Indoor seating, outdoor covered seating, two trucks on standby, ample parking, and catering services available, this is not the standard taquería. Taquería Sinaloa, on the north corner of International Blvd and 22nd Ave, is a center of freshness. Sure, the neighborhood might look run down, but excellent food is blind to socioeconomic status.
Our quesadilla was loaded with steak and cheese, folded in a crispy grilled tortilla. The carne asada was finely chopped, so it was easy to take bites without pulling out large pieces of meat. The juicy grilled steak’s flavor was rich, cooked with garlic, onion, and mild spices. Of course, a quesadilla is nothing without cheese, but the cheese really made this item soar with gooey goodness. Because it came out so fresh and hot, the cold crema on the side helped cool it down and add some creaminess to the textures. Be careful with the garnishes, though, as they are unexpectedly hot.
For $10, this burrito is absolutely worth it. We asked them to cut it in half so that you could see the insides for a photo, but normally they present it whole… and it’s over a foot long. Zach estimates it could easily weigh two and a half pounds of rice, whole beans, sour cream, cheese, hot sauce, and meat. You can choose any one of eight types of meat for any of the menu items, from chicken to cabeza (head), chorizo and tripitas (chitlins). Zach chose carnitas, or fried pork, which was super flavorful. Unlike most carnitas we’ve had before, this was crispy like it’s supposed to be but still tender and juicy, and it maintained its crunchiness amidst the steaming heat of the rice and beans. We have to make a point of saying the beans are whole, because it would seem that very few places in Oakland offer refried beans, so don’t bother asking for them.
Three tacos are plenty of food for a meal on its own, and a benefit is the option of choosing a different meat for each. All tacos come sprinkled with chopped cilantro and onions, both vibrantly fresh and zesty. It was a nice detail that the onion was cut finely enough that we got no large chunks of biting flavor. Closest in the forefront of the picture is lengua, or tongue, which was more tender than the typical tongue. We’re no expert on cow tongue, but whether it was special seasoning or exceptional freshness, this tongue was great. What’s more, it didn’t have a gamey flavor to it. Instead of a chili red sauce like the other two tacos, this had a tangy green sauce. The chicken was equally as tender as the tongue, and we thought the red sauce was used wisely because the green sauce wouldn’t have worked in the same way. The al pastor taco was amazing, and August was glad she saved it for last. We could actually taste the tangy pineapple needed for preparing this style of pork, making it a contender for one of the best she has had.
Please don’t let the neighborhood scare you. There is a security guard on the premises, but everyone around the corner is friendly because they are either making, smelling, or eating the wonderful food. Next time, because there will definitely be a next time, we’ll walk from the taco truck to the marisco truck and try the seafood items. Plus, the chocolate drink called champurrado looked pretty tempting, but we already had eaten enough and even had leftovers for Bea the dog. Another day, another savor.