Archive for the ‘Fruitvale’ Category

Tour de Taco: February 20, 2010 (Fruitvale BART)

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on January 28, 2010

So after my last Taco Truck Tour, the good peoples at Oaklandish and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition connected with me and wanted to put together a sort of “best-of” taco truck ride for those who didn’t make it the other times, along with some new ones. And they even made this sweet art for it, too!

I apologize in advance for not organizing one in December (holidays), nor January (work). But I hope I can make up for it, as in a way, this one will sort of be the grand finale of my taco truck tours. In late March 2010, my wife and I will be moving to Bonn, Germany — where there is sadly, a great dearth of taco trucks. I’ll do my best to update the blog remotely as best as I can.

So why would I forsake my beloved tierra de tacos? I’ve just taken a job at Deutsche Welle English (German public radio), where I’ll be the new host of Spectrum, a weekly science and technology show. (Maybe I’ll organize a döner kebab bike ride or something over there.) If any folks are interested in organizing future rides here in Oakland, let me know, and I’ll put you guys in touch.

Thanks again to all who’ve come out for the previous two rides and have made them as fun and delicious as possible!

Here’s the itinerary:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Meet: 11:00 am at Fruitvale BART (Oakland)

1. El Ojo De Agua – 12th St. & Fruitvale Ave.
2. Tamales Mi Lupita – 34th Ave. & Foothill Blvd.
3. El Gordo – International & 42nd Ave.
4. Tacos Guadalajara – 10th St. & Fruitvale Ave.

This should all be wrapped up around 4 pm, but as with the previous rides, feel free to arrive/depart as you please.

5. (Bonus) Cinco de Mayo Ice Cream – 3340 E 12th St & 33rd Ave.
6. (Bonus) The Trappist – 460 8th St (& Broadway)

Bring: Bike, helmet, camera, $10-15 for tacos, maybe $5-$10 for ice cream/beer.

RSVP: Facebook event page

If even half of the 115 people that have RSVPed as of now show up, this will be the largest taco truck ride to date and we’ll definitely need to go in shifts so we don’t totally overwhelm the taqueros. But we’ll figure that out later.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments, or email me: cyrus [at] californiatacotrucks.com

Wrap-Up: Taco Truck Tour Numéro Dos: Foothill Blvd. Edition

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on November 23, 2009

Just like the first taco truck ride, everyone (a high of 45+ riders!) enjoyed a fun, fantastic, safe, ride through East Oakland! We had mainly new people, which is even more awesome!

Still, despite the chilly weather, it was a great day for tacos. And really, what day isn’t?

I personally had a pastor taco, carnitas taco, fish taco, shrimp taco, bites of a tamal de queso and a tamal de puerco and ended up with a sope de pastor. Oh, and a hearty scoop of mango and pitaya ice cream.

By the end, about 10 of us ended up at The Trappist for a few drinks.

If you have any more photos to share, please email me: cyrus [at] californiatacotrucks.com.

Joel’s set is pretty sweet, and even includes this good-looking dude:

Anyone got any recs for Taco Truck Tour Tres? Here’s the Oakland map.

I’m thinking maybe the High St. area ones? December 27, 2009? Leave suggestions in the comments.

Taco Truck Tour #2: Foothill Blvd. Edition (Nov. 22, 2009)

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on November 9, 2009

After the success of October’s taco truck tour, it’s time for another!

Taco Truck Tour Numéro Dos:

When: Sunday, November 22, 2009
Meet: 12:30 pm, Lake Merritt BART station (9th and Oak St., Oakland).
Start: ~ 12:45 pm
End: ~ 3:30 pm ish, Fruitvale BART station
Twitter: @catacotrucks / #tacotrucktour

Itinerary (follow along at Oakland Taco Truck Map 2007)

1) Tacos Alonzo at Foothill Blvd./27th Ave.
2) Tacos El Mazatlan at Foothill Blvd./Fruitvale Ave.
3) Tamales Mi Lupita at Foothill Blvd./34th Ave.
4) Tacos El Tio Juan at Foothill Blvd./41st Ave.
5) Nieves Cinco de Mayo (ice cream) at 3340 E 12th St.

When it’s all said and done, feel free to bike or BART home. Anyone is welcome to join up or leave at anytime, obviously.

Afterwards, I might even be up for a beer at The Trappist (8th/B’way, downtown Oakland).

Bring: bike, helmet, $10-$15 for tacos+ice cream, camera if you want to document the deliciousness

RSVP: Email me cyrus [at] californiatacotrucks [dot] com. Put “Fruitvale taco truck bike tour” in the subject line.

All are welcome!

Man shot, killed at East Oakland taco truck

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on October 16, 2009

According to local media reports, Wayl Aljunaidi, 23, of Oakland, was shot just before 11 pm last night at 3326 Foothill Boulevard in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. He died at Highland Hospital at 3:15 am this morning.

Based on a quick check at Google Maps Street View, it looks like it was just outside the Tamales Mi Lupita taco truck, which was featured earlier this summer on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.”

The Oakland Tribune reports:

Investigators say the man was approached by a group of men, and one of them shot him.

He died at Highland Hospital at 3:15 a.m. today.

Robbery may have been a motive, said Oakland police Officer Jason Andersen, but it has not been determined if anything was taken from the man.

His death marks the city’s 92nd homicide of the year. Last year at this time, there had been 107.

Tragically, this is by no means the first killing at a taco truck in Oakland. Abel Martinez Mejia was killed in January 2008 when he was buying tacos at 85th St and San Leandro Ave. His murderers were sentenced to life in prison earlier this year.

Five Questions with John Birdsall

Posted by Cyrus Farivar on February 17, 2009

So the East Bay Express John Birdsall recently went on a month-long odyssey of Fruitvale taco trucks and came back with this nearly 4,000-word piece: “La Vida Taco.”

I put five questions to him in this email interview.

1) What prompted you to write a month-long odyssey on taco trucks?

I love Fruitvale; it’s the yeastiest, sexiest part of Oakland, maybe the whole Bay. I’ve written about it for SF mag, and I used to hang out there a lot when I did weekly restaurant reviews for the Express. I’d written about the trucks before, but never taken a systematic approach.

2) Do you eat at taco trucks regularly? Are there any (in Oakland or elsewhere), that you really enjoy? I got the impression that you weren’t too impressed with Oakland’s offerings.

3) As a chef, what do you think are the advantages/disadvantages of cooking in a mobile, cramped, kitchen?

2, 3) I don’t eat at the trucks regularly, partly because I live a bit far (in Temescal, North Oakland), partly because I watch what I eat (unless I’m working). Trucks have severe cooking limitations, which gives them rather hobbled success in the taco realm. I mean, those amazing tacos al carbon in Mexico (part charcoal, meat, and onion smell in the street), or cazuela-style scrambled egg tacos in Mexico City …. that doesn’t happen in the trucks. Plus, the taco entrepreneurs here tend to be, well, entrepreneurs first, and cooks second. But that’s not to say that the trucks are failures: They’re about so much more than just what’s on the plate—kind of witnesses to the community. If Fruitvale’s tacos aren’t like Mexico’s, well, Fruitvale isn’t Mexico, either. But it’s delightful in its own way.

The best tacos I’ve had here (again, while doing a story for SF mag) were on the hood of my car in Redwood City: a pile of super-delicious takeout Michoacan-style carnitas (best I’ve had), with warm tortillas I’d bought somewhere else.

4) I love El Ojo de Agua, but usually I get burritos (pastor or chorizo). When living in Oakland, my fiancée, friends and I usually hit it once every week or two. It’s a frequent Friday night cheap dinner. I’ve yet to find a superior taco truck burrito in the Bay Area. I find that they’re well-balanced with their ingredients and don’t find them at all too “wet” as you described. I have had their tacos too, and while I don’t know that they’re the most amazing, they seem perfectly respectable. What makes a good taco for you? A good torta? Burrito?

4. I’ll revisit O de A; maybe I could join you when you return? A good taco is about texture and perfume: an honest, flavorful tortilla; meaty plushness; and a salsa that lets you taste the comal (tomatoes, onions, tomatillos, or chiles seared on the griddle). Best taco I ever had in Fruitvale was at a place that no longer exists: a granny who made goat-meat birria tacos on handmade tortillas: earthy, handmade, and snarly. My fave nontruck place in Fruitvale is the same: A mom who makes essentially three things she learned to make in Jalisco, and doesn’t take shortcuts (plus she gives you a free botana of fried pork skins with warm bean dip… awesome).

5) What advice would you give to taco truck novices?

5. Novices? Go to a truck where you see lots of neighborhood types lined up. Observe first to see if there’s a pattern to what the locals are ordering ( a whole family getting buche sopes, for instance), even if it’s something you wouldn’t normally choose. Chicken and carne asada are, in my opinion, likely to be the least successful meats a taco truck can manage.