Join us for Tag Along, where local writers, artists, food authorities, and celebrities lead us to the best food and drinks in their favorite Bay Area neighborhoods.
It’s not every day you get to eat a ton of tacos with an NBA player, but that’s the workout of the day: Crossing the bridge and driving deep into the East Bay, out of the fog and into the sunny and sleepy town of Pleasanton, we’re meeting up with Juan Toscano-Anderson of the Golden State Warriors at his favorite diner. He beats us to the restaurant. He’s kicking it with his best friend Jose Antonio Parvo. And he’s already halfway through on a massive plate of French toast, which the baller regards as a mere first course. “Hope you don’t mind we got started,” he says as he takes a seat. “We were hungry.”
Toscano-Anderson, a small forward for the Golden State Warriors, is 28 years old, 6 feet 6 inches tall, and in his second season playing for his home team. Locals love that he’s a Bay Area native who grew up in East Oakland, and he’s proudly Black and Mexican, making him one of the few Mexican-American players in the NBA. And this guy loves to eat. Toscano-Anderson says growing up his family didn’t eat out at restaurants much, more often digging into his mom’s enchiladas and dirty rice at home. Now, traveling the country and the world for basketball, he’s getting more into dining, from Italian pasta to Venezuelan fruit to fresh fish back in the Bay. When the Warriors are on the road, they sometimes take the players to Mastro’s, but when he’s home, he’d rather take his girlfriend Arriana Lina out for a steak dinner at Epic, or catch up with Steph and Ayesha Curry at International Smoke.
But most of the time, if he’s really hungry, Toscano-Anderson is hopping in his truck and heading back home over the bridge from Chase Center. He says he loves the Mexican restaurants in the East Bay — the family-owned businesses and the hole-in-the-wall spots that use fresh ingredients, still-warm tortillas, tangy green sauces, and lots of spice. Oh, and wide-ranging menus, so he can load up on NBA-sized portions. Toscano-Anderson has been blessed or cursed with the metabolism of a baby cheetah. “My nutrition program is to eat as much as I can,” Toscano-Anderson says, noting that he spends a lot on groceries.
So hop in the truck, let’s go for a ride. We’re going to tag along with Golden State Warriors player Juan Toscano-Anderson and hit three of his favorite Mexican restaurants in the East Bay.
Vic’s All-Star Kitchen
First stop is Vic’s All Star Kitchen in Pleasanton, a sports-themed diner that’s been around for several decades but was taken over by new owners Ernesto and Laura Castro in March 2020. It’s on the corner of a quaint street shaded by trees, and stepping inside, the dining room is lined with football helmets, jerseys, and other sports memorabilia. Toscano-Anderson only discovered the restaurant during the pandemic, when he and some teammates were road-tripping out of town and didn’t want to drive through McDonald’s. Given that it’s a little further out than his usual turf in Oakland, he heads out maybe once a month on the weekend to get together for a big brunch with his family.
The entire staff know and love Toscano-Anderson, and keeps bringing him freshly squeezed juice and asking if he needs more protein. Menu items are named after local high school coaches, and Toscano-Anderson also has a dedicated menu item: The “Coach ‘Toscano’” is French toast with powdered sugar, cinnamon, two eggs, bacon, and sausage for $14.25. Toscano-Anderson usually starts with French toast and recommends seasonal specials, including the autumn pumpkin bread version topped with caramelized bananas. But then two servers bring out the largest platter of chilaquiles you’ve ever seen, fully loaded with freshly fried tortillas drowned in tangy tomatillo sauce with a side of scrambled eggs and crispy home fries. (Please note: This is an extra-large serving specifically for Toscano-Anderson, not quite the usual entree size.)
“The chilaquiles are the perfect spice,” Toscano-Anderson says. “It’s not too bland and not too spicy, but it’s got a good kick to it. And they’re freshly made … they’re crunchy, they’re not soggy. They’re the best chilaquiles I’ve ever had. And I lived in Mexico for four years.”
Mariscos La Costa
Rolling back into East Oakland, as soon as we hop off the freeway, we park at Mariscos La Costa only two blocks from Fruitvale BART station. It’s a cash-only walk-up taqueria; driving by on International Boulevard, you might not give it a second glance. But pull over at the big blue sign and step under the wide awning, and you’ll realize that in addition to an outstandingly kitschy ‘70s-style rock wall, the whole ceiling has been painted with an under-the-sea mural with dolphins and sea turtles. And that’s the tip-off: In addition to good tacos and burritos, La Costa is into fish. Toscano-Anderson says he’s been going here since he was a kid thanks to a particularly seafood-obsessed uncle, and it’s now his favorite stop for a ceviche snack.
Toscano-Anderson’s go-to order is one ceviche tostada, three carne asada tacos, and a burrito. He eats them in one sitting and in exactly that order, so the tostada stays crunchy and the tortillas stay warm. The burrito will keep for last (“I can’t stand cold food,” he notes). This entire tray of food costs about $30. La Costa is cash only and outdoor dining only, but it’s affordable, and there’s plenty of seating at the generously spaced picnic tables. Toscano-Anderson says sometimes fans recognize him here, which feels strange at one of his favorite childhood restaurants, but it’s still an under-the-radar spot where he can chill.
Taqueria La Mejor
Last stop is a short drive up High Street to Taqueria La Mejor, a tiny box of a taqueria tucked inside a shopping center, alongside a laundromat and check cashing store. La Mejor doesn’t have a website and hasn’t even cracked 100 reviews on Yelp — it’s just a counter and a couple of tables. But Toscano-Anderson has been getting after-practice burritos here since he was about 16 years old because it’s his best friend’s grandma’s restaurant, serving really comforting, homestyle Mexican food. Jose’s grandmother Maria Parvo is now in her 60s, and she’s still greeting Toscano-Anderson with the biggest smile, running behind the stove, and grabbing drinks.
It’s a super simple menu. Toscano-Anderson gets the burrito, just one burrito in this case, filled with arrachera or skirt steak. It isn’t technically listed on the menu, but it’s a slightly different cut than the usual carne asada, and a little more expensive (he’s definitely more into steak than pork). Jose says the most popular menu item and his grandma’s specialty is actually the enchiladas, which are incredibly comforting, with stewed chicken folded into tender tortillas and smothered in a thick mole sauce, served with rice, beans, shredded lettuce, and freshly chopped pico de gallo. Again, it’s cash only, and a full plate with two enchiladas costs $10. “I don’t really eat here that much anymore,” Jose jokes. “I tell my grandma, I can get this stuff at home. Let’s get some taco truck food.” But there’s a signed Toscano jersey above the cash register, and a snapshot of the best friends taped up in the kitchen. Clearly, Grandma Maria knows who her biggest fans are.