Oakland Taco Truck Tour
Directly following my trip to Peru, I left on a research trip to the West Coast for two weeks. What was I researching? Glad you asked: a book on Stadium Eats! Um, yeah, without a deal in sight currently (hint, hint, anyone reading this who is interested!), I went to preemptively scout out the 6 West Coast stadiums and eat my way up and down the West Coast at the same time, starting in San Francisco, working my way down to Los Angeles, then San Diego, back up to San Francisco and then to Seattle! Phew! Tune in at 4:15 EST (or 1:15 PST, lunchtime on the West Coast) for the next 6 weeks to see what I ate and where I ate it… and how I gained 10 lbs in two weeks!
After the Old Oakland Farmer’s Market, I decided to drive around seeking out taco trucks. Someone who knew I was in San Francisco had emailed me this Frommer’s article about taco trucks in Oakland, so I decided to give it a shot and hit at least some of the trucks. Driving around during the middle of the day – using my GPS – I was confused a lil bit. It was a Friday, around lunchtime; my experience in New York has been that food trucks will park near places with lots of foot traffic, lots of people working who want something interesting to eat. Not in a fairly deserted area. But what do I know…
The first place I picked out of the list was El Ojo de Agua.
Something I found even more interesting than the truck being in the middle of what felt like nowhere (off a highway, but not very close to the exit – it was next to the underpass) was that it was parked in its own parking lot, with a small shack to one side that even had bathrooms. I don’t get it. I’m clearly missing something here – do they sometimes take the truck out and park it elsewhere? If they have the space, I just don’t understand why they don’t use more of the shack part? (I don’t even know what’s in there, since I didn’t peek in.) But it was nice to have parking for customers, which is where I parked and subsequently stood to eat.
Having just returned from a Spanish-speaking country, I absentmindedly ordered in (poor) Spanish. The woman didn’t seem to mind, and my order was in. Tres tacos…
cabeza (head, or really, the cheeks)
y chorizo (spiced sausage).
I admit that I may have gotten the pictures of the tongue and cheek mixed up, but I do recall the textures, oh the wonderful textures, and flavors of each. The cheek was silky soft, succulent, and delicious, with all the right notes being hit in my mouth. The tongue had a dense chew to it, a lovely meatiness that I really enjoyed. The chorizo was very tasty as well, but unfortunately covered in a fairly spicy sauce that set my mouth aflame - thankfully, this was the last one I picked up, as I eyed the red glazing it a bit suspiciously – so I was able to take some time to recover before the next taco truck.
All three were delicious, and at $1.25 each, honestly, I probably could have made a simple meal just out of those three tacos. But I wanted more! So I left and headed over to…
El Novillo, a truck that not only sits in a parking lot, but it’s the parking lot of a related restaurant! (Different menu, but same owner(s)).
I got extremely excited when I saw I could have a chicharrons taco, or pork skin… deep fried. Each piece was airy, light, not too oily, and delicious on its own, but in a taco, not quite what I was looking for. I wanted something with more substance; this tended to be so airy that as I clutched the taco and bit into it, the pieces would practically float away. Still yummy though!
I decided to go with al pastor, or spicy pork, as my last choice. I couldn’t imagine it being too spicy (because I’m a fool)… in any case, this was also very good, very flavorul, with large chunks of meat to make up for my other choice. A squirt of lime and heavenly – I love the bright acidity that lime juice gives just about anything – mmm, yummy. This was one of my favorites of the day, right up alongside the lengua and cabeza from the other truck.
It also came with some hot sauces (which I didn’t touch; I like eating things the way they’re served first, and the next time, getting creative to find my perfect combo), and some pickled carrots, etc. By this time, though, I was getting full, and needed to head out – it was time to drive back to San Francisco for the game at AT&T Park.
Yvo says: I can’t see any reason not to go visit one of (or all of) the taco trucks and keep trying all of them until you find the one that makes your heart sing. Luckily, I found a couple already that I’d return just to eat, but honestly, at $1.25 each, I will keep going back and trying different ones as well. I might even try a chicken one *makes face* (I’m not a big fan of eating chicken outside the home, unless it’s fried). So… when will one of these trucks be poppin’ up in NYC? (I know there’s one near my favorite Vietnamese restaurant, but I don’t know if it’s $1.25 a taco!)
recommended, go nuts and try one of everything! (and tell me how it is)