Street tacos: where and how SF

I’m past the metabolism for Mission burritos so have switched my order to a couple of street tacos.
My usual order is cabeza with everything on a single tortillas, an extra jalapeno on the side as well as grilled onions. I will settle for lengua or birria if they don’t do cabeza. So far, my favorite trucks are in the Valley, off Highway 12 at Interstate 5, across from the Sinclair station, and in Lodi, La Morenita.

Do you have recs for in town, SF?

(It is ironic that often there is a central kitchen or commissary that supplies dozens of trucks yet the product out the window is different at each.)

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I always order my three favorites. Cabeza,lengua,and birria. Just like you . No sf recs . There is a truck that comes from yreka down to weed . It’s very good .

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I like Leo’s for pastor. Venice and la Brea. Green salsa on top.

So many trucks everywhere. Good problem.

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The name escapes me (El Flaco?), but the truck on Illinois between 26th & Cesar Chavez serves up the best cabeza tacos I have tried in SF.

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Thanks! For cabeza, I travel!

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If you aren’t limiting yourself to trucks, I’ve been eating cabeza and lengua tacos at La Taqueria since the late 80’s. They are my gold standard, having sampled many, many examples over the decades. The quality of meat is higher than most, and the quantity is higher than most (as is the price). Just meat, cilantro, chopped white onion. The most important thing is to ask for hot sauce when you order. The sauce is red, and a lot hotter and tastier than the green sauce that is on the table.

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I like the lengua at la taqueria. But in the recent past, I’ve been frequenting the El Gallo Giro truck on 23rd between Harrison and folsom. I think their lengua is on par with la taq, and I liked their cabeza also.

Definitely worth a try.

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I ‘grew up’ eating tacos on the streets of TJ in the early 2000s so my preferred tacos are al pastor, tripas, and adding to that later in life, real suadero. I don’t get the “TJ-style” with a huge glop of guacamole — I never saw that back then; we used to love how the taqueros would ‘throw’ the spoonful of thin salsa onto the tacos from a couple feet away. I also don’t get the birria craze — birria used to be a Sunday morning thing where you get a container from the street and some tortillas and take it home, not eaten like the current quesabirrias you see everywhere now. Also it was goat.

So I’m probably not the best to recommend cabeza or birria (although I do order lengua every now and then) in SF, which isn’t the best taco town, although you can find good tacos.

Taqueria Vallarta is probably the closest to a certain type of street taco you’ll find in Mexico cooked on a sombrero style cooker. Not sure if they have cabeza but I always get their buche there which is pretty good.

El Gallo Giro gets a lot of love online but even giving it multiple chances, can’t say I care for it. I’d rather go to Taqueria San Jose even (which has cabeza but I’ve never had it).

There are two new actual street taco spots that we randomly found (after walking to Mission Bar to eat Yamo — they were/are doing takeout only) on Mission at night. We had just gotten back from living in PDC for a couple months so can’t compare but they were pretty good. And looks like they have cabeza.

That’s a lot just to say I’m not the best help on your SF cabeza taco quest. But here are some photos to maybe inspire you for some other tacos from some recent taco eatings/crawls (we do a mission taco crawl every month or so we’re in SF).

Pastor and buche from Vallarta

New (?) street tacos on Mission: El Pollito


Al pastor from Taqueria San Jose

Pastor from Ojo de Agua (across the street from 850 Bryant)

Not SF, but just had al pastor and lengua from the Tacos la Perla truck in West Oakland last week (lengua was good)

Also not SF, but al pastor from El Ultimo Baile in Oakland (definitely bring home some of the great flour tortillas he sells too)

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Thanks for the vicarious treats. Those all look great. I have enjoyed buche and gust birrra at the Laney College flea market pre-Covid but sadly neither booth has returned after lockdown.

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among other advantages, tacos are so much more photogenic than burritos

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In Santa Barbara the #16 Super Rica especial with chili pasilla, marinated pork and cheese (and homemade tortillas) is probably my favorite taco of all time. Also great salsas provided.

Another favorite is at Corazon at the SB Public market. The Norteno is skirt steak, beans, guacamole and cheese with salsa mugrosa and the Tijuana with octopus, shrimp, cheese, avo and a great peanut arbol salsa.

Not exactly street but inexpensive and really good.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr