Who would have imagined a taco crawl would last more than 7 hours? How many tacos can a Chowhound eat? I for one can't remember a more enjoyable Saturday.
Arlene, Ben, Millicent, Scott, Jennie, and Windy combed every last corner between 24th and 16th street, hot on the trail of green corn tamales that Melanie had told us about. Alas, we never found them but along the way we did enjoy:
Mission & 25th
This is the annointed taqueria of Michael Bauer and other local critics, and it shows. Mobbed at noon on Saturday with Latino families and plenty of gringos, the tacos had fresh ingredients to spare but very mild sauces. We enjoyed a lengua (tongue), which Ben described as silky; a few tasty carnitas, and a mild pollo with great fresh avocado that Millicent and Windy both liked. These tacos have beans on them and are generous; they are also by far the most expensive tacos in the Mission at $2.75 a piece (call it the Michael Bauer surcharge). The fresa and tamarindo aguas frescas were delicious.
Mission & 25th, next door to La Taqueria
We decided to go next door, despite the emptiness of the place. Ben ordered a huge bowl of menudo. Most of us like the broth better than the tripe, especially after adding cilantro, onions, and lime. We were lukewarm about a chicken mole taco, but much more enthusiastic about a greasy chorizo taco. We also had a
huge plate of chilaquiles, made with eggs and served with refried beans and fresh salsa. Very mild in flavor but strangely addictive--soggy, crunchy, a real Mexican comfort food. No one was sure we loved them, but we did clean the plate. The pina agua was kind of sweet, but the melon (cantelope) was a winner, with bits of fresh melon.
Taqueria San Jose #1
Mission & 24th
Needing a little exercise, we crossed the street to this excellent Jalisco taqueria. Scott commented that three tacos, a tostada, a Coke, and two aguas came to $10. At $1.76 per taco (and $3.33 per burrito), this was the cheapest place by far, and one of the best. San Jose has a salsa bar, with addictive salsa fresca, creamy salsa verde, and a roasted orange salsa that Millicent finished off, with pretty-good free chips. There are also complimentary pickled peppers and radishes. We split on the al pastor--it came with a creamy salsa on top and looked kind of burnt but was truly delicious. The veggie taco was enormous: rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, without a lot of flavor--but all the salsa you could drizzle on it. A ceviche tostada with avocado had a strong lemony dressing that some of us liked more than others. Okay melon agua (for 92 cents) and a perfect horchata finished out the meal.
Hey, we didn't call it a crawl for nothing. We now headed north on Mission, walking through the indoor Mission market at 22nd past El Perol, a great looking
Peruvian seafood cafeteria where we snagged a few alfajores for the road. (Has anyone eaten here?) We strolled by the open air Papa Toby cafe which had live
music, en route to our next destination:
22nd & Valencia
Figuring Rome put the "Latin" in "Latino," we stopped to pay homage to this temple of Italian gastronomy. Lucca is small, fragrant, and packed with delicious canned, bottled, and deli case treats. We ogled for awhile...so many olives! so many tunas! so many pastas!...then Millicent and Arlene plunged into the buying frenzy, aided by Windy's astute guidance. Millicent picked up a bottle of Limoncello, which she'd been wanting to try, and Arlene also made a few purchases.
Dog Eared Books
20th & Valencia
A few eyes lit up as we walked by Dog Eared Books (actually they lit up as we walked by Kentucky Fried Chicken, but none of us was uncouth enough to recommend
it to Stanley for his picnic), so we spent a happy half hour looking over travel books, CDs, and assorted magazines. Arlene picked up a used copy of "A
Cook's Tour," and Millicent got a used copy of "Tender at the Bone."
We were starting to get hungry again, or at least consider thinking of another taqueria. Arlene mentioned she had never had a mojito, so we made tracks for Luna Park--only to find they were closed between lunch and dinner. So we settled for a pitcher of margaritas with chips and guacamole at
16th & Valencia
Decent, cheap, refreshing. Very good chips. Friendly service, serenaded by mariachi guitar. Arlene and Windy liked the red salsa. The guacamole, while huge, was over-refrigerated. We sneaked a little of Millicent's limoncello, and might have wasted more of the day there until we realized we had to get to Anna's before 5:00 closing.
Anna's Danish Cookies
18th between Guerrero & Valencia, across from the women's building.
Arlene picked up a bag of each cookie, we glanced at the murals, and headed for our next sweet spot:
18th & Guerrero
In a frenzy, we grabbed a lemon tart, a frangipane-berry tart, a couple of almond
merengues, a macaroon, a chocolate crinkle cookie, and a Valrona brownie. A little coffee. And headed for Dolores Park, where we enjoyed the sun and gorged on sugar. We suspect that Tartine will maintain a steady business through its practice of dipping crack in chocolate and selling it to people like us. Windy particularly favored the pecan cookies and lemon tart. Everyone got cookies to take home for when/if we're hungry again.
We then stopped by the Casa Lucas market on 16th & Valencia in search of the elusive green corn tamale. There were lovely looking non-green tamales in the
steamer by the cash register, but no one was up to eating one. We were headed back to Luna Park, which had not only opened but filled up. And some of us balked at
paying $7.50 for a dainty cocktail. So, as some of us were starting to wear down a little, we managed to persuade Arlene we did not have the energy to swing by Joseph Schmidt. Instead, we headed back south, making our final stop of the day at
20th & Valencia
Timo's is a Spanish tapas place, so we were jumping borders a little, but Arlene was begging "no more tacos" by this time. So we got an elegant looking liter
of Timo's famous sangria along with a sliver of tortilla espanola and a bowl of mussels cooked in garlic & wine. We also snacked on baguettes with aioli.
The sangria was very light--maybe it had white wine in it too, but surprisingly good. Despite having eating for 7 straight hours, we somehow finished every bit.
The check at Timo's came to twice what we spent anywhere else along the crawl.
Total expenditure: Food--just over $25 each. Mileage--3. Calories--8000. Company--priceless.