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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Tacos at Tacos Cala Are Terrific

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 at 8:00 AM

PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

When I ate at Cala some weeks ago, I was impressed with with frito mixto, the tamal de mijilloes, and the mixiote of black cod with red chile adobo. All delicious, and all — at $15-$36 — priced for dinner. To make better use of Cala’s space (it fronts onto Fell, with its rear end on a weird block of Hickory Street that doesn’t see much traffic, vehicular or pedestrian), chef-owner Gabriela Cámara has opened things up during the day for tacos.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

¿Tacos or Tacos?: Food-Truck Short Debuts at Next Week's Sonoma Film Fest

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 1:31 PM

San Francisco's interest in the food truck rang louder last year than the roar of a Husky generator. But are we in danger of becoming hipster douchebags, Yelping our enthusiasm for upscaled street food while the form's inventors ― the Latino heirs of taco-truck tradition ― wither in relative obscurity?

That's one of the questions raised by the short film by Robert Lemon, ¿Tacos or Tacos?, as it compares hipster food trucks with old-school loncheras in Austin, Texas. We published a YouTube link to the film last December after reading about it on the California Taco Trucks website. Now, Lemon's short is making its way through the film festival circuit, starting with its world theatrical premiere at the Sonoma International Film Festival, April 6-10 in downtown Sonoma.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

La Victoria and Luis Villavelazquez Roll Out Sunday Taco Supper

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 at 2:19 PM

LA VICTORIA
  • La Victoria

Slow Sundays

Where: La Victoria Mexican Bakery and Café, 2937 24th St. (at Alabama), 642-7120

When: Sun., April 10, starting at 5 p.m.

Cost: A la carte pricing; the Slow Sunday special deal gives you one salad, four tacos, dessert, and an agua fresca for $15

The rundown: Jaime Maldonado, who inherited the 60-year-old La Victoria panaderia from his dad, has had to walk the chalk line between honoring tradition and attracting the Mission's current residents, those of us who didn't grow up piling aluminum trays with conchas for after-school treats. Les Elements pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez ― a tenant at La Victoria's commissary kitchen ― has said he's helping the panaderia modernize its pan dulce. In a couple weeks he'll focus on tacos, as he and Maldonado start a regular Sunday night offering, beginning with tacos, salads, and agua frescas that promise to tiptoe that exceedingly fine chalk line.

Menu highlights: Jicama salad with pickled strawberries, edible flowers, and chile ($3); cocoa nib-roasted shredded pork tacos with molé ($4, or $12 for all four varieties); lemongrass-scented chicken tacos with huitlacoche and queso fresco ($4); potato-Soyrizo tacos with pickled carrot slaw ($4); cajeta rice pudding with almonds ($3)

Check out other upcoming events on SFoodie.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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Monday, October 11, 2010

San Francisco's Best Latino Taco Trucks

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 7:30 AM

El Norteno tacos, clockwise from top left: goat, al pastor, chicken, tongue. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • El Norteno tacos, clockwise from top left: goat, al pastor, chicken, tongue.
It was Eat Real that shamed us: So much food served up from trucks, so little of it, Jonathan Kauffman and I realized, from mobile vendors who toughed the sometimes mean streets of San Francisco long before truck food trended French, or Filipino, or TyFlo. In the weeks since, we've concentrated on grazing the city's traditional loncheras. Here, in descending order of deliciousness, are six of the city's most prominent.

1. El Norteño: Bryant at Harriet (between Sixth and Seventh Streets).

What to get: Goat and tongue tacos, $1.50 each.

Grade: A

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Chicken Tacos from Gaby and Liz

Posted By on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 7:51 AM

From left, carnitas, chicken, and carne asada tacos, $1.75 each. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • From left, carnitas, chicken, and carne asada tacos, $1.75 each.
Friday, October 8, 2010

JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
SFoodie's roundup of O.G. trucks ends at the southeast corner of Jackson Park, with the whirr of the Acme brewery in your ears, and at 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday, kids from Daniel Webster school filtering down the hill for chicken tacos or hairspray can-size drinks from Gaby and Liz.

This is hardly the truck to stoke a cult following ― no Eat Real or Off the Grid appearances is likely for this truck, source of hot-dog-heavy monster tortas and burritos calibrated to satisfy the appetites of working guys in Dickies coveralls. The tacos, too, are more about face cramming than anything resembling finesse, even by truck standards.

