When I was in the Bay Area last September, I managed to squeeze in Laotian takeout in Oakland and that’s as much as I saw of Berkeley’s neighbor. This time, carless in San Francisco, I didn’t want to restrict myself to one land mass like New York tourists who won’t branch out from Manhattan even if only for one meal (of course, they could also go to museums, shop or sit in parks, if they’d like). Luckily, my ‘90s teenage penpal Layla lives in Oakland and is now a grownup who was willing to pick James and I up at a BART station and squeeze in a bit of afternoon eating and drinking. (Also, her band The Wrong Words is playing in NYC this week—you should give them a listen.)
Taqueria Sinaloa was exactly the type of place I was looking for because it’s exactly the type of large-open-space, temperate-weather business—a whole corner with permanent outdoor seating for just two trucks?—you don’t see in NYC.
I have been under the impression that tripa is tripe (that’s how it’s always translated here and stomach is definitely what I’ve been given) and that chinchulines are intestines (based only on meals eaten in Buenos Aires, which has nothing to do with Mexican food, granted) but at this truck, tripitas meant intestines. At $1.25, this specialty definitely had to be ordered, along with pastor and carnitas (so, I like pork).
The intestines turned out to be chopped into bits and were so tender and innocuous that you could serve a pile inside of tiny doubled-up corn tortillas to an organ meat hater and they could barely get mad at you. You would be hard pressed to pick out the tripitas from this foursome (it’s the lower left corner). I actually had been hoping for crispy-fried tubes like you see in Sichuan dishes. Which isn’t to say that these tacos were disappointing—they were very good.
Ceviche can also be had atop a tostada.
San Francisco and environs has an abundance of tiki, old-school and revival. Unfortunately, tiki isn’t an afternoon affair and we had to get back to San Francisco before Forbidden Island’s 5pm opening time. I opted for the Tonga Room instead (photos without commentary—the experience just ended up being too weird and frustrating to go into, but involved 20+ black Muslims, a Costco cake and a slew of rambunctious children forcing us out of our quiet corner of the bar by essentially surrounding us and taking over our table—more a fault of the server who sat them, not the celebrants) so we had a drink and shared a dessert at Flora, a deco brasserie downtown.
A Bulldog Smash (Bulleit bourbon, peach, mint, lemon, curaçao) was the perfect sunny day drink, never mind that you can barely get away with bare legs during Bay Area summers (not a complaint—I just wasn’t used to not sweating). The Salt & Pepper (Miller’s gin, grapefruit, lemon, Angostura bitters) was also refreshing—no actual pepper, just black salt.
The whipped cream-topped caramel pudding with wonderful salt flakes nearly made up for not getting to Bi Rite for their salted caramel ice cream.
Taqueria Sinaloa * 2138 International Blvd., Oakland, CA
Flora * 1900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA