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Berkeley's Best: Tacubay now open for dinner

Morton the Mousse | May 28, 200510:39 PM

I always wanted to go to this Dona Tomas spinoff, but I rarely eat lunches out. Now that they are open for dinner Friday through Sunday, I'm a complete addict. The food is excellent and the prices are reasonable. Be warned, this is unlike most Mexican joints. There are no burritos on the menu. There are no flour tortillas. There is very little emphasis on beans and rice. They use seasonal vegetables (asparagus-goat cheese quesadillas!) and hormone free meats. It's best described as a Cal-Oaxacan fusion Tacqueria. Whatever you call it, it's some of the best food I've ever had.

I've tried almost everything on the menu, all of it is delicious, some of it is outstanding. Plates are well priced ($3-6 each) and, unlike most small plate restaurants, you can eat your fill of different things without feeling ripped off. If your going for the first time, my favorite dishes are:

Chile Relleno: Stuffed with fresh cheese and seasonal vegetables. Perfectly battered and fried and covered with an exquisite sauce. Hands down, the best chile relleno I've had.

Tacos are simple: meat and salsa fresca in a fresh corn tortilla. Succulent beef tongue, tender carne asada, moist and crispy fish tacos (you know it's Cal fusion when the fish tacos are topped with aioli).

Taquitos: filled with potatoes, onion and cheese and covered with fresh cream. The outer shell is a perfect crispy contrast with the gooey inside. The sauce is to die for.

Papas and crema: Best fried potato dish I've had. Fried potato cakes covered in fresh cream and fresh salsa.

As tempting as it is to order everything from the menu, make sure to save room for fresh churros and Mexican hot chocolate. I hate to sound redundant, but the churros are also the best churros I've ever had. One order comes with a plate of three churros, hot out of the fryer and covered in cinnamon and sugar. I can never resist them, no matter how full I may be.

The pricing is a bit high for order-at-the-counter Mexican but dirt cheap for Cal-fusion small plates. You would probably be satisfied with $10 worth of food per person, but I usually pig out and spend $15.

My only complaint about Tacubaya is the beverages. The Mexican Chocolate is divine, but the Horchata is way too sweet. The beer is overpriced for a counter style place ($4 for a can of Tecate!?). So stay away from the drinks, and spend the extra few dollars on another dish.

Lastly, parking is a breeze for dinner. Most of fourth street is shut down in the evening and you can get free parking in a lot right next to the restaurant.

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