A plate of tacos at Tacomania.  Jeff Cianci
A plate of tacos at Tacomania.  (Jeff Cianci)

Bay Area Bites Guide to 6 Favorite Taco Spots South of San Francisco

Bay Area Bites Guide to 6 Favorite Taco Spots South of San Francisco

What is not to love about tacos? We have even given the Mexican street food a celebratory weekday! For just a few dollars you can get inexpensive comfort food that includes a warm corn tortilla topped with perfectly crispy carnitas, chopped onions and fresh cilantro. Between San Francisco and San Jose there are countless taquerias and Mexican restaurants serving up tasty tacos. From a range of divey neighborhood joints to refined Mexican eateries, the options are endless as to where to go when you're looking to enjoy a plate of tacos alongside a cold soda. With a grand spectrum to choose from, here are six of our favorite spots to eat delicious tacos south of San Francisco, even when it’s not Taco Tuesday. If we missed your favorite, please be sure to share it in the comments.

Speedy’s Tacos

A plate of shrimp, al pastor, carne asada and carnitas tacos at Speedy’s Tacos.
A plate of shrimp, al pastor, carne asada and carnitas tacos at Speedy’s Tacos. (Jeff Cianci)

This newly opened Mexican restaurant in Sunnyvale features a bit of contemporary art to spiffy itself up from the run-of-the-mill taqueria, but it is the tacos generously heaped with meat that makes it a popular spot. While a tad more expensive than usual taqueria prices, the tacos here are worth the upsell as they come piled with meat and topped with chopped onions, cilantro and a sweet and spicy salsa verde. The restaurant serves the standard meat selection of carne asada (beef steak), al pastor (grilled pork), pollo (chicken) and carnitas (braised pork), but also offers a very tasty grilled shrimp taco and fish of the day special. For those wanting to kick up the heat, Speedy’s offers a deliciously hot orange sauce perfect for drizzling over the sweet shrimp tacos.

Inside Speedy’s Tacos in Sunnyvale.
Inside Speedy’s Tacos in Sunnyvale. (Jeff Cianci)

Speedy’s Tacos
929 E Duane Ave. [Map]
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Ph: (408) 685-2791
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-9pm; Sun 2-8pm
Facebook: Speedy’s Tacos
Yelp: Speedy's Tacos
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

Ruby’s Taqueria

A plate of vampiro tacos at Ruby’s Taqueria in Sunnyvale.
A plate of vampiro tacos at Ruby’s Taqueria in Sunnyvale. (Jeff Cianci)

This family-run taqueria is a neighborhood favorite for inexpensive authentic Mexican dishes. Ruby's serves a full menu of Mexican dishes including street-cart-style tacos, however, their unique specialty is the vampiro tacos. A tasty spin on standard tacos, vampiro tacos start with tortillas cooked until dry and crispy and are then topped with melted Monterey Jack cheese, meat, guacamole sauce and spicy red salsa. The vampiro tacos are especially tasty with the crispy carnitas or al pastor. The restaurant also has a good selection of salsas with freshly fried tortilla chips, perfect for munching on between tacos.

Outside Ruby’s Taqueria in Sunnyvale.
Outside Ruby’s Taqueria in Sunnyvale. (Jeff Cianci)

Ruby’s Taqueria
821 Borregas Ave. [Map]
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Ph: (408) 744-0622
Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-9pm; Sun 9am-8pm
Facebook: Ruby’s Taqueria
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

Taqueria El Grullense

A plate of street tacos at El Grullense with carne asada, al pastor, chorizo, and carnitas.
A plate of street tacos at El Grullense with carne asada, al pastor, chorizo, and carnitas. (Jeff Cianci)

This local chain along the Peninsula is a go-to for authentic and inexpensive taqueria dishes. As an added plus, many of the locations are open late, optimal for when your late night taco craving hits. This no-frills taqueria serves tasty street-cart-style tacos, complete with toppings of chopped onions, cilantro and fiery salsa verde. The crispy carnitas and carne asada are good choices if you’re looking to stick to your standards, but if you’re looking to be adventurous the taqueria also offers cabeza (beef cheeks), lengua (beef tongue) and tripas (beef intestines). If you’ve never enjoyed how tender beef tongue meat can be, this is your spot to do it.

