Photo credit: Azucena Rasilla
By Trevor Felch
Miguel Escobedo and his dark pink kitchen trailer painted with an oh so charming sunglasses-adorned, smiling al pastor trompo need no introduction to the Bay Area dining community — they’re a fixture on the street food circuit, including at Off the Grid markets.
Of course, some of the greatest Bay Area tacos come right from this truck-attached source, whether it’s the namesake al pastor (pork or jackfruit) or nopales or carne asada or garlic shrimp. The tacos decisions don’t end there, either. Hungry eaters can opt for a “gringa taco” with melted Oaxacan cheese, or a “crispy taco” for added crunch, or a “vampiro taco” which adds melted Jack cheese to the mix. And then there are burritos with the same proteins as the tacos, plus the standout “al pastorta” with headlining fillings of al pastor pork, pineapple, salsa verde, and avocado (among other ingredients) that tempt even the most devoted taco fan.
Escobedo is a giant presence on the Bay Area food scene, which means any visit to the truck for lunch will be a fun and delicious experience. He’s a DJ, and he’s been a key figure in helping with the food response to local emergencies in recent years, whether it’s wildfires or the pandemic.
Escobedo might be a prominent Bay Area figure nowadays from Al Pastor Papi, but much of the country knew him even before the truck started from beating Bobby Flay in a made-for-TV burrito competition. He’s a truly busy, jovial, fascinating chef and entrepreneur. But it’s important not to lose sight of how the Al Pastor Papi story is really about how focused Escobedo is about perfecting one of the signature dishes of Escobedo’s hometown, Mexico City, and that dish turned his truck into one of the definitive dining destinations in the Bay Area.
The al pastor tacos are at the top of every “must-try” food list in the Bay Area. So, who else would provide excellent advice for a few other stellar tacos in the Bay Area than the man responsible for Al Pastor Papi’s beloved tacos? Escobedo tells us all.
Here’s Miguel Escobedo’s fave tacos around the Bay Area (and why).
The tacos are great and very authentic, but eating there is a whole experience. You really feel like you’re in Mexico.
Where to find it: 4610 International Blvd., Oakland.
The passion really comes through in every bite of every taco. It’s also the BEST asada taco in the bay, hands down.
Where to find it: Follow the truck’s Instagram page for updates. It frequently is at the Lake Merritt “trees” (277 Grand Ave., Oakland) Thursday-Saturday from noon-7pm and at Temescal Brewing (4115 Telegraph Ave.), Oakland) on Sunday from noon-9pm.
Frank Grizzly’s has a roast duck taco that is expertly put together. Flavor and presentation are always on point.
Where to find it: Frank Grizzly’s currently pops up at Anchor Public Taps (495 De Haro St., San Francisco) Wednesday-Friday from 3pm-8pm and Saturday 1pm-7pm.
My favorite crispy shell taco is the shredded beef taco at Celia’s Mexican Restaurant. I love the homemade shells and well seasoned beef with the house taco sauce and all the fixings.
Where to find it: 1 Vivian St., San Rafael (Escobedo also likes to go to the Daly City location at 379 Gellert Blvd.)
My favorite vegan crispy shell taco comes from The Vegan Mob. It’s so delicious that you forget it’s vegan.
Where to find it: 500 Lake Park Ave., Oaklan