Eating Local: The Best Dishes in the Bay Area

Ana Picazo - San Francisco Bay Area
January 22, 2013

From the street names to the architecture to the labor force, the Mexican influence around the Bay Area is undeniable, and nowhere is it more evident—or delicious—than in the food scene. Forget Taco Bell, there's a good Mexican restaurant serving delicious, authentic Mexican food just waiting to be discovered at almost every corner.  Here are five of our favorites:

1. The Bay Area is chock-full of taco joints, but San Francisco's La Taqueria is a definite stand-out. They've been serving amazing Mexican food since the 1970s, and they've been gathering crowds and rave reviews ever since. Many say these are the best tacos in San Francisco! Prices are not dirt-cheap, but you get what you pay for: huge, full-to-bursting tacos; fresh, flavorful ingredients; sizzling meat fillings fresh from the grill. Credit cards are not accepted, so bring cash—and save some room for the fruit drink of the day.

2. Food lovers looking to go beyond steak or carne asada tacos will find some out-of-the-ordinary alternatives at El Tonayense's. Their Mission District taqueria and fleet of taco trucks offer lengua (tongue), tripitas (tripe), cabeza (beef head) and sesos (beef brains). Just dab some of their special sauce (and maybe use the Spanish words) when offering them to your little one, and you could have an adventurous eater in the making!

3. La Borinqueña may be the title of Puerto Rico's official anthem, but the only thing Puerto Rican about Oakland's La Borinqueña Mex-icatessen & Specialty Shop is the founder's husband. The founder, like the food, is authentically, deliciously Mexican. Enjoy their famous tamales, handmade with stone ground corn flour, then pick up a pan dulce from their bakery (along with a bagful of authentic Mexican spices and ingredients from the tienda, or shop) on the way home.

4. Loyal Oaxacan Kitchen fans bemoaning the Palo Alto restaurant's closure have turned to the streets for their Oaxaan Mole Negro fix: the owners started the Oaxacan Kitchen Mobile food truck in 2011 and continue to serve fresh, locally sourced, authentic Oaxacan food. Oaxacan Kitchen roadies stalk their online schedule to make sure they always know where to go for Empanadas Oaxaqueñas, Molotes, y Chilaquiles.

5. La Victoria Tacqueria in San Jose serves fresh, tasty, authentic Mexican food—burritos, tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, chile rellenos, and the like—but it's their famous Orange Sauce that turned a tiny taqueria serving the students of San Jose University into five Bay Area locations. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, so the only way you can enjoy this spicy sauce is to join the queue (be forewarned: La Vic's has long lines until the wee hours of the morning!) or buy a bottle to take home.

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