On a seemingly quiet street in Downtown Oakland, 8th street between Washington and Broadway, a mother-son team, Gloria and Alfonso Dominguez, have figured out how to preserve their Mexican culture through food, and how to save a neighborhood in crisis during the disastrous economic downturn in 2008.
Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana is a lonchería in the heart of Downtown Oakland started by Alfonso Dominguez and his mother Gloria.
Credit: @Kiko454/ Instagram
Serving up traditional foods that head chef Gloria scours all of Mexico for, mother and son bring a unique and delicious flavor to a now vibrant neighborhood that was once falling apart. As she puts it, people used to tell her “The only thing that passes through Oakland is bullets.” Now there’s a bright arts district all around her restaurant. She says this is all thanks to her son, Alfonso.
A family man, entrepreneur, architect, artist, music festival organizer, and chef, Alfonso is the definition of a renaissance man.
As he puts it, after his parents were divorced and his mother gave her previous taqueria over to his dad, he couldn’t stand not seeing her with her own restaurant. Believing in her and putting his skills to work, he invested in his mom and together they opened Tamarindo.
Tamarindo, once just a small restaurant, opened up into a bigger space when the place next door shut down when the financial crisis began.
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Serving up food from recipes that Gloria has collected from her travels all over Mexico and from partnering and working with other chefs, she’s been able to keep alive Mexican fare from ancient recipes to street food.
As an architect and artist, Alfonso brings a flair to his restaurants and bars.
Alfonso brings an aesthetic and understanding of structure, color, and design to everything he does. Sure you can have a taco in an amazing hole-in-the-wall, but why not have hole-in-the-wall level food, in a beautiful restaurant? Well, at Tamarindo, Alfonso made sure that you can.
The real secret of keeping the neighborhood awake and alive when everything was falling apart around them, was Alfonso’s resilience and Popuphood.
Credit: Eva Kolenko/ Vimeo
He helped found Popuphood, an agreement between the city, landlords and business owners to grant new businesses six months of rent-free space to open their doors and get foot traffic back up in the neighborhood. By doing so, Popuphood helped revitalize the whole area. It’s a pretty amazing story.
Outside of Popuphood, Alfonso is helping other entrepreneurs, by franchising his idea “El Taco Bike.”
There might officially be more veganos than vegans in America, but nobody is really keeping track of Latino-American diets. For all the veganos out there looking for their next food-tour vacation, forget Portland. Los Angeles is where all of the best vegan tacos and Mexican food calls home.
Almost every taco truck would be able to accommodate you, and, yes, know whether their frijoles are vegan, because we’re everywhere in L.A. In such a competitive market for hungry vegan Latinos, we’ve generated a list of the top vegan tacos in Los Angeles. If you’re not hungry now, you’re about to be.
1. Cena Vegan
Cena Vegan’s fame is all in their homemade vegan meats. The meats are so good that you can order them in bulk to use at home. At the truck, you can get carne asada, pollo asado, al pastor and a gluten-free carnitas meat option. Then, you add it to tacos, burritos, nacho boats, etc.
This Instagram reviewer puts it bluntly, “literally how are these vegan HOW. @cenavegan you’re magic.”
They’re a winner for obvious reasons.
You can try all four taco meats and get four tacos for $11, without having to worry if the beans are cooked in lard, or if the crema is really vegan. It’s all vegan and so good.
2. Vegatinos Food Truck
They love to serve up their vegan shrimp tacos. The few times we can find vegan shrimp are usually at all-vegan Asian restaurants. Shrimp tacos?! Only in Los Angeles.
At Vegatinos, you can get suadero and chicharron tacos before enjoying some vegan flan. 😭
Quintin L. had some interesting things to say about Vegatinos in his Yelp Review. “I’m so in love with these freaking rockstar tacos… it feels like cheating on someone because everything tastes so good that it feels like you’re doing something naughty.”
3. Plant Food for People
PPFP isn’t making high-protein vegan meats like Cena, but they’re keeping it classic in a different way with signature jackfruit tacos made four different ways. Plus, you can also get their breakfast tacos made with tofu and potato scramble if you get there early enough.
4. Hijo De Su Madre
From left to right, we have a beer-battered avocado, chipotle crema, and pepita slaw; soyrizo, potato hash, and guac; Beyond Meat cabbage, avocado, secret sauce. That’s not even all their options because Hijo is all-vegan.
5. Dear Mama LA
You definitely want to check out this Latina-owned taco spot when you are in LA. Her caption reads, “This hood inspired traditional flavor is just what summer needed. Our citrus marinated chick’n or Hood Chick’n will have you reminiscing on the days you were a kid and you had carne asadas with the family. This hood staple of yellow looking chicken was what most kids enjoyed! So I’m bringing it back to you with a whole lot of love. We marinate it to perfection with oranges and bell peppers and of course love 🥰🙆♀️🔥”
6. Trejo’s Tacos Fried Avocado Tacos
Danny Trejo has outdone himself with a chain of authentic Mexican tacos all around Los Angeles. Danny knows his clients well by offering the only version of an avocado toast we want to have for breakfast: Fried Avocado Tacos.
You should also check out their Cauliflower Chorizo Tacos.
Listen, his taco game is on point. Trejo’s alway has at least three vegan options on the menu. As of June 2019, he has Young Jackfruit with avocado crema, Mushroom Asada with pepita pesto, and Cauliflower with cashew cream.
7. Doomies Home Cookin’ and Doomies NextMex
Doomies is best known for replicating America’s favorite meat dishes (like fried chicken, and Big Macs) but vegan. The reviews are in and Next Mex is where it’s at.
8. Gracias Madre
This restaurant is reserved for those special nights out. It’s LA prices, but it’s outrageously delicious. You can expect to enjoy all your vegan favorites from sopes to pozole, flautas and tamales. Their jackfruit carnitas tacos are rico. top it off with flan or pineapple upside down cake and you’ll be happy as a vegan clam.
9. Olga’s Naturally
All their taco tortillas are handmade using organic blue maiz from Oaxaca. They always strive to source organic and also offer vegan chicken as a protein option, alongside vegan cheese quesadillas. Yup.
10. Sage Vegan Bistro
It isn’t a taco joint but they do have great tacos. Plus, they know to call them street tacos. These are “made w/ marinated jackfruit, garlic aioli, cilantro and onions on an organic corn tortilla are served all day on weekdays and after brunch on the weekends! 🌮”
11. Organix LA
They take Taco Tuesday very seriously with $2 vegan tacos and 20 percent off all vegan burritos. All their food is vegan, and you can enjoy anything from deep-fried vegan fish filet tacos to classic carne asada style grilled mushroom tacos like the ones you see above.
12. Chica’s Tacos
Chica’s vegan tacos are made with spicy cauliflower chorizo and topped with a slice of marinated mushroom, avocado, and cilantro. You know they’re good because Chica’s stands by using only organic, never frozen ingredients to represent an authentic Méxican dish.
13. Un Solo Sol
They essentially offer a vegan version of almost everything on their menu ranging from nopalitos tacos to pinto bean pupusas. You know when you order veggie tacos at a non-vegan taquería and it’s just onions and pico de gallo? These guys load up their veggie tacos with actual veggies ricos.
14. Tacos La Tehuanita
Follow @tacoslatehuanita to get all the updates on where they’re parked tonight. “Yum! Come one, come all, come with hearty appetites,” are the types of rallying calls you can expect from them. You want to try the butternut squash tacos.
15. Taco Zone Truck
Yelp reviewer Helen J. Puts it best. “VEGAN AND VEGETARIANS WELCOME HERE. The tacos are cheap but full of flavor. We came down here after the Griffith Observatory and these tacos hit the spot! Great food truck, friendly service, and fast at that.”
16. El Chato Taco Truck
Folks rave about how you can feast and still have a pile of money leftover at El Chatos. While reviewers aren’t posting pictures of the vegan option, there are a dozen reviews about how delicious the veggie tacos are. It can never hurt to check it out.
Above are the two vegetarian options listed on the menu. We bet you could ask for it sin cotija, but the off-menu vegan accommodation is reportedly spicy. One Yelp reviewer said, “My friend who is vegan, was able to be accommodated at this place as well! He ended up getting the chiles correados taco. BEWARE!! It is extremely spicy ! But he really loved it !”
Mexico has been a foodie destination for years now. From next level puestos serving up some of the world’s best street food to little fonditas with full lunch specials for the equivalent of a few dollars to some of the world’s fanciest fine dining – Mexico City has it all.
And for several years now, the city has been home to a few of the world’s best 50 restaurants. And 2019 is no different.
World’s 50 Best Restaurants awarded Mexico City’s Pujol its number 12 spot in the world.
The Mexican restaurant Pujol, by chef Enrique Olvera, is the best in North America, according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Pujol, located in Mexico City’s Polanco neighborhood, is ranked 12th worldwide thanks to “a menu of refined and elegant dishes built with Indigenous ingredients that pay tribute to the rich culinary history of Mexico.”
In 2018, Pujol had lost the title of top Mexican restaurant to Quintonil, another Mexico City establishment that is run by chef Jorge Vallejo.
And Mexico City’s Quintonil came in at #24.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants named another Mexican restaurant: Quintonil, founded in 2012.
Also located in Polanco, Quintonil is a gastronomic project directed by Alejandra Flores and Jorge Vallejo, whose purpose is to express the flavors and ingredients of the Mexican territory in their menu.
Since 2015, Quintonil has been recognized by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, this time coming in at position 24.
But this wasn’t the only news that excited Twitter.
Yup, the best restaurant in North America is in Mexico City and the best restaurant in the US is a Mexican restaurant. #VivaMexico
New York City’s Cosme, which is also owned by Daniella Soto-Innes, made it to number 23 in the Top 50 list. In April, she was named the world’s best female chef, the youngest chef to win that distinction, at just 28.
People from across Mexico and the US took to Twitter to congratulate the chefs!
Many were so excited to see the celebrated Mexican chef reclaim the top spot not only in Mexico but in the entire continent.
Others were excited to see Mexican cuisine leading the charge for fine dining.
It’s about time that Mexican cuisine, especially restaurants that incorporate Indigenous ingredients, techniques, and flavors, get the recognition it deserves.
And even though Pujol has a reputation for being a bit pricey, people were totally here for it.
Translation: Extraordinary place. Worth every peso invested in a good meal.
So obviously, if you’re a foodie, Mexico City needs to be on your bucket list.
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