Richmond taqueros named ‘Top Tacos in East Bay’ on food critic’s list

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El Garage Birria Tacos (Photo credit: El Garage)

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond taqueros have earned their place on a most auspicious foodie list.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle food team put out its picks for the “Best Tacos in the Bay Area,” with the East Bay serving up so many deliciosos tacos that it earned its own regional guide, “Top Tacos in the East Bay.”

No less than three of Richmond’s finest made the cut, with the Chronicle’s Cesar Hernandez noting that East Bay taqueros “push the format in ways you won’t find elsewhere.” Here are its critic’s picks of the best tacos coming out of Rich City:

El Garage: Honestly, is anyone surprised El Garage made the Chronicle’s list? Rising from the Montano family’s garage at the end of a driveway on Garvin Ave. in Richmond to a brick-and-mortar downtown location at 1428 Macdonald Ave., the family-operated eatery’s birra tacos are the stuff of internet legend. If you haven’t tried them, the lunchtime line winding down the sidewalk tells you all you need to know. Hernandez refers to El Garage’s version as “some of the East Bay’s best birria” that “nails the toasty crunchy tortillas oozing with beef and cheese.”

El Garage (Photo by Kathy Chouteau)

Tacos El Tucan: Tacos El Tucan is another Richmond “Top Tacos” inclusion that shouldn’t surprise any locals, who are accustomed to its (fast-moving) line out the door. The eatery is located at the home of the former Pup Hut at 12505 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond—but now features a bright, red slanted roof instead of the old blue one. The Chronicle said El Tucan’s aforementioned line is “a testament to the quality Tijuana-style tacos” it’s preparing with “smoky, meaty flavors.” Locals can avoid the lines by ordering Tacos El Tucan on DoorDash.

El Tucan

Carnitas El Canelo: The Chronicle reports this Richmond, home-based taqueria “can be tricky to find” as it’s located “behind a wooden door in a Richmond cul de sac.” However, the Richmond Standard can inform readers that Carnitas El Canelo can be found serving up its fare in the alley across the street from this address—684 Turpin Ct. in Richmond—Fridays from 4:30 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays & Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s operated as a “side hustle” by the Graciano family, who kicked it off around the start of the pandemic as they save up to launch a food truck, per son Ulises Graciano. Food writer Hernandez called it a “taco Narnia” and cited its Pueblan-style “cemitas, carnitas and tacos dorados” as its specialties. Stay updated on Carnitas El Canelo via Instagram here.

Cemitas (left) and tacos placeros by Carnitas El Canelo (Photos courtesy of El Canelo)

Honorable mention:

La Santa Torta may be an Oakland food truck, but Richmond claims it as its own Wednesday through Sunday afternoon/evenings when it can be reliably found at East Brother Beer Co. serving up its Jalisco-style quesabirria tacos. The Chronicle called the food truck’s tacos “a messy affair worth the trouble.” Find the food truck at East Brother Beer Co., 1001 Canal Blvd. in Richmond. Catch up with La Santa Torta on Instagram here.