By Kathy Chouteau
With its freshly painted, bright orange exterior, Taqueria La Bamba shines like a Mayan sun on San Pablo Avenue in Richmond.
On a recent lunchtime visit to the Mexican-El Salvadoran fusion eatery, The Rich Life observed a bevy of women reigning supreme in the cucina, expertly slinging freshly made pupusas and rolling up super burritos.
Watching the open-kitchen activity was a packed house of patrons, eagerly awaiting or enjoying their lunches—police officers, firemen and many other locals among them.
Located at 12345 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond—“La Bamba”—as it is locally known, has been serving its fusion delights to the community for nearly 30 years. About two years ago, the establishment changed ownership and onetime employee Janette Deras, and her husband, Carlos, took over operations.
Since then, the Deras’ have implemented a number of cosmetic improvements to La Bamba that have made the restaurant shine as bright as the delicious food it serves. Patrons who haven’t been there in a while will take note of the aforementioned freshly painted exterior and revamped retro sign, as well as a newly decorated and painted interior.
According to the restaurant, its most popular dishes are the pupusas and the burritos, particularly the Burritos Al Pastor (BBQ pork).
During this visit, this reporter decided to sample some of these La Bamba favorites and more, ordering the Carnitas Super Burrito (shredded, grilled pork with rice, pinto beans, sour cream, cheese, guacamole, salsa fresca, onions and cilantro), Cheese Pupusas (I counted ten variations on the menu), and Fried Plantains.
The fresh, flavorful ingredients were transformed by the cucina goddesses into menu selections that, all combined, made for one of the most enjoyable lunches this reporter has had in a long time. The Carnitas Super Burrito was easily one the most delicious burritos I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.
As for the pupusas, La Bamba is well known for them locally and—as it turns out—they live up to the hype. Again, these were the best pupusas this reporter and my family have ever had, and having a six-year-old among us, we consider ourselves experts on cheese + dough dishes.
La Bamba’s Fried Plantains also didn’t disappoint. Overall, the meal was top-notch all the way and accompanied by friendly service from a staff that clearly takes pride in its cooking.
La Bamba features an extensive menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has two humble-but-nicely-decorated interior dining areas with ample seating. Parking is available in a parking lot adjacent to the eatery. It’s open Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sun. 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call 510-235-2288 for take-out and visit them on Facebook here.