Tacos at El Paisa@.com, East Oakland

Read Luke Tsai’s piece on El Paisa@.com (Top 10 bites of 2015) earlier. He loved the place and especially the tripa tacos. I went to the zoo on Saturday, and dropped by their place nearby on International Blvd for some tacos beforehand, as part of my ongoing quest to find great tacos that compare well with those from Mexico.

Tacos I had, and in rough order of preference:
tripa x3

(Choriza was not available that day. I didn’t get the seso/ brain.) Also got the agua piña.

The tacos came with two tortillas, with cebollitas, jalapenos, limes, chopped onion and cilantro on top. The condiment bar offers 2 salsas, guac, pickled carrot, cucumber chile.

Get the fatter meat/ offal cuts and skip the lean cuts. The tripa was great with fatty goodness, crispy outside and tender inside. Lengua was subtly marinated and cooked. Suadero and cabeza were also enjoyable. I didn’t find the pastor memorable compared to the ones from D.F. and Mexico- perhaps I missed the sweetness from the pineapple. Chicken breast was dry. But the tripa compared favorably to any tacos from Mexico.

Salsas and guac were all spicy. The Guac had habanero in it. I sipped on the agua piña after tasting these. My child sipped on the same straw afterwards. And for the entire meal afterwards my child complained that everything, including the tacos and the meat, was spicy. They were well done but a bit beyond my ability to handle heat or i’d have taken some home. One actually may need less salsa to let the subtly marinated meat shine. I didn’t ask for the hot sauce (4th picture, left hand side) available for request from the kitchen.

$2.25 per taco. Pay for the food at the cashier and then move down the line and the señors will cut the meat for you. We were the only gringos there. Murals of what I think was D.F., Xochimilco, Teotihuacan, etc. outside the taqueria.

4610 International Blvd

^^ Round 1: Tripa, suadero, lengua, pastor, cabeza

^^ Round 2: tripa x2, pollo, asada


Thanks for the detailed review. I’ve been curious about this place but haven’t found anyone who’s been to it.

Thanks for the post. I’ve been there a number of times. My only mistake was going on a Sunday in the early evening (~5-6 pm), because it was just mobbed with families etc.

I would agree that cuts like tripa and suadero are the way to go. Prices went up recently by a quarter or two for everything - a burrito and small drink went from $10 to $10.75. I like their horchata - it’s pretty sweet, but good. Tacos or platos are probably the best way to go, but I am usually getting something to go and it has to be portable - hence the burrito.

Note that on my last visit they added roasted whole small onion and one nopal to the plate.

FYI, salsas are in a case near the entrance. You pick up your food and add the sides/salsas. Along with the salsas (yes, the one with avocado is extremely spicy) are garnishes - not just pickled carrots etc. but also sliced cucumbers and other things that I cannot remember. There are small containers for the salsas, and if you are getting something to go they will offer some foil so that you can make up a packet of garnishes.

Note that they do have a parking lot, with the entrance on International. Some of the times that I have been there there is security-like person keeping an eye on the lot.


(Mod: Merging threads)

A friend introduced me to his favorite taqueria this weekend. It’s far down International Blvd, near 47th, and well worth the trip, especially if you’re into organ meats.

You order at the cash register, and then hand your receipt to one of the gentlemen behind the counter who chops your meat to order. This type of service allows to meat to retain its moisture, especially the sausage-- does any other taqueria around here serve chorizo, chopped fresh from its casing?

Before throwing two small tortillas per taco on the grill, they dip them in a wide pot of slow cooked meat. The suadero, which is cow hip according to the guys at Taqueria Vallarta, is a great balance of meatiness and cushiony fat. Chorizo was juicy and had lots of heat spice— I don’t think I’ve had a Mexican sausage like this before (it wasn’t morcilla).

Luke Tsai did a review with lots more detail:

Taqueria el paisa
4610 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

1 Like

Inspired by the Luke Tsai article you linked, I went out to El Paisa a few times and have had the pastor, suadero, tripa and lengua tacos and, though not a taco expert, they are the best I’ve had.

When you order, make sure you tell the preparers that you want pickled nopales and grilled onions (free) with your tacos. I received two 4 or 5-inch long slippery cactus slices on my plate next to the tacos as well as 2 grilled but not carmelized small onion bulbs. One of the salsas at the salsa bar had big chunks of pineapple in it and another had spicy thick slices of cucumber.

I went on a weekday and the wait was only a few minutes. There are seats inside and outside. From the pickup window you can see bubbling, very wide-diameter pans filled with meat and percolating juices from which they they pull the protein and loudly chop fresh pieces for the tacos.

I didn’t try the other offerings such as tortas or burritos.

This place is incredible. Luke’s review is the only full review that I’ve come across and there are only a few recent snippet reviews on that other site.

Tacos are $2.25 each and burrtos/tortas are in the $8.50 range or so. i think that included tax.


