The Netscape-friendly hunt for the perfect urban food log.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A compendium of road food:

Went skiing on New Year's Day; El Pastor in Escalon was closed, so we ate lunch next door at the Cantina (Highway 120 just east of the railroad tracks). I would call the food authentic, but timid. I had a beef tamal plate, and the tamale appeared to be homemade, but the sauce had that Dinty Moore taste and there was no heat to speak of.

Wound up eating Mexican again that night in Arnold at the Blue Frog (Highway 4). They were out of pretty much everything. I ordered camarones al ajo -- adequate, but not memorable. A small dish of walnut-sized shrimp in a warm pool of garlic butter. The refritos tasted as if they had been reconstituted from freeze-dried beans. My dining companion had better luck with the clams -- about two dozen small ones, served with garlic butter.

Earlier this week, had a chile verde burrito at Salsa, off East Leland Road in Pittsburg (near Los Medanos College). Grilled tortilla, good beans, large chunks of tender meat, reasonable amount of heat. It cost almost $7, but was actually too big for me to finish. The chips and salsa were good, too.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Is the $4 burrito extinct?

On Christmas Eve, I stopped at Taqueria El Sombrero in downtown Healdsburg. This taqueris has survived the relentless gentrification that plopped an Oakville Grocery across the street. And if you have to ask what Oakville Grocery is, you don't make enough money to shop there.

So instead of light oak and local chardonnay, El Sombrero offers Formica and Tecate. But you'll pay $6.55 for a regular burrito, and my Smaller Dining Companion's beans-and-rice burrito set us back $3.75. Those are resort prices, but then, Healdsburg has been turned into something very much resembling a resort. That makes it hard on regular folks, and I noticed while we were waiting, a steady stream of men in Dickies and overalls came in to order what may be one of the last affordable lunches in town.

Anyway, the food: I got pastor, which had a little kick and was nicely done. They did not ask me my preference in beans, and I wound up with refritos. SDC specified pinto, and got whole beans, so if you are alert, you do have some choice. They do offer buche and tripitas, but I was a little bit flu-ish and not feeling like going off the beaten path.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

"Carne asada is not a crime"

By DENISE PETSKI, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 4, 3:18 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - The great Taco Truck Wars of 2008 appear to have come to a close.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said Friday that it won't appeal a judge's ruling in August that threw out a law requiring taco truck operators to move every hour or face $1,000 fines and possible jail time.

Phil Greenwald, an attorney for the vendors, praised the prosecutor's decision.

"After all, they're not selling porn, they're not selling drugs, all they're selling is food," he told The Associated Press. "Carne asada is not a crime."

For the next few days, anyway, you can read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Had a burrito manchamanteles at Picante in Berkeley. This mole sauce is not supposed to be knock-your-socks-off spicy, but the Picante version was a little too timid. The sweet, red sauce drenching the chicken would have been helped by a contrast with a little peppery relish: radish slices, shredded cabbage or salsa cruda. As it is, it's a kid's burrito, not bad, but not offering much complexity.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

El Jaliscience: Second Visit.

Uh-oh, they're open on Sundays. Had a burrito al pastor that still lacked structural integrity -- don't try to eat this thing in a car, for goodness sakes. The pork was crispy bits swimming in a flame-orange oily sauce. For some people, the greasiness of this burrito would probably be a feature, not a bug. However, I'd have to mark it down. One of my dining companions had the fish tacos -- get four or five if you're a guy, and maybe even if you're a girl. They got a thumbs up.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The burrito war is on

I visited El Jalisciense today for lunch: Man, it's weird stepping into a brand-new taqueria! Everything looks too... clean, and there was only one other customer in the joint. That having been said, I got a regular chile verde burrito, hold the sour cream (that's right, the regular comes with sour cream and cheese). It came with a tin foil twist of chopped jalapenos, radish slices and pickled carrot slices.

I have to mark the newcomer down on burrito integrity -- perhaps because it uses refried beans as a default, the product has a sloppy, fragile feel, as if it might explode in your hand. I kept the foil wrapping up as high as I could without biting into it, used care, and managed to finish without disaster.

However, the pork and green sauce were superb. Spicier and more pork flavor than the incumbent shop, Los Comales. I think El Jalisciense may use a fattier cut of meat. Also, man, pretty darn big burrito for a regular. I feel like a sea lion beached on a sunny dock right now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Internet has discovered pupusas!

And I have proof:

A simple google of the term now yields 63,000 results.

La Prensa has a slideshow of the largest pupusa in the world.

Pupusas are on YouTube.

And The Vegan Lunch Box even has a pupusa in it.