Outside Taqueria El Grullense in Redwood City.
Outside Taqueria El Grullense in Redwood City. (Jeff Cianci)

Taqueria El Grullense
1280 El Camino Real [Map]
Redwood City, CA 94063
Ph: (650) 368-3737
Hours: Mon-Sun 6-12:15am
Facebook: Taqueria El Grullense
Yelp: Taqueria El Grullense
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

Tacomania

A plate of tacos at Tacomania.
A plate of tacos at Tacomania. (Jeff Cianci)

True to its name, this local chain of Mexican restaurants is all about the tacos. With a number of locations in the South Bay, including several taco trucks, Tacomania is a local favorite for their tasty street-cart-style tacos. Tacomania serves a fairly extensive selection of meats including spicy al pastor and crispy bites of chorizo, as well as brisket and beef cheeks. The popular al pastor tacos strike a perfect balance of spicy bites of roasted pork with the sweetness of fresh chopped pineapple. The juicy and tender brisket is also not to be missed.

The Tacomania truck in San Jose.
The Tacomania truck in San Jose. (Jeff Cianci)

Tacomania
670 Coleman Ave. [Map]
San Jose, CA 95110
Ph: (408) 703-6805
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm
Facebook: Tacomania Inc
Twitter: @TacomaniaInc
Yelp: Tacomania
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

Tacos El Compa Taqueria

Al pastor, carne asada and carnitas tacos at Tacos El Compa Taqueria.
Al pastor, carne asada and carnitas tacos at Tacos El Compa Taqueria. (Jeff Cianci)

This unassuming taqueria located in the suburbs of South San Jose serves excellent tacos with handmade tortillas. The taqueria has a menu of standard Mexican fare but the freshly made corn tortillas, which arrive at your table soft and still warm, make these tacos stand out. All of the meat options are recommended, but the crispy carnitas are especially tasty. The El Jefe taco smothers two tortillas in cheese and cooks them on a flat top grill until the cheese is golden brown and crispy. The taco is then topped with meat, sour cream and chopped cilantro for an over-the-top take on the standard taco.

Inside Tacos El Compa Taqueria
Inside Tacos El Compa Taqueria (Jeff Cianci)

Tacos El Compa Taqueria
1321 Blossom Hill Rd. [Map]
San Jose, CA 95118
Ph: (408) 622-8035
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-8pm
Facebook: Tacos El Compa Taqueria
Yelp: Tacos El Compa Taqueria
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

A plate of fried fish, chicken mole, carnitas and guajillo-braised beef.
A plate of fried fish, chicken mole, carnitas and guajillo-braised beef. (Jeff Cianci)

Tacolicious

What began as a farmers' market taco stand in San Francisco has formed into a local chain of popular restaurants serving California-style tacos and Mexican regional specialties. Slightly more upscale than your average Mexican restaurant, Tacolicious has a number of awesome taco selections including Baja-style fried cod, shredded chicken in a sweet mole sauce and housemade chorizo with potatoes. The signature guajillo-braised beef is juicy and tender with the perfect amount of heat. Tacolicious also serves a menu of specialty cocktails and local beers, which do well to tame any heat lingering on your tongue.

Inside Tacolicious in Palo Alto.
Inside Tacolicious in Palo Alto. (Jeff Cianci)

Tacolicious
632 Emerson St. [Map]
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Ph: (650) 838-0500
Hours: Mon-Wed 11:30am-10pm; Thu 11:30am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11:30am-11:30pm; Sun 11:30am-10pm
Facebook: Tacolicious
Twitter: @tacolicious
Yelp: Tacolicious
Price Range: $$ Entrees ($11-$17)

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