Metro Balderas: Tacos Distrito Federal
Note: This post has nothing to do with wine. If you ever see me drinking wine with tacos, please punch me. I’ll understand.
One of the best ironies about San Jose is that in order to find the best food, you have to be willing to be cheap. This is true of our pho, ramen, ethiopian, and most everything else food. As soon as you feel like you’re paying too much, you probably are, and cost and quality are often inverse.
One of the cheapest and best of all the foods to find in the south bay are tacos, plain and simple, and as a result almost everyone here has their pick for best tacos in town, whether it be one of the multitudinous trucks, the proper stands, or plain ol’ market counters. While many of these are good, and worth hunting down, for my $1.45 there isn’t a single taco joint getting it done like Metro Balderas in downtown San Jose.
The dude on the left is making the magic happen
So what makes Metro Baledera special? Well for starters, it is a hole in the wall attached to a liquor store that will rightly scare away anyone not interested in food as the primary reason for visiting a restaurant, so no obnoxious assholes. And how about the food? Well like any good taco place they have a wide selection of meats and offal they can throw on a tortilla for you, from plain old asada to buche, lengua, cabeza and trippa (never, ever trust a taco place without organ meats on the menu). In addition they have queso fundido con chorizo, sopes and other dishes for the non-taco eater (i hope these people don’t exist), a small beer selection, real honest to god coke, and outside seating. However that is all fairly standard fare, and not at all the reason to go out of your way to come here. The real reason is the al pastor served on the weekends, D.F. (Mexico City) style, which is carved from a vertical spit (this is similiar to Shawarma, Doner Kebab, or gyros) that is setup outside near the sidewalk. Just the smell of this roasting meat from blocks away is enough to send you into a zombie like trance, and it serves as a reminder of why street food is having it’s great rennaissnace right now. If you’re in San Jose and don’t feel like eating in one of our scenic Target Plazas, you owe it to yourself to head to 688 S Almaden Ave and see for yourself. (Go on thursdays or weekends for the real deal).
Wikipedia tells me that this style of taco is the result of Lebanese immigrants bringing over Shawarmas and having them adapted to Mexican tastes. Whoever is responsible, thank you.