The East Bay has long been regarded as a taco haven, as street corners from Concord to Hayward are dotted with roaming trucks, front yard pop-ups, and traditional restaurants all serving excellent specimens. Over the past three years, the area further cemented itself as a taco destination, as scores of newcomers emerged onto the scene dishing up everything from regional homespun specialties to modern, California-ized takes on classics. Here’s where to find some of the best local favorites and new-to-the-scene taquerias in the East Bay right now.Read More
17 Taco Destinations in the East Bay
A hit list of some of the best carne asada, carnitas, birria —and even vegan — tacos in the East Bay
Tortilleria El Molino
Stroll past the Afghan grocery store, the Mexican restaurants, and hair salons, and in the back of a Concord strip mall, you’ll find what you came for: the longtime local favorite tortilleria/taqueria that’s especially beloved for its melt-in-your-mouth carnitas. The tacos dorados here are also a solid pick with their thin, yet sturdy, freshly fried tortillas jam-packed with ground beef, potatoes, lettuce, diced tomatoes, cotija cheese, and sluiced in fresh crema.
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Tacos El Tucan
As one of those places where everything is good, the go-to move here is to order the “red” tacos, a newer addition to this Richmond staple. Walk up to the window to place your order and choose from adobada freshly shaved from the trompo, grilled carne asada, succulent shrimp, or any other filling, and they’ll put it inside a crispy, handmade corn tortilla with mozzarella cheese, and finish it off with onions and cilantro. If you’re in a hurry, be sure to order online, as it’s common to wait a half hour for your food.
These are the best quesabirria tacos in the East Bay, full stop. The business started as a front-yard pop-up in 2019, and the tacos became an instant Instagram sensation, which helped the owners open their own brick-and-mortar location less than a year later. After you take your first bite, it’s immediately apparent why this has become one of the most popular taco joints in the Bay: juicy beef birria layered between gooey mozzarella, wrapped in a crisp “red” corn tortilla — which is made impossibly more delicious when dipped into their comforting consommé.
Designated as a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in 2021, Tacos Oscar continues to live up to the hype. The inventive, rotating menu of tacos made with handmade tortillas draw long lines and for good reason. If you see them, snag a tomatillo-braised pork shoulder or a renowned fried egg taco drizzled in “magic chile oil,” but don’t sleep on the vegan options either, especially the peanut-y charred broccoli or the flavor-packed mushroom mole coloradito tacos.
La Guerrera’s Kitchen
While best known for tamales, the tacos at this cozy outpost in Swan Market are not to be missed. The best? The pescado tacos featuring rockfish sauteed in fresh garlic; the impossibly tender barbacoa; and if you’re lucky enough to find them on the menu, don’t miss the spicy-sweet fried plaintain drenched in mole rojo.
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Located on a quiet side street in the Dimond District, Bombera is the latest restaurant from celebrated chef, Dominica Rice-Cisernos. While tacos are not the focal point of the Mexico City-style menu, they’re certainly phenomenal. If you’re lucky to catch them when they’re on their often-rotating menu, be sure to try the pork belly tacos or jumbo battered shrimp tacos topped with chipotle crema.
Tacos Mi Rancho
The expert move with Tacos Mi Rancho, a local favorite with a 20-year history in Oakland, is to grab a few barbacoa tacos and then post up on the grass or on a nearby bench at Lake Merritt. What’s even better? The truck is open from 9:30 a.m. until midnight daily, so you can get your taco fix morning, noon, or night.
One of the classics in Fruitvale, there’s really no wrong order at Tacos Sinaloa. All of the proteins are well-composed and flavorful, but it’s hard not to fall totally in love with the carnitas and cabeza tacos.
Tacos El Ultimo Baile
Dominic Prado and his much-raved-about truck recently found a permanent home in the heart of Fruitvale where he continues to serve up impeccably executed street-style tacos with Northern Mexico flair. While there are staples on the menu — including grilled carne asada, trompo-roasted adobada, and beautifully seasoned pollo asado — follow the business on Instagram to check out rotating specials like crispy, melt-in-your-mouth carnitas, smoked brisket barbacoa, and more. Doctor it up any way you’d like at the salsa bar, and be sure to get your tacos on freshly handmade tortillas. (They’re a must.)
Tacos El Gordo
This longtime, East Bay favorite dishes up some of the juiciest, flavor-packed adobada and crispy (but never dry) and carne asada. This truck’s “specialty meats” are also expertly prepared, including their sesos (beef brain), tripas, and lengua.
Taqueria El Paisa@.com
The best-named taqueria in the East Bay also serves some of the most varied and tasty tacos in the already taco-notable Fruitvale district of Oakland. Don’t be weirded out by the strange ordering system; instead, just tell the cashier how many tacos you want and, at the next window, pick your fillings. Standouts here in addition to the typical carne asada and al pastor orders are the tripas, which aren’t overly chewy, and the creamy sesos (brain) tacos.
La Grana Fish
Fans flock to this semi-hidden truck next to Aloha Club for the Baja-style fried fish tacos topped with slaw and spicy mayo — an order that’s just as popular as the Instagram-worthy quesabirria, which is packed with griddled cheese and juicy birria de res. Be sure to fork up a little extra for the consommé, or order the cult-favorite birria ramen.
Tucked in the backyard of the owners’ home, this nearly decade-old taqueria feels like a secret, locals-only clubhouse serving tacos that are hard to find elsewhere in the Bay Area. Known for tacos el vapor — a style that sees meat simmered and steamed to tender, flavorful perfection — this is the destination for juicy proteins that are otherwise difficult to come by including sesos (brains), labio (lips), and chachete (cheek). The shop is only open Friday through Sunday, so be sure to arrive on the earlier side to avoid the rush.
Tacos Mama Cuca
Step into the modest yard of this home in deep East Oakland and utter the two magic words to the woman behind the grill: taco Yaqui. Served on paper-thin flour tortillas, which are made by “Mama Cuca” herself, these larger Sonoran-style tacos include a heaping serving of asada, a grilled Anaheim chile, queso fundido, frijoles puercos (Sonoran-style refried beans), thinly sliced cabbage, and your choice of salsa. One is usually enough — Mama Cuca doesn’t skimp on ingredients here— but you’ll wish you could have two.
La Parilla Loca
Even on cold, windy nights, you can find a line outside of La Parilla Loca, one of the newest deep East Oakland spots serving Tijuana-style, al carbon tacos. While the chorizo and al pastor are certainly good bets, be sure to try the carne asada, which is perfectly salted, seasoned, and crisp.
Tacos Mi Reynita
As one of the first to serve Tijuana-style tacos in the Bay Area, Tacos Mi Reynita is one of the hottest pop-ups in Oakland. True to the border town’s style, these tacos will come “standard” with your choice of meat, onions, cilantro, and a dollop of guacamole. (You get to pick from eight different salsas carefully crafted by the founder herself.) The lines can be long — as is the case with any popular joint — but once you order, your food will come out quickly.
Attached to a Valero gas station in Hayward, this unassuming taco outpost whips up “Mexiterranean” food with a menu that combines falafel, gyros, and birria. Before you fuel up, head inside to order a trio of halal quesabirria tacos (with consommé, of course). If you’re just driving through, order ahead for pickup and eat outside in their small, turf patio.