Redwood City might just be the epicenter of Mexican everything. The roots of this Peninsula town trace back to the ’40s, when field workers from Mexico settled here. Today, a stretch of Middlefield Road is still known as Little Michoacán, but it’s worth venturing off this beaten path to discover even more.
1. The many El Grullense taquerias in this area are reportedly owned by the same family. Head to the original, relatively genteel El Grullense (1280 El Camino Real, near Jefferson Ave.). Start your tour with a spoonful of swaggering red chili salsa topping a taco filled with crunchy tripitas.
2. Regulars order the enchiladas michoacanas and the bony, deep-fried quail at Taqueria el Tulense (2391 Spring St., near Kaynyne St.), where the rice and beans get the same attention as the tiny, handmade tortillas. If it’s Thursday, go for the satiny posole, which features a pork knuckle peeking out of a crimson broth.
3. At La Viga (1772 Broadway St., near Maple St.) chef-owner Manuel Martinez comes with a pedigree that includes Left Bank Brasserie. While some of his Cal-Mex dishes can be too prettified, the caldo de mariscos—a mound of mussels, prawns, and snapper rising out of a lake of orange broth—is the thing to get.
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Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco.