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A tray of tacos at La Guerrera’s Kitchen in Fruitvale
Noah Cho

22 Destination-Worthy Tacos in the East Bay

All the carne asada, birria, and al pastor you’d ever want to put on a tortilla

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A tray of tacos at La Guerrera’s Kitchen in Fruitvale
| Noah Cho

The web of East Bay tacos, taqueros, and taquerias is vast and infinite, stretching from isolated corners of Point Richmond down to the faceless shopping complexes of Hayward. No mere mortal could ever hope to try every single one of these tacos, but it’s well worth the attempt: The East Bay counts among its ranks some of the best tacos in the Bay Area — perhaps the best, full stop. Birria, mariscos, and classics like al pastor and carne asada all feature prominently, and the joy of stumbling on a new place is one of the best things about this great taco network.

From sit-down places to trucks and drive-thrus, here are 22 of the best bits of tortilla and filling you could ever possibly hope for, arranged geographically from North to South.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. La Selva Taqueria

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1049 23rd St
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 237-0913
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The tacos on their own are great, but the best move at La Selva is to get a nicely charred, well-spiced pollo al carbon, whose outdoor grilling noticeably fills the air around this colorfully decorated restaurant in Richmond’s 23rd street corridor. A full order of this chicken comes with tortillas, excellent, creamy-chunky beans, and fragrant rice. Make sure to sample every salsa from the salsa bar as you build your own tacos.

A charcoal-grilled chicken plate at La Selva Noah Cho

2. Tacos El Chino

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2300 Humphrey Ave
Richmond, CA 94804
(510) 829-6734

Located directly across the street from La Selva is another 23rd Street gem, this one is a truck that never moves. The outdoor seating here is lovely for a warm day, as the charming lights and tables make eating tacos al fresco quite appealing. Fans of lengua and shrimp tacos will find themselves delighted by the offerings here. Get your tacos spicy for the full effect and enjoy the charred peppers that come with each order as well.

Noah Cho

3. Portumex

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721 23rd St
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 237-7513

If you’re taco crawling through Richmond (you really should be), it’s easy to breeze past Portumex, which looks from both the outside and inside as if it were more of a diner from another era. And though there are diner-style menu items like full breakfasts and burgers, the tacos here are quite delicious, especially when done in a crispy shell. The classic Mexican-American ground beef tacos with neon cheese and lettuce are nostalgia-moan inducing, especially paired with salsas that go far beyond the FIRE level at Taco Bell.

Noah Cho

4. Tacos La Raza

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514080011
Richmond, CA 94801

Make sure you’re at the right La Raza in Richmond first; this window is right at the west end of the 23rd Street cornucopia of excellent taquerias. The suadero here is intensely beefy and tender to the tooth but with a still-crispy exterior. Buche here is so well braised and cooked that it only retains the most pleasant of gamey tastes.

Noah Cho

5. Maya Taqueria

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130 Railroad Ave
Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 374-6594

In the never-ending debate about which taqueria or taquero slings the best al pastor, a good case could be made for this tiny sliver of a taqueria in Point Richmond. Located in a you’ll-walk-right-past-it shop adjacent to a dive bar, the trompo here turns out crisp, succulent al pastor, as well as all of the other classic proteins. Veggie options are solid here, too, with butternut squash being a great option.

6. Tacos El Autlense

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601 San Pablo Ave #2
Albany, CA 94706
(510) 776-0701

Anyone who’s had a great night out at the Hotsy Totsy Club has probably dined at Tacos El Autlense without ever knowing its name (if you Google Hotsy Totsy one of the results is “Hotsy Totsy taco truck”). Unless an order of the excellently flavored carne asada, al pastor, or cabeza is taken inside the bar or to go, or eaten in a car parked on the street, there is no place to sit, so plan accordingly. The salsas here are perky and bright, and the cooks and staff are incredibly friendly.

The Tacos El Autlense truck, parked outside the Hotsy Totsy Club Noah Cho

7. Tacos Oscar

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420 40th St
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 735-9620

This local darling was recently crowned one of the best new restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit, but those who live in the East Bay have already known and loved Tacos Oscar from its previous life a pop-up. The taqueria’s new digs, a lilliputian endeavor with a shipping container aesthetic, is easy to miss, but worth the effort to find. Though the meat offerings are fantastic, the always-on-the-menu fried egg taco and veggie tacos are standouts, especially the charred broccoli if it’s on the menu that day.

A Tacos Oscar taco Noah Cho

8. Tacos Panzon

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2000-, 2198 Campbell St
Oakland, CA 94607

Traffic on Grand Ave. leading onto the Bay Bridge freeway entrance nearby can be a drag, so it might be a good idea to make that trek a little better with some great tacos from this randomly located truck nearby. Tacos Panzon boasts the standard proteins and is not too deep on the offal-based tacos, but getting a couple of flavor-packed and nicely crisped carne asada and chorizo tacos here is the way to go — especially with the pro move of making them “deluxe” tacos with melty cheese and slices of avocado.

Noah Cho

9. Rico Rico Taco

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3205 Lakeshore Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 922-8262

This wonderful taqueria presses its own tortillas and boasts an especially lovely al pastor that comes from an ever-turning and ever-busy trompo. There is also an excellent fish taco on the menu and a hearty veggie taco; salsas come in too-small thimble-sized cups, but asking for more isn’t a problem.

Noah Cho

10. Xingones at Fort Green

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736 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 519-4607
Visit Website

It would be a strong and solid move to just try all of the regular tacos here, especially the pollo tin-tin (described as “umami-rubbed’ on the menu), but also amazing here is the First Friday, a fried chicken taco inside a flour tortilla. It comes with a tart curtido on top and creamy remoulade that pairs well with the crisp chicken.

Four tacos at the Xingones pop-up Noah Cho

11. Tacos Mi Rancho

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1434 1st Ave
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 395-1403
Visit Website

The expert move with Tacos Mi Rancho, a truck that has no seating save for perhaps some posting up in the bed of a friend’s pickup, is to grab a few barbacoa tacos and bring them over to nearby Lake Merritt and reflect on how lovely life is with solid taco. Tacos Mi Rancho also has the added bonus of being open until 2:30am, so those in need of post-bar solace can find their bliss.

Noah Cho

12. La Santa Torta

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333 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607
(925) 207-9275
Visit Website

You can also catch this truck when it’s parked at East Brother Beer in Richmond, but really any time and any place you can find it is going to be worth it. La Santa Torta does a take on birria de res, and these are some of the best bites in the whole East Bay. Labeled here as “red tacos,” the tender, beefy, drippingly savory birria comes topped with Oaxacan cheese, pickled onions, and a piquant red salsa. Regulars know to get a side of consom as well.

Three birria tacos on a paper plate, with a wedge of lime Noah Cho

13. Taqueria Reynoso

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3329 Foothill Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 261-7568
Visit Website

The birria de res dorados tacos are excellent here, with a shatteringly crisp shell that gives way to succulent meat. Even more delicious are the campechano tacos, filled with varied meats that vary between crisp and soft; get it tongo style to add their nice beans as well as fresh cheese. Also of note for vegetarians here are the sweet potato tacos.

Noah Cho

14. Aguachiles El Tamarindo Taco Truck

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3053 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 500-7552
Visit Website

Part of the empire that is the El Grullense trucks in the East Bay, this particular truck stands out for its truly stunning seafood tacos. All of them are vivid in flavor and appearance, but the true standouts are the camarones a la diabla, with a burns-so-good salsa on top, and the platonic ideal of a surf-and-turf taco that is El Grullense’s steak and shrimp taco. Also excellent is the mango habanero fried fish taco, with the tart fruit and stimulating habanero salsa contrasting the deep-fried richness.

Noah Cho

15. Tacos Sinaloa #2

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3132 E 12th St
Oakland, CA 94601

One of the classics in Fruitvale, there’s really no wrong order at Tacos Sinaloa #2. 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.

16. La Guerrera’s Kitchen

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954 Fruitvale Ave
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 424-8577
Visit Website

Attached to the Aloha Club and featuring a La Cocina pedigree, this outstanding spot features a regular menu and also some rotating tacos. The smoky, tender barbacoa is a standout, and the vegan tacos are some of the best in the area.  Ask for the hottest salsa, which doesn’t skimp on flavor in favor of spiciness.

Noah Cho

17. Taqueria El Paisa@.com

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4610 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 610-6398
Visit Website

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.

Tacos at Taqueria El Paisa@.com Noah Cho

18. La Grana Fish

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865 50th Ave
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 612-5917

A current social media phenomenon but with actual deliciousness to match, everything here is pretty awesome. This is one of the few places in the East Bay that serves a quesabirria taco, which is a consomé-dipped tortilla with griddled cheese and birria de res piled inside. It’s exactly as amazing as it sounds, and you should clear out some time on the weekend — when La Grana Fish is open — to get one or five.

19. United Mexican Food

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2251 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 686-1469

This restaurant is called three different things depending on the platform you use to look it up, but whatever name it goes by, it’s hard to argue with birria tacos that have lamb, goat, and beef options. Order the three-taco option and ask for one of each meat and have a fun time deciding which one is best (there is no best, they’re all delicious).

Noah Cho

20. Taqueria Los 3 Gallos

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22472 Meekland Ave
Hayward, CA 94541
(510) 363-9827
Visit Website

With a cute interior and festive patio complete with a trompo cart out front pumping out al pastor in the evenings, Los 3 Gallos also benefits from some of the juiciest and crispiest chicken for any taco on this map. The restaurant keeps its salsas in a chilled container with onions and cilantro — the tacos come without these, so customers can add them to taste.

Noah Cho

21. Taqueria Senaida's

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150 Tennyson Rd
Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 783-6031
Visit Website

Much like the Matrix, one has to actually see Senaida’s to actually understand it fully. It primarily functions as a drive-thru, and nothing about it appears to have changed in its nearly forty years of existence. However, if the yearning for hard-shell tacos becomes a powerful craving, grab the ground beef tacos here, with a great crispy shell and those fast food-esque fillings that define the best of this genre. There is actual bench seating, but it’s more fun to do the drive-thru.

Noah Cho

22. Los Carnalitos La Mejor Comida Chilanga

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30200 Industrial Pkwy SW
Hayward, CA 94544
(510) 324-8125

A brilliant sit-down restaurant in a nondescript shopping plaza in Hayward, Los Carnalitos turns out incredible food even beyond its exceptional tacos. Of note is the cochinita taco, complete with pickled onions on top, and the al pastor, which comes adorned with an electric-green salsa. Veggie options includes a truly stunning quesadilla with a house-made tortilla that’s filled with huitlacoche, an incredibly earthy fungus that grows on corn.

Noah Cho

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1. La Selva Taqueria

1049 23rd St, Richmond, CA 94804
A charcoal-grilled chicken plate at La Selva Noah Cho

The tacos on their own are great, but the best move at La Selva is to get a nicely charred, well-spiced pollo al carbon, whose outdoor grilling noticeably fills the air around this colorfully decorated restaurant in Richmond’s 23rd street corridor. A full order of this chicken comes with tortillas, excellent, creamy-chunky beans, and fragrant rice. Make sure to sample every salsa from the salsa bar as you build your own tacos.

1049 23rd St
Richmond, CA 94804

2. Tacos El Chino

2300 Humphrey Ave, Richmond, CA 94804
Noah Cho

Located directly across the street from La Selva is another 23rd Street gem, this one is a truck that never moves. The outdoor seating here is lovely for a warm day, as the charming lights and tables make eating tacos al fresco quite appealing. Fans of lengua and shrimp tacos will find themselves delighted by the offerings here. Get your tacos spicy for the full effect and enjoy the charred peppers that come with each order as well.

2300 Humphrey Ave
Richmond, CA 94804

3. Portumex

721 23rd St, Richmond, CA 94801
Noah Cho

If you’re taco crawling through Richmond (you really should be), it’s easy to breeze past Portumex, which looks from both the outside and inside as if it were more of a diner from another era. And though there are diner-style menu items like full breakfasts and burgers, the tacos here are quite delicious, especially when done in a crispy shell. The classic Mexican-American ground beef tacos with neon cheese and lettuce are nostalgia-moan inducing, especially paired with salsas that go far beyond the FIRE level at Taco Bell.

721 23rd St
Richmond, CA 94801

4. Tacos La Raza

514080011, Richmond, CA 94801
Noah Cho

Make sure you’re at the right La Raza in Richmond first; this window is right at the west end of the 23rd Street cornucopia of excellent taquerias. The suadero here is intensely beefy and tender to the tooth but with a still-crispy exterior. Buche here is so well braised and cooked that it only retains the most pleasant of gamey tastes.

514080011
Richmond, CA 94801

5. Maya Taqueria

130 Railroad Ave, Richmond, CA 94801

In the never-ending debate about which taqueria or taquero slings the best al pastor, a good case could be made for this tiny sliver of a taqueria in Point Richmond. Located in a you’ll-walk-right-past-it shop adjacent to a dive bar, the trompo here turns out crisp, succulent al pastor, as well as all of the other classic proteins. Veggie options are solid here, too, with butternut squash being a great option.

130 Railroad Ave
Richmond, CA 94801

6. Tacos El Autlense

601 San Pablo Ave #2, Albany, CA 94706
The Tacos El Autlense truck, parked outside the Hotsy Totsy Club Noah Cho

Anyone who’s had a great night out at the Hotsy Totsy Club has probably dined at Tacos El Autlense without ever knowing its name (if you Google Hotsy Totsy one of the results is “Hotsy Totsy taco truck”). Unless an order of the excellently flavored carne asada, al pastor, or cabeza is taken inside the bar or to go, or eaten in a car parked on the street, there is no place to sit, so plan accordingly. The salsas here are perky and bright, and the cooks and staff are incredibly friendly.

601 San Pablo Ave #2
Albany, CA 94706

7. Tacos Oscar

420 40th St, Oakland, CA 94609
A Tacos Oscar taco Noah Cho

This local darling was recently crowned one of the best new restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit, but those who live in the East Bay have already known and loved Tacos Oscar from its previous life a pop-up. The taqueria’s new digs, a lilliputian endeavor with a shipping container aesthetic, is easy to miss, but worth the effort to find. Though the meat offerings are fantastic, the always-on-the-menu fried egg taco and veggie tacos are standouts, especially the charred broccoli if it’s on the menu that day.

420 40th St
Oakland, CA 94609

8. Tacos Panzon

2000-, 2198 Campbell St, Oakland, CA 94607
Noah Cho

Traffic on Grand Ave. leading onto the Bay Bridge freeway entrance nearby can be a drag, so it might be a good idea to make that trek a little better with some great tacos from this randomly located truck nearby. Tacos Panzon boasts the standard proteins and is not too deep on the offal-based tacos, but getting a couple of flavor-packed and nicely crisped carne asada and chorizo tacos here is the way to go — especially with the pro move of making them “deluxe” tacos with melty cheese and slices of avocado.

2000-, 2198 Campbell St
Oakland, CA 94607

9. Rico Rico Taco

3205 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Noah Cho

This wonderful taqueria presses its own tortillas and boasts an especially lovely al pastor that comes from an ever-turning and ever-busy trompo. There is also an excellent fish taco on the menu and a hearty veggie taco; salsas come in too-small thimble-sized cups, but asking for more isn’t a problem.

3205 Lakeshore Ave
Oakland, CA 94610

10. Xingones at Fort Green

736 Washington St, Oakland, CA 94607
Four tacos at the Xingones pop-up Noah Cho

It would be a strong and solid move to just try all of the regular tacos here, especially the pollo tin-tin (described as “umami-rubbed’ on the menu), but also amazing here is the First Friday, a fried chicken taco inside a flour tortilla. It comes with a tart curtido on top and creamy remoulade that pairs well with the crisp chicken.

736 Washington St
Oakland, CA 94607

11. Tacos Mi Rancho

1434 1st Ave, Oakland, CA 94606
Noah Cho

The expert move with Tacos Mi Rancho, a truck that has no seating save for perhaps some posting up in the bed of a friend’s pickup, is to grab a few barbacoa tacos and bring them over to nearby Lake Merritt and reflect on how lovely life is with solid taco. Tacos Mi Rancho also has the added bonus of being open until 2:30am, so those in need of post-bar solace can find their bliss.

1434 1st Ave
Oakland, CA 94606

12. La Santa Torta

333 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
Three birria tacos on a paper plate, with a wedge of lime Noah Cho

You can also catch this truck when it’s parked at East Brother Beer in Richmond, but really any time and any place you can find it is going to be worth it. La Santa Torta does a take on birria de res, and these are some of the best bites in the whole East Bay. Labeled here as “red tacos,” the tender, beefy, drippingly savory birria comes topped with Oaxacan cheese, pickled onions, and a piquant red salsa. Regulars know to get a side of consom as well.

333 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607

13. Taqueria Reynoso

3329 Foothill Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601
Noah Cho

The birria de res dorados tacos are excellent here, with a shatteringly crisp shell that gives way to succulent meat. Even more delicious are the campechano tacos, filled with varied meats that vary between crisp and soft; get it tongo style to add their nice beans as well as fresh cheese. Also of note for vegetarians here are the sweet potato tacos.

3329 Foothill Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601

14. Aguachiles El Tamarindo Taco Truck

3053 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601
Noah Cho

Part of the empire that is the El Grullense trucks in the East Bay, this particular truck stands out for its truly stunning seafood tacos. All of them are vivid in flavor and appearance, but the true standouts are the camarones a la diabla, with a burns-so-good salsa on top, and the platonic ideal of a surf-and-turf taco that is El Grullense’s steak and shrimp taco. Also excellent is the mango habanero fried fish taco, with the tart fruit and stimulating habanero salsa contrasting the deep-fried richness.

3053 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601

15. Tacos Sinaloa #2

3132 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

One of the classics in Fruitvale, there’s really no wrong order at Tacos Sinaloa #2. 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.

3132 E 12th St
Oakland, CA 94601

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16. La Guerrera’s Kitchen

954 Fruitvale Ave, Oakland, CA 94601
Noah Cho

Attached to the Aloha Club and featuring a La Cocina pedigree, this outstanding spot features a regular menu and also some rotating tacos. The smoky, tender barbacoa is a standout, and the vegan tacos are some of the best in the area.  Ask for the hottest salsa, which doesn’t skimp on flavor in favor of spiciness.

954 Fruitvale Ave
Oakland, CA 94601

17. Taqueria El Paisa@.com

4610 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601
Tacos at Taqueria El Paisa@.com Noah Cho

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.

4610 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94601

18. La Grana Fish

865 50th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

A current social media phenomenon but with actual deliciousness to match, everything here is pretty awesome. This is one of the few places in the East Bay that serves a quesabirria taco, which is a consomé-dipped tortilla with griddled cheese and birria de res piled inside. It’s exactly as amazing as it sounds, and you should clear out some time on the weekend — when La Grana Fish is open — to get one or five.

865 50th Ave
Oakland, CA 94601

19. United Mexican Food

2251 Washington Ave, San Leandro, CA 94577
Noah Cho

This restaurant is called three different things depending on the platform you use to look it up, but whatever name it goes by, it’s hard to argue with birria tacos that have lamb, goat, and beef options. Order the three-taco option and ask for one of each meat and have a fun time deciding which one is best (there is no best, they’re all delicious).

2251 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577

20. Taqueria Los 3 Gallos

22472 Meekland Ave, Hayward, CA 94541
Noah Cho

With a cute interior and festive patio complete with a trompo cart out front pumping out al pastor in the evenings, Los 3 Gallos also benefits from some of the juiciest and crispiest chicken for any taco on this map. The restaurant keeps its salsas in a chilled container with onions and cilantro — the tacos come without these, so customers can add them to taste.

22472 Meekland Ave
Hayward, CA 94541

21. Taqueria Senaida's

150 Tennyson Rd, Hayward, CA 94544
Noah Cho

Much like the Matrix, one has to actually see Senaida’s to actually understand it fully. It primarily functions as a drive-thru, and nothing about it appears to have changed in its nearly forty years of existence. However, if the yearning for hard-shell tacos becomes a powerful craving, grab the ground beef tacos here, with a great crispy shell and those fast food-esque fillings that define the best of this genre. There is actual bench seating, but it’s more fun to do the drive-thru.

150 Tennyson Rd
Hayward, CA 94544

22. Los Carnalitos La Mejor Comida Chilanga

30200 Industrial Pkwy SW, Hayward, CA 94544
Noah Cho

A brilliant sit-down restaurant in a nondescript shopping plaza in Hayward, Los Carnalitos turns out incredible food even beyond its exceptional tacos. Of note is the cochinita taco, complete with pickled onions on top, and the al pastor, which comes adorned with an electric-green salsa. Veggie options includes a truly stunning quesadilla with a house-made tortilla that’s filled with huitlacoche, an incredibly earthy fungus that grows on corn.

30200 Industrial Pkwy SW
Hayward, CA 94544

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