Richmond’s 23rd St runs north from the old downtown’s main drag, ending at San Pablo Avenue. It is a border street, separating the more “desirable” (but still quite modest) “North and East” neighborhood from the grittier “North and West.”
The street is lined with a dense profusion of small businesses, many of them restaurants. Towards the southern end, these are mainly Mexican, but as you move north, passing Richmond High, there is more of a mix, (including a Laotian spot which I’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t made it to yet). Overall, it’s one of those streets whose restaurants you could spend a good year blogging over without repeating yourself (especially if you are as lackadaisical a poster as I am).
Anyway, when I’m over that way, as I often am, I’ll stop at my favorite non-vehicular taco truck, at the corner of 23rd and Esmond.
El Tapatio, which at first glance might deceive you, is actually a traditional sit-down Mexican restaurant with a faux taco truck hanging off the side. I’ve never actually eaten inside, preferring the excellent and super-cheap offerings of the “truck.”
Everything I’ve had here has been a least very good, but I’m most partial to the burrito al pastor. The carnitas and asada are good too, but, to be honest, I most recently had the cabeza and thought it was a little bland.
(The tacos are also an excellent option here. I have not, however, tried the tortas since typically these are tough to eat in the car without ending up with half of it down the front of your shirt and they don’t travel as well as a burrito if you’re doing take-out.)
The prices are awesome. At $3.00, the regular burrito (rice, beans and whatever filling you order) strains the stomach. The $4.00 super burrito is also a bargain, although I find that all that guacamole and stuff is a distraction from what the burrito is all about – ie, the meat.
Here’s the cabeza burrito that I picked up a few days ago. (That day I brought home dinner for myself, my wife, 2 of my kids and 2 of their friends and the whole meal didn’t even set me back $20.00!)
The truck is open 24 hours a day – so if you’re desperate for a burrito at, say, 3:00 AM, head on down there. Personally, though, I’m never that desperate. While 23rd is a bustling street during daylight and I’m pretty comfortable there, after dark – and especially in the middle of the night – well, I’d just have to be really hungry.