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Restaurants & Bars 7

Berkeley - Tacubaya’s Excellent Fearless Menudo

rworange | Dec 11, 200501:19 AM

Served on Saturday and Sunday, the broth is a deep crimson with dots of red pepper (I assume) and has nicely textured hominy. The tripe is outstanding, pieces of it literally melted on my tongue. A nice plate of chopped onions, shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, dried oregano, and lime comes with the soup.

I haven’t eaten a lot of menudo because of a fear of tripe. This is a great introduction if anyone has a similar hang-up. The only less stellar item was the tortillas which, though freshly made, were gummy.

The delicate, tender, fresh-tasting tripe absorbed the soup and I looked forward to each piece.

After a very disappointing first visit to Tacubaya, I decided to stop by again last week while shopping on Fourth Street. The chicken tortilla soup was so good, I thought it might be a good place to try menudo again since they use top notch ingredients and, given the Fourth Street crowd, I didn’t think they would do anything scary. Wonderful stuff.

The tortillas soup was a lovely spicy broth. With shredded chicken, spinach, avocado and the standout cheese. I don’t know what kind of cheese that is but it is heavenly. Each time I took a bite it just overwhelmed me with its deliciousness. The only thing is to request the tortillas strips on the side so they can be added to taste and stay crispy.

For the dishes that succeed. Tacubaya outdoes the zillion Mexican joints in the area. Sometimes those top of the line ingredients do elevate a dish. I really liked the sope with its complex flavors and quality ingredients. The little taco shop can’t compete with this.

There is a trade off. In a good authentic Mexican joint, the chicken will have bones attached and throwing everthing in the pot and long cooking give a great depth and complexity than using chicken breast.

However, Tacubaya quality ingrediants make the dishes sparkle with freshness without sacrificing flavor. It just doesn't have the extra depth ... or lard. It is healtier. Mexican food you can feel good about.

Less successful is the tamale dulce. Filled with raisins and pecans and drizzled with caramel, it was fine but I wouldn’t order it again. The plump raisins were very good though.

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