The carne asada? Don't go there, unless you're a fan of tough, frizzled meat bits, hardened on a flattop glazed with enough oil to deep fry. Chicken is best: the onion-and-chipotle tweaked tinga, or the plain version, soft fibers, boiled, that taste vaguely like Mexican oregano. The stunningly homey carnitas are a sort of novelty: pale clumps of boiled pork leg radiating delicate animal funk. Onion and cilantro are at a minimum, but the acutely tangy tomatillo sauce, textured like Bolognese, hides a multitude of flaws.

Gaby and Liz Taco Truck: Corner of Mariposa and Carolina

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tonight: Tacos and Fire Rage at Amnesia

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Slinging tacos and heat: Morgan Maki.
  • Slinging tacos and heat: Morgan Maki.
Tonight's the first of a monthly convergence of food and liquor and jams at Amnesia. Bi-Rite butcher and charcutier Morgan Maki comes bearing Tacos and Fire this evening at about 7 p.m., serving up the first part of that equation: a chorizo-like crumble of rough-ground pork and chicken, browned and deglazed with Corona, then mashed up with roasted tomato and the herby kind of salsa verde (one taco for $3, two for $5), all spooned into tortillas. Maki says he has enough for about a hundred tacos. Similar food events are slated for Amnesia on the fourth Thursday of the month. Most other Thursdays, Maki plans to serve bar snacks and other nibbles, starting next week.

Tonight's fire? Maybe that's a reference to the drinks mixed up by Brendan Thomas and Josey Baker. Or no: Maki says the fire refers to the "sweet records" he and friends plan to unleash on Amnesia. By the way, Baker will soon begin offering his home-baked bread Thursdays at Amnesia (he's been selling it weekly at Gravel and Gold). Ask him about it tonight.

Amnesia: 853 Valencia (at Cunningham), 970-0012.

Follow us: @sfoodie.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Tofu-Kimchi Tacos from TaKorea

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 7:45 AM

From left, on the hood of a stranger's truck parked on Brannan, TaKorea's vegetarian, chicken, pork, and beef taco, $2 each. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • From left, on the hood of a stranger's truck parked on Brannan, TaKorea's vegetarian, chicken, pork, and beef taco, $2 each.
Friday, September 17, 2010

JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
Mr. Cho's Korean fusion truck flaunts a Kanye clone bear in samurai armor and sunglasses, fronting a taco menu with four basic proteins. There's the Bulgogi Bomb, Hell of Earth Fire Pork, Chicken!!!, and ― because, what, only carnivores have a sense of humor? ― Vegetarian.

What emerges from TaKorea's pickup window is more delicious than it needs to be, considering the truck serves mostly as late-night commissary for the hammered at Bar Basic. Cho's careful about his tortillas (last night's were fresh and crepe-thin), the red cabbage slaw heaped on top laid down a nicely dirty foundation of soy and toasted sesame oil, and the single disc of house-pickled truck-pickled cucumber kimchi dotting each was fantastic.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Al Fresco Al Pastor from Tacos San Buena

Posted By on Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 7:35 AM

A four-taco plate, $8. Clockwise from top left: Al pastor, pollo, carnitas, cabeza. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • A four-taco plate, $8. Clockwise from top left: Al pastor, pollo, carnitas, cabeza.
Jonathan Kauffman
A four-taco plate, $8. Clockwise from top left: Al pastor, pollo, carnitas, cabeza.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The architects who designed Sidney Walton Park, at Jackson and Front, modeled it after an alpine meadow, ringed in tall buildings. They predicted, too, that on sunny days the park would attract a certain species of fauna, one that rolled up its sleeves a little higher and reclined with a book for a few gloriously selfish minutes of escape. They wouldn't have guessed that a half-century on, the park would become an ideal spot for a taco picnic, the provisions supplied by a truck parked two blocks west on Pacific.

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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.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Carnitas Taco at El Rancho Grande

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 7:45 AM

Carnitas (left, $2.55) and fish tacos ($3.55). - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Carnitas (left, $2.55) and fish tacos ($3.55).
Friday, August 27, 2010

JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
Maybe the best thing about this month-old, hyper-yellow taqueria is that its carved out a place on an otherwise under-taco'd stretch of Divis. It's the kind of relentlessly well-lit place you reckon you'll end up after a night of drinking, and you could do worse. There's a salsa bar ― the salsas don't blow you away, but the setup is stocked with griddle-blistered whole jalapenos. The fish taco is fine: ragged pieces of something wihte and innocuous (basa maybe), browned in plenty of oil on the flattop, with a welter of onion and cilantro under mild-tasting guajillo salsa. The carnitas are better. The meat's soft and steamy and tastes like cinnamon, which is not what you expect ― sort of like finding a Mission-scale taqueria along a quiet stretch of upper Divis.

El Rancho Grande: 855 Divisadero (at McAllister), 673-8226.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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