Taqueria Vallarta – San Francisco

Taqueria Vallarta Cabeza and Lengua Tacos

Taqueria Vallarta
3033 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Neighborhood: Mission

Rated: ♣♣

Sam and I were wandering around the Mission when we decided that we wanted to try some of the famous authentic Mexican fare that everyone talks about.  We passed by a few taquerias which offered standard tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.

The Scene

When we saw Taqueria Vallarta, there was a line out the door, leading to what looked like an indoor taco stand with tortillas constantly steaming and 8-9 different meats continuously heated in a split square.  The line out the door was already a good sign, but what really attracted me here was the mention of Sesos, Cabeza and Lengua.  That’s cow brain, head and tongue in Spanish.  I’ve already tested the Cabeza and Lengua at my favorite taco truck in San Mateo, so I thought I’d give those a try here.  Sorry Sesos, I’ll have to try you later. .  A tip for the wise, the cashier is at the very back of the restaurant where you can also order other Taqueria delights.

I thought one of the funniest things about this place was the legend of the 49ers that they had in place.  You can tell that someone really loved the ‘9ers (and who wouldn’t?).

It’s all thanks to the 49 colonists that came to San Francisco and were found too much golden.

That is reason why the great football team in San Francisco is called the “49ers” Them the baseball team got is name the “Giants” because of the big buildings so that is how the teams got their names.

The Food

Cabeza Taco – What do I love about Cabeza? The fact that it tastes like beef that’s been stewing until the meat is tender.  When I compare cabeza tacos, I always compare it to my first, Tacos Peralta taco.  I found the flavor of these tacos to be a little perfume-y.  The flavor just wasn’t there.

Lengua Taco – Oh, the texture of Lengua is amazing, the taste is amazing.  Once you get the thought of having another animals tongue inside your mouth, everything is alright.  I found the Lengua here on par with Tacos Peralta.

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Kung Fu Tacos – San Francisco

Kung Fu Tacos Duck and Pork TacosKung Fu Tacos
Sacramento & Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Financial District

Rated: ♣♣♣

K was just telling me the other day, “Someone need to make a Peking duck taco.” Well, at Kung Fu Tacos, you can get just that. An old college friend (and fellow foodie) came to visit me at lunch one day during work and decided to try the famous KFT.

The scene:

This is an order, grab your food and eat at your desk kind of place. You’d have to work in the area to eat here since there’s no where you can park or sit.

The line was short and service was quick. It took about 2 min til we got our food.

The food:

Their menu consists of only 5 different kinds of tacos, but the specialty tacos ($3 each) is where the party’s at. You’d definitely need at least 3 to get full.

I actually had lunch before I came here, so I was only able to try the duck taco and a dessert.

Roast Duck taco – These are street-style tacos, so they’re about the size of my hand which is pretty tiny. This taco consisted of roast duck, Hoisin sauce, mango salsa and green onions all on top of a chewy corn tortilla. The mixture of flavors are great. I would’ve been fine with just the duck and sauce, but the salsa really brings it up a notch. The sweet and tangy salsa adds a punch to the taco both texturally and taste-wise.

Dulce de Leche Banana Empanada – Unfortunately, this sounds a lot better than it tastes. I was looking forward to a buttery, crispy shell oozing with mushed bananas and caramel on the inside. To my dismay, I found mostly crust and a super thin layer of caramel sauce with a hint of banana flavor. Super disappointing.

Kung Fu Tacos is one of the more famous food trucks in San Francisco, and by the taste of their tacos, I can see why. I’d love to come back again to try their Wu Shu Char Sui taco.

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Mijita – San Francisco

Mijita Carnitas TacoMijita
1 Ferry Building #44
San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Rated: ♣

Mijita is terribly expensive for street-style Mexican food. K pointed at my $9 2-taco order and said, “I get those for $1.50 each at Taco’s Peralta in San Mateo.” Knowing that made it difficult to enjoy my meal.

The scene:

Mijita is situated in the back of the Ferry Building and gets quite crowded during lunch time. Wait staff is friendly, especially when I found a hair in my fish taco once and they replaced it and gave me a flan for free.

The food:

Pretty bad. I don’t even understand why this place is crowded. You can walk over to one of the taco trucks near by and get better Mexican food for half the price.

Fish tacos – I had this on a seperate occasion, so I don’t have a photo. I was a little turned off by it after I found the hair. Once you’ve had Nick’s, no other fish taco comes close.

Carnita’s tacos – Since I’m a picky eater, I ordered 2 tacos minus the salsa. When I got my order, I was surprised to find only meat and a tortilla wrapped in foil with no cabbage. It looked pretty unappetizing, so I asked for hot sauce. With the sauce, the taste wasn’t too bad. Meat was pretty dry and the tortillas kept cracking. Totally not worth my $9.

