Note: This restaurant has closed. A Mexican restaurant named Ana Rosa's has opened in its place
Several weeks ago, Mike and I were happy to see that a new Mexican restaurant, El Novillo, had opened in the small strip mall at the corner of our block. It wasn't so much that we needed a new taqueria in San Leandro (there are several good ones within walking distance of our home), but that the Salvadoran restaurant that previously occupied the space had been soooo bad. We had tried it only once and the food had been actually inedible. And truth be told, it's nice to have a take-out restaurant you can depend on within a few feet of your home.
So we gave it a try and we weren't terribly impressed. The food was mediocre and very overpriced. Still, I thought it deserved another chance (though Mike disagreed) and the perfect opportunity came up yesterday (October, 2003) when we were both ravenous, there was no food at home and Mike had an appointment in half an hour.
We both got carne asada super burritos (mine without rice and beans; his without guacamole). They were still expensive at $8 each, but much better and larger than we remembered them. The meat was nicely browned and the guacamole was tasty (though not outstanding). On the negative side, my burrito had too much pico de gallo, which cooled down the meat considerably. While I think it's still expensive at $8, it was really a huge burrito. Both Mike and I only ate little more than half of ours (and the leftovers were very good microwaved the next day). I think next time I may order a smaller size (still expensive at $6.75, when you can get the equivalent at other area taquerias for $5 and less).
The tortilla chips that came with the meal were also pretty good. A tad oily, but with a nice taste - I'd say they're my favorite tortilla chips after the ones at Chevy's (which declared bankruptcy in early October 2003).
El Novillo serves a full Mexican menu - like other area taquerias. This includes everything from pollo en mole to fajitas. Prices are, again, a little bit higher than at other restaurants of its caliber, and as we haven't tried other dishes, I cannot comment in their quality.
It's a pretty small restaurant, devoid of any ambience whatsoever. I think it's probably a better place to go for lunch or to get take out from, than to go for dinner (and very few people ever seem to actually eat there). They currently do not serve alcoholic beverages because they don't have a license - they've applied for one but we are fighting it (the restaurant is located across the street from an elementary school and next to a laundromat, so we fear people getting drunk while waiting for their laundry).
In all, we'll probably go to El Novillo again, when we are in a hurry for something to eat.
El Novillo Restaurant
2089 E. 14th Street #C
San Leandro, CA
Open M-Su 7AM-12 AM