I haven’t been to either, but the merged thread should definitely live here, as there is an indoor El Paisa at 29th Ave and International. I drive by that more frequently, so noticed it before anyone wrote about the @.com version, but the storefront does mention internet access, so I don’t know if they are related.
As for chorizo, I haven’t run into any taqueria here that serves chorizo that was ever in a casing. It’s usually a seasoned loose meat. I’m no expert, but the only time I’ve gotten chorizo in a casing (red and green) was when I lived by Zaragosa Deli in New York. All other taqueria, supermarket, and Mexican grocery chorizos have been seasoned loose meat, perhaps encased in plastic for distribution. I’m curios, is casing traditional to any specific region or tradition. It looks like Zaragosa is a city in Coahuila, just over the border from Texas.
I’ll try to go to both soon, to try to answer my own question s to whether they are related, and to get some suadero and chorizo.

Went here a couple times recently. The name is a mystery to me as none of the menu items seem in any way internet enabled but I will confirm the tacos are excellent. My favorites were AL pastor, cabeza, tripas and suadero, though the latter may be better at other places. Chorizo was excellent, the sausage I saw was definitely still in the casing but they chop it all up into bits first. I did not enjoy the sesos; I disagree that it is like sweetbreads, it lacks the texture of the latter, emphasizing the organ meat flavor to a fault at least to my taste. The beans I ordered in the side were well seasoned tasty pintos. The cucumbers on the fixings bar were nice in a vinegar and chili dressing but what stood out were some.pickled.potates and carrots with allspice flavor. The quite hot avocado salsa was delicious as was the green taco sauce; I felt the red was standard. Grilled onion was great but the second time I was there they were momentarily out and I was denied.

Very busy at lunch on the weekends. Looking forward to return visits.

Been twice…tacos way too salty.

Went again last weekend- I didn’t find anything particularly salty. The saltiest thing I tried was the pinto beans, which I thought were just right. In other threads and on other sites I’ve noted that I like things somewhat saltier than the average, but my wife is more normal in that regard and didn’t complain at all- I think she likes this place more than I do.

I’m glad I finally stopped by. Though they were temporarily out of tripas at mid-afternoon, I enjoyed my tacos, and the tortillas, meat choices, and salsas bar stood out from the many good but not particularly special East Oakland taco trucks. And I always like nopal.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the sesos, though I don’t think I’ve had brain in a non-European context before. I’d previously thought of it as just very fatty (and generally served fried), but this had a gamy taste that I didn’t care for (though not so much I abandoned eating it). The chorizo, grilled in a casing and chopped had a nice spicing, but was drier than chorizo I usually get, which is prepared as a griddled loose sausage, and tends to be fattier and wetter. The suadero was my favorite of this round, with a buttery flavor and nice texture.

I enjoyed a bus trip to El Paisa last Thursday for an early lunch of two tacos, asada and suadero for $2.50 each. At about 11:45 there was no waiting at the ordering window and just a minute or two at the take-out window for the prep, which included the optional complimentary pinto beans, nopales and cebollitas.

To my plate, I added marinated pineapple, carrot and potato from the salsa bar which tasted of vinegar, hot sauce and a sweetspice like clove or cinnamon. Topped it off with a ladle of a hot guacamole.

The suadero was a bit softer than the asada but both had some firmness, not tough, on the edges of the small bits under the pinto beans, maybe an ounce or two of meat each. Neither protein was salty.

There were plenty of tables available to eat at and I think that some of the construction workers I had seen earlier on International were taking their lunch inside.

There were spaces available in the adjacent parking lot and the eastbound AC Transit LIne 1 International Blvd stops directly across the street at 46th Avenue. The westbound stop for downtown Oakland is right in front of El Paisa.

On International, I saw the first signs of construction of the long-planned bus rapid transit (‘BRT’) dedicated lanes and if the expedited route stops at the same places as the current line, it will pass next to Nyum Bai (Fruitvale), Geoff Deetz’s Temple Club at 23rd Avenue, Banh Mi Ba Le at 19th Avenue and the new Tasty Pho at 2nd Avenue.

Back to Broadway downtown, near the Oakland Marriott City Center at 11th Street which is adjacent to offices and the practice facility of the Golden State Warriors, there was still a buzz in the air from from the heightened pedestrian traffic of what appeared to be visitors in town for the NBA Finals that would start that evening.

1 Like

update from the East Bay Express on June 6, 2018:

Taqueria El Paisa@.com

Out of the three sit-down places that we visited recently, El Paisa still reigns supreme. Our rating hasn’t changed one bit since our former food critic, Luke Tsai, reviewed it back in 2015. His words remain true: “the end product is often so spectacular, it’s difficult to describe an El Paisa taco without just lapsing into profanity.” El Paisa also offers the best salsa bar of them all, with an outstanding selection of salsas, the tastiest chili-laced cucumber slices, and tangy carrots. They don’t dump onion and cilantro and sauce on your tacos. Rather, they let you decide how to spice them. Seating includes indoor tables and a shaded patio. We spent $18 for eight tacos and one horchata.

article cross-posted in the Oakland News thread: