A Taqueria

What does Taqueria translate to in English?
Meaning of taqueria in English

a restaurant, usually a small and fairly cheap one, that sells tacos (= a hard, thin type of Mexican bread folded and filled with meat, cheese, vegetables, etc.): They have an extensive menu for a place that describes itself as a taqueria.

Welcome to the Bay Area’s golden age of tacos

Regional taco styles are flourishing. Thank the pandemic.

Growing up in Oakland, Mariana Aguirre, who now runs the Tijuana-style taqueria La Parrilla Loca, noticed “there wasn’t much variety in Mexican comfort food.”

But now, look around. You’ll find smoky tacos al carbon from Tijuana, like those Aguirre makes; steamy tacos al vapor from Jalisco; scarlet-tinted al pastor shaved from a trompo hailing from Puebla; and tender, fatty lamb barbacoa from Hidalgo.

The Bay Area is entering a golden age of tacos. I’m seeing a concerted effort to represent various regional taco styles, with much of our local taco wealth concentrated in San Jose and Oakland. But how did we get here?

For many taqueros, the pandemic was an accelerant for opportunity, creating a renewed energy around tacos. The movement is a combination of nostalgia and necessity: folks seeking tastes of home, preserving tradition and searching for a way to make an extra buck.

Plate of tacos al vapor (steam) from El Tacostao, a home taqueria in Oakland.
Gringa, a quesadilla of sorts with paper-thin al pastor and pineapple shards from Tacos Al Pastor Puebla

There’s also the key trend that preceded our taco renaissance: the quesabirria era. It was those scarlet-colored, cheesy, stewed beef tacos from the likes of Tacos El Patron, El Garage and OG tacos that captured the eyes and stomachs of the Bay Area, and seeded demand for more tacos generally.

Today, beef birria has joined the pantheon of taqueria classics. But bubbling beneath the surface was a kaleidoscopic taco scene that was mostly underground — people selling food from home and promoting it on social media. Now it has boiled over into a varied, immensely exciting taco-eating experience.

When I was researching my list of Top East Bay Tacos earlier this year, I was drawn to the regional-style offerings found in Oakland and Richmond homes. I was entranced by the sticky, fatty carnitas from Carnitas El Canelo in Richmond. I found vestiges of home in the bottom of a bowl of beef head consomé from El Tacostao in East Oakland. I luxuriated in the soft, pliable Sonoran flour tortillas from Tacos Mama Cuca.