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Restaurants & Bars 12

Oakland: Taco Grill – soul-satisfying pozole, sublime crispy tacos, organic tortillas, Niman Ranch albondigas and birria de chivo

rworange | Jan 6, 200807:01 PM

On a cold, almost-drizzly day the wonderful pozole surtido was just the right dish ... almost all meat and hominy and nicley spiced adding comforting warmth. Paired with the house-made tortillas full of corn flavor and aroma … it was pozole perfection. They have three other types of pozole.

The surtido (combination) has cachete, oreja, lengua, paladar …cheeks, ears, tongue … and it turns out paladar is the upper part of the mouth or palate. The collagen from these cuts adds wonderful richness. Other than the pig ear the rest just looked and tasted like shredded pork, nothing scary.

It was a nice, tasty small pig's ear and anyone who likes pigs feet ... the texture and taste is similar.

There were also little bones which added to the flavor IMO. This comes with micro-thin crispy, blistered tostadas, chopped onion, cilantro, lime, sliced radish and shredded cabbage.

While waiting for my take-out order, I had the three crispy tacos. It is your choice of filling so I had one of each - shredded beef, chicken, potatoes, Like the tostada these were thin and delicate. They held small amounts of each filling and were beautifully topped with cabbage, cojita and drizzled with crema. They were absolutely elegant and delicious.

The beef was the best and very juicy. The potatoes were just plain sliced potatoes but it worked especially topped with some of the excellent salsas from the salsa bar. The chicken was fine but next time I’d get two beef and one potato. This is NOT a take-out type of order. It must be eaten immediately right out of the fryer.

I liked the horchata which which not too thin or too sweet. There is a large pot of champurrado on the salsa bar. It was nice that when I sat down they offered me a sample. It was good as far as this drink is concerned ... balanced, not too thin and not overly sweet.

The salsa bar is great. They have amazing pickled vegetables carrots, large white onions, cucumbers, whole jalapenos and whole garlic cloves My favorite salsa was the avocado which had a nice flavor and wasn’t thin like some. There were two nice tomatillo salsas … one mild and one described as medium but it had quite a kick. The thin red sauce was supposed to be the hottest, but that tomatillo beat it in my opinion. The only disappointment was the salsa fresca with too much out-of-season tomatoes and not enough cilantro.

Specials today were
- birria de chivo (goat)
- chile rellenos
- I forget the Spanish name but it was pig feet with eggs

I glanced over at the steam table and noticed something with chunks of corn on the cob which turned out to be the meatball soup (albondigas). It had four juicy meatballs, and big hunks of potatoes, zucchini and chayote. My S/O had this and I just had a taste. It wasn’t on the regular menu or specials board.

Birria has goat meat falling off the bone in a mildly spicy plasma-red sauce.

There is a bowl of masa with a towel on top to keep it moist. A small amount is removed, rolled into a ball,placed in a tortilla press and then grilled.

I liked the light touch with the fat … just enough for flavor. I didn’t get that heavy feeling after some lard-laden Mexican meals where I feel like I may soon be joining my dinner in piggy heaven

When you can have three deep-fried tacos with cheese and crema and feell like you've eaten a healthy lunch, that says something.

Very nice staff. Clean bright place with large sunny (when there’s sun) windows. I once complained to someone that these little mom and pops were trying to model their looks after chains and that person said that was a good thing because it might attract people who might not walk into a more old-school type of establishment.

That is turning into a very pleasant location with some good quality food.

It is located next to the florist shop across from the churro stand. There’s a new juice bar, La Verbena, in the building and at first I though that might be the place but it really didn’t look like the type of place putting out tacos and pozole. The ice cream guy directed me to Taco Grill.

Here’s a link to the menu from a previous post. Check the specials board and glance over at the steam table to see what’s there.

Taco Grill
3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

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