew notorious for its Baja-style fish tacos.

See also: East Bay Bite of the Week: BBQ at Smokey J's

East Bay Bite of the Week: Cake with a Side of Scandal at Crixa Cakes

East Bay Bite of the Week: The Daily Waffle at Guerilla Café

What makes them locally famous is just how reliably good they are, how delicate and lasting their batter-fried crunch is. How deep and smokey the smeared chiles and salsa roja, how fresh and crunchy the cabbage. Wrapped in fresh tortilla and dribbled with crema, the tacos are about as perfectly balanced and textured as fish tacos get.

For the brick-and-mortar menu, the business has expanded its market offerings to include an array of hot pressed sandwiches and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, a nod to chef Vanessa Chavez's part-Peruvian heritage. The hot steak sandwich is also a gesture to her father's Mexican-Cuban background. The space itself is brilliantly lit with gaping skylights that spill sun onto a chromatic explosion of a restaurant. The theme is a bouncy, happy one, a well-timed arrival now that spring has sprung and we'll finally get our long stretches of daylight. The restaurant also makes terrific agua frescas, including (on the last visit) strawberry lime and a natural, syrupy thick passionfruit mango that was just killer.

One of the best things about Cholita Linda is the vibe. The rollicking, picnic-y, sunwashed rainbow of the inside, the rhythmic joviality of the music. In other words, if every restaurant cut holes in the ceiling and smeared bright paint on the walls, it might not be such a bad thing.

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Molly Gore


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