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Tacos Peralta – San Mateo

Tacos Peralta
342 E Hillsdale Blvd
San Mateo, CA 94407
Rating: ♣♣♣♣

One thing that I love about working in the Peninsula is the great, cheap eats that are close by.  I love to eat at sit down places where I can just sit and talk to my coworkers about random things like Glee and P90X, but when we’re down for some awesome, fast mexican food we go to Tacos Peralta.  It’s not a Taqueria, it’s what people call a roach coach.  However, it’s not one of those trendy food trucks that serve Fancy Desserts or Gourmet Sandwiches.  This one has been in the same spot for the last couple of years that I’ve been coming here.  Nestled in front of a BevMo and gas station, this is probably the best place to drop a food truck, especially one that has these long lines which requires ample parking space.

The Food

When I come here I always get the Tacos.  Can you believe they are $1.25!  The best part is you get your choice of awesomely flavored and cooked meat.  I started experimenting with every type of meat they had on the list: Carnes Asada, Pastor, Cabeza, Lengua, Pollo, Tripa, Chorizo, and Carnitas.  My favorite by far is Cabeza.  Yeh, for all you non-Spanish readers, that’s head.  There’s something about the way they grill the head meat, and there’s nothing wrong with eating it if it tastes awesome. The meat is placed on top of corn tortillas, mixed with onions, and some hot sauce with pickled carrots, and a lime on the side.

I’ve given their Quesadilla a try, but I felt that my heart has fallen for the tacos.  Quesadillas are $4 and are pretty much the same, except they use a flour tortilla and add cheese.

The Scene

So, the truck is always in front of BevMo, and there’s always a line during the main dining hours, rain or shine.  There was once a time where a different truck showed up instead of Tacos Peralta, and my dining companions and I had a little tear.  Three grown men, crying on the side of a road (a little more than a tear, I guess).  Well, all in all, this is just a taco truck, and people shouldn’t go there.  I just want to keep the lines really short.

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Nick's Crispy Taco's – San Francisco

Nick's Crispy Tacos StorefrontNick’s Crispy Tacos
Neighborhood: Russian Hill
1500 Broadway
(between Polk St & United States Highway 101)
San Francisco, CA 94109

Rated: ♣♣♣♣♣

I first discovered Nick’s Crispy Tacos when 7×7 released it’s 100 Things to Try Before You Die. Back then, I was completely oblivious to good quality fish tacos. I had been eating Rubios at least 2-3 times a month thinking it was the greatest thing on earth. Boy, was I wrong. Now, stepping into another Rubios would be blasphemous to the fish taco gods.

The scene:

The decor at Nick’s Crispy Taco’s is actually unexpected. The hipster-style interior is gaudy red with crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The restaurants double life consists of a heavenly taco place by day, the trendy nightclub Rouge by night.

The food:

I only stick to what I know is good here – pescado (fish) tacos “Nick’s Way” ($5), an elote (corn) and a horchata (rice drink).

Pescado Tacos – When you order this, you MUST order it “Nick’s Way,” which is about $1 more. Trust me, it’s completely worth it. “Nick’s Way” is an extra crispy-fried corn tortilla wrapped with a soft tortilla with jack cheese and guacamole in addition to your choice of filling. These are the best fish taco’s I’ve ever had and any other fish taco I’ve had since has never come close.

The pescado taco consists of a layer of cabbage and red onions, Baja-style fried white fish, fresh guacamole, lime mayonnaise, salsa and cilantro. The tacos are enormous, so you can get away with one if you’re looking for a light meal. If you like spicy, ask for the habanero sauce. They keep that hidden in the back and it’ll add a huge kick to the taco.

Elote – I LOVE Mexican corn. I get this any time I’m at a county fair. Mexican corn is grilled corn rubbed any kind of seasoning. This one specifically had butter and topped with Mexican cheese, chili powder and cayanne pepper. It’s so rich and creamy, and mucho deliciouso. It really does make this healthy grain/vegetable unhealthy for you.

Horchata – Horchata is a Mexican sweet rice drink flavored with cinnamon and other spices. It pretty much tastes like the left over milk after a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s a little chalky, but I still love it.

The Nick from Nick’s Crispy Taco’s is actually at Underdogs on Irving now. They pretty much serve the same menu, including the famous fish tacos. I like to go there since it’s more convenient for me, but parking is pretty rough during certain times of the day.

I shake my fist at NIck’s Crispy Taco’s for setting my fish taco standards so high. I will probably never eat a fish taco anywhere else ever again.

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