San Leandro Bites: Porque no? Tacos

This restaurant-within-a-bar is popular in town, but did it impress me?

I’ll admit it. Until a minute ago, I thought the name of this restaurant was “Por qué no? Tacos” or “Why not? Tacos” which made quite a bit of sense to me. Why not have tacos tonight? Really, why not? Alas, after visiting their website I realize it’s actually named “Porque no? Tacos” which translates to “Because no? Tacos”. What exactly does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Not that any of this matters, but my daughter thought the name sounded like one that gringos would give to a Mexican restaurant, and now I have to wonder if that’s indeed the case.

Be that as it may, I wasn’t there to research the ownership of the restaurant but to have some tacos. Or rather, I had intended originally to get some tacos, but after perusing their menu and reading some reviews, I was actually more interested in a couple of other dishes – though I still had to try a taco. My experience was sort of mixed, as you can read below.

Porque no? Tacos is the “grill” part of Frank’s Bar and Grill on Marina Blvd. The restaurant part takes up most of the space. You order at the counter and food is brought to you to the table. The problem with Porque no? Tacos being located in a bar was that the music playing was extremely loud. We could hold a conversation without quite having to shout, but we did have to raise our voices. For old folks like us, that was pretty uncomfortable. If I returned, it would be for take out.

Indeed, Mike reminded me that he had gotten me take out from this restaurant some time before, but I forgot all about it. I do remember, that this place was much hyped a couple of years ago and that I had been very curious to try it. I guess it neither met my expectations or disappointed me enough to register in my memory.

The first thing I got was a grilled steak street taco ($4). This consists of two small corn tortillas filled with chopped steak, chopped onion and chopped cilantro. They have bottles with somewhat spicy green and red sauces that you can put on it. I enjoyed this taco quite a bit. The filling was abundant, and the beef was tasty, particularly after I squeezed the lime on it and added some of the sauce. I did think it needed some sort of crema, however. Maybe a lime crema? Still, I’d have it again.

The All Day PQN? Chilaquiles ($20) had gotten great reviews, particularly when combined with al pastor pork, that I had to order them, despite the fact that I much prefer those with green sauce, and these came with red sauce. I wasn’t thrilled with them when I tasted them. First, I didn’t really like the al pastor pork, which had a sour-bitter though not quite burnt taste, and none of the sweetness I expected. All I can say, the marinade just didn’t do it for me. I also didn’t like all the raw red onions. When included in a bite of chilaquiles, they totally overwhelmed the other flavors. I would have preferred that they had used guacamole instead of fresh avocado. The avocado wasn’t quite fully ripe, so it made it hard to mash without breaking the tortilla chips further – plus the dish needed more acid. And it really needed some sour cream. In all, this dish was not as good as the sum of its parts.

I had the leftovers the next day – with some cream cheese, as I was all out of sour cream – and they actually were better, the flavors had combined by then and developed umami.

I was very intrigued by the Torta Jalisco ($15) consisting of “three day marinated Aguascalientes style pulled pork, tomato, lettuce, onion, avocado, house cheese and jalapeños,” so I ordered it for Mike. It came with fried potato chips. Mike liked it quite a bit – aside from the ingredients he dislikes and took off. He liked the flavor of the pork and the level of spiciness. He’d have it again. I, however, was a of a different mind. To me, the pulled pork had a similar flavor profile to the al pastor pork, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they used the same marinade. It had those bitter undertones. I wouldn’t order it again. The chips were OK, too hard for my taste but the flavor was fine.

Service was cordial and quick. I might go back for tacos and even try a burrito – and might even get the chilaquiles again, but all with steak.

Porque no? Tacos
2014 Marina Blvd
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 984-9711
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1 Comment

  1. Birdie

    Yeah I wasn’t impressed by this place either, we did takeout but disliked even having to wait for it to be ready since it was so noisy. Guadalajara, in the strip mall at E 14th and 143rd, continues to have (in my opinion) the best tacos in San Leandro. Their al pastor is really good, their other meats also. They also have consome which is delicious and beefy and has chickpeas in it, a perfect side dish for a couple of tacos and then chips & salsa.

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