1. El Ojo de Agua #1: El Ojo’s rugged pastor could have its own Facebook fan page, and its monster tortas (from a menu 20 deep) have probably been present at more late-night munchie sessions than SpongeBob and Patrick Star. Ease it all down with a licuado, a milk-enriched fruit smoothie, and prepare to feel satisfied. International Blvd. ad Derby Ave., 510-334-1034
2. El Taco Oaxaco: Split and stuffed with torta fixings, El Taco Oaxaco’s gorditas are like pita sandwiches, only better: puffed, crisp around the edges, and tender inside. Owner Yolanda Cisneros used to serve a tasty Oaxacan chicken mole on Fridays, but says that not enough customers ordered it. Beg her to bring it back. Weekdays, Kennedy St. and DieseL St.; Weekends, Berkeley Flea Market, Ashby Bart parking lot
3. Mariscos Sinaloa #1: Sinaloa’s fleet of seafood trucks is spread across Fruitvale, but the best is still the quilted original, tucked away at the back of a lot on 22nd Avenue. The seared cubes of tilapia in the fish tacos are a tad crisper, the cceviche on the tostadas a bit brighter—not to mention that the tables near the shrine to nuestra señora de Guadalupe are a tranquil spot for lunch. 2138 International Blvd. (at 22nd Ave.), 510-535-1206
4. Pipirin: Located near bustling St. Elizabeth’s Church, this isn’t your typical panel truck—it’s more of a wagon with a canopy, and Guadalajara-style tortas ahogadas are its thing. The barbacoa is fine (ask for a cup of consomé, watery but comforting), though the carnitas are better. 34th Ave. and Farnam St.
5. Tacos los Michoacanos: Come here on Saturday mornings for a bowl of delicious Michoacán-style birria: boneless chunks of goat in a broth that’s thinner, more abundant, and more heavily clove-spiced than birria from Jalisco. Handmade tortillas and a searingly spicy árbol chili salsa come with it. 3524 International Blvd. (at 35th Ave.)
Our Big, Hot (Sometimes Fancy, Sometimes Not) Mexican Moment
The 22 Best Mexican Restaurants in the Bay Area
The Best Mexican Food in Redwood City
Richmond Is the New Fruitvale
Try Today's Four Coolest Mezcal Cocktails
Where to Find the Best Food Trucks Right Now
Classic Mexican Restaurants
The Secret Burrito Cravings of the Bay's Top Chefs
The No Cooking Solution for Your Next Diner Party
Originally published in the February 2014 issue of San Francisco.