Friday, October 17, 2008


Hola amigos! Taquerias, taco wagons and Mexican restaurants have sprouted around the bay area. Dependent upon what you are looking for, Alameda offers a good variety of Mexican food establishments. If you are looking for great tacos, I recommend Taqueria Calafia on Webster Street. If you are in the mood for a burrito, the best place is Alameda Taqueria on Park Street. If you don't know what you want, but you are hungry for Mexican than there are only three places that serve a wide variety of food La Pinata 3, Acapulco and Otaez.

Taqueria Calafia serves awesome tacos. I don't order tacos anywhere else because I have been disappointed too many times at other establishments. This is the place to be. The fish tacos are the best, deep fried with a special creamy cheese sauce. The carne asada is also good. They use good quality beef and don't give you the grizzle like most places do. The pork (carnitas) tacos with the verde sauce is tender and full of flavor. The chicken tacos are shredded and tasty, but this is the least ordered taco for me. The space can be busy during lunch time, especially when the Farmer's Market is going on.

Alameda Taqueria has tasty burritos. The burritos are huge and is large enough for two people. You get a lot of options for the tortilla which is nice. My favorite burrito is the carne asada. The meat sauce is flavorful with unique spices that say Mexican, but it's not overwhelming. The other ingredients are fresh which is the reason why I keep on coming back. Even though a burrito is multi-layered, you can taste each unique ingredient and feel good about eating it. The food is extremely satisfying. The taqueria is a little on the small side and a bit dark unless you eat by the front door. I have a tendency to get my food to go and eat it at home or at an A's game.

If you are on the West Side of Alameda than Otaez is a great place to eat. They offer a large selection of food. The portions are big and you get your money's worth. The salsas are fresh and at times can be spicy. My favorite appetizer is the empanadas, dough on the outside with vegetables, meat and cheese in the inside. Great entrees are the fish dishes since they are fresh and less heavy compared to the chile rellenos and tamales. The combination plates are good too, but you have to be hungry to enjoy them. When the restaurant is really busy, than service can be a bit slow.

La Pinata 3 is the party place. The wait may be long for a table, but the food and atmosphere is worth it. Come on a weekend night and the restaurant is a party. Every dining room is full, the tequila bar is always packed and everyone appears to have a good time. Once you are seated, the wait staff is quick and works through the labyrinth of tables. The tortilla chips are warm and the salsa is mild and fresh. The quality and taste of the food is similar to Otaez. The deep fried fish is good, but it's the sauces that make the difference. The garlic and butter sauce is really tasty. The red sauce is also good with a kick of peppers and spices. The fajitas are decent, but the kitchen has a tendency to over cook the vegetables. The end result is that the vegetables are limp and soggy. Portions at this place are quite large and two entrees could serve four people. The combination plates are decent, but nothing really stands out from the menu. The chile rellenos taste good and one is not left with a bloating sensation afterwards. (This actually has happened to me a few times at a certain Mexican restaurant.) What I have noticed is that people who don't want to wait for a table here, walk down the street to Juanita's. The menu at Juanita's is the same as in La Pinata and Otaez, but with food is made with less authenticity.

Acapulco is probably the least favorite of mine of the three major Mexican restaurants. The main dining room is dark, there are no windows and the bench seats are old and torn apart. The food is palatable, but there isn't a lot of taste difference between this place and La Pinata and Otaez. However, this restaurant markets itself as a family run and operated establishment. The margaritas are good, but not as special compared to La Pinata.

I have eaten at other Mexican restaurants not mentioned and found them to be non memorable. Please check the older postings of Park Street and West End for other Mexican places.


Anonymous said...

Calafia Tacqueria on Webster Street has lost its beer and wine liquor license indefinitely. Too bad. I would still come here for the food.

Anonymous said...

Ramirez Brothers is my fav.