Tag Archives: taqueria

Taco Bell Review

Yes, Taco Bell

Kauai enjoying the Baja Blast straw.

I started my Birthday Weekend Extravaganza (TM) last Thursday by getting Taco Bell for dinner. Yes, Taco Bell. No, I’m not kidding and yes, I think it’s worth blogging about it. Defensive much? (I ask myself, of course).

Despite living in California for over 40 years now, I don’t think I’ve had Taco Bell before. It’s not like I’m against fast food, I’ve tried all the burger chains (or almost), but Taco Bell just never appealed to me. I’m not a fan of crunch, and their crunchy tacos always seemed unwieldy. Plus, really, their meat looked nasty (and then there was the whole scandal about whether it was even meat) and their tacos seemed to be mostly lettuce anyway. So I’ve never been tempted to try them.

Until Thursday night. My daughter was home from college, none of us could figure out what we wanted for dinner, and then she suddenly mentioned she wanted to try Taco Bell’s Black Bean Crunchwrap. I had no idea of what that was, but ordering Taco Bell solved the problem of what to get for dinner, so I jumped at the idea – much to my husband’s surprise (“Taco Bell? Really?”).

For my first incursion into Taco Bell cuisine, I ordered a Steak White Hot Ranch Fries Burrito with extra guacamole ($4.4) and a Steak Quesadilla also with extra guacamole ($6.2). Neither were as bad as I feared. For one, by ordering “steak” items, I was able to avoid the dreaded “seasoned beef”, and while the steak was just low quality meat, it wasn’t actually offensive. Indeed, the steak quesadilla tasted like something I would make at home (which, btw, is why I don’t make quesadillas at home, and instead get them from Taquería Los Pericos). It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, it just was. But it wasn’t was a particular great value. At that price, I might as well get one from Los Pericos. The burrito was pretty similar except that it had french fries inside. I had french fries in souvlaky pitas in Greece in the past, so I was intrigued by the idea of french fries in a burrito. Alas, I’d forgotten that I no longer like french fries and I didn’t like them inside a burrito either. Still, it was perfectly acceptable. Both items were too much for a single meal – I didn’t have a good sense of how big they would be -, one will be enough next time.

I also ordered the cinnabon delights (12 for $5), which are cinnamon roll balls filled with glaze cream. They are deadly. Super, super sweet and I’m surprised I didn’t die of a diabetic coma. But they were very tasty and one goes a long away.

My daughter tried the black bean crunchwrap supreme ($4.4). This is supposed to be a crunchy tostada wrapped in a flour tortilla but it lacked the promised crunch. Instead it was soggy and yet it tasted dry and would have benefitted from a sauce. She wouldn’t order it again. She also didn’t like the spicy potato soft taco. This was just potato, cheese and lettuce in a tortilla, with no sauce or anything to bring it together. IT’s just $1, but not worth the calories. Fortunately, she did like her veggie White Hot Ranch Fries Burrito ($3.3), so at least she didn’t go hungry. The Cinnabon twists ($1) were also good, but not as good as the delights.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised that Taco Bell didn’t suck, which is good to know for road trips and if I’m ever hungry and with nothing to eat at 2 AM – which has yet to happen.

Update: my daughter wanted to stop at Taco Bell for a breakfast burrito today so I had her get me a chicken quesadilla ($5.4). As we were in the drive through I didn’t customize it, but I was actually quite satisfied with the results. It had plenty of gooey cheese and it was slightly spicy. It wasn’t particularly big but works for a snack. My daughter got the Sausage Hash Brown Toasted Breakfast Burrito ($2.6) and she was quite happy with it. She’s liked other breakfast burritos before but this one became an instant favorite.

Taco Bell
At 797 Marina Blvd
San Leandro, CA
Dine In M-Su 7 AM - 10 PM
Drive Through Su-Th 7 AM - 3 AM, F-Sa 7 AM - 4 AM

Chipotle Quesadilla Review

Good but Expensive

I’m not the biggest fan of Chipotle – mostly because it’s boring and expensive. I understand why people might seek it in places that don’t have a great taqueria (or taco truck) in every corner, but I fail to understand its appeal in California. Still, my daughter likes it, so we ordered it for lunch a few days ago.

This time I decided to try the quesadilla, which is basically a deconstructed burrito grilled long enough to melt the cheese. It’s served with 3 “sides” which really mean the ingredients you’d otherwise have inside the burrito, things like rice, beans, salsas and sour cream Burrito extras, like guacamole, are still extra for quesadillas.

The steak quesadilla was tasty, but it felt smaller than a burrito (probably just my imagination), and having the salsa/sour cream/guacamole (the latter came in a different container) outside the burrito only made it more difficult to eat. The shape of the quesadilla, and the fact that it’s cut in two diagonally made it even more impractical, the filling kept falling out as I tried to dip it.

At $11.40 (prices vary by location*), it was a pretty poor value – though I’m sure no worse than anything else at Chipotle.

On the plus side, the ingredients were fresh and the beef has less gristle/fat than that at some local taquerias. Also on the plus side, Chipotle is very vegan friendly. Not only do they offer sofritas, a plant based protein, as a vegan alternative to meats, but their rice, beans, tortillas and chips are all vegan. Often times, Mexican restaurants use chicken broth for their rice, or lard for their beans and/or tortillas.

Chipotle – San Leandro
1505 E 14th St.(510) 667-100310:45 AM – 10 PM

* For the sake of looking at how minimum wages impacted on Chipotle’s prices, I used their very helpful website to price a steak quesadilla at different Chipotles. This is what I found:

In Seattle, WA, with the highest minimum wage in the country at $16.69/hr, a Chipotle steak quesadilla is $9.85

In San Francisco, CA with a $16.32/hr minimum wage, it’s $11

In Berkeley, CA with a $16.32/hr minimum wage, it is $10.25.

In Manhattan, NY with a $15/hr minimum wage, it’s $11.15

In my city, San Leandro, CA, with a $15/hr MW, it’s $11.40

In Fresno, CA, with a $14/hr MW, it’s $9.65

In Peoria, IL with an $11/hr MW, it’s $9.65

In Tulsa, OK, with a $7.25/hr MW, it’s $9.55

In Hinesville, GA, with a $7.25/hr MW, it’s $9.65

Taqueria Los Pericos #5 – San Leandro – Review

2013 Update

Over the years we’ve gone to Los Pericos #5 and the original Los Pericos pretty indiscriminately.  Unfortunately, they removed all the nice tables and chairs from #5 and replaced them with the same formica booths that theyhave at the man restaurant. They definitely don’t encourage lingering.  But they still have  a couple of high tables with chairs and the one large booth in the corner.

Personally I prefer to go to this Los Pericos because it’s still a bit nicer/more intimate but also because they have s “small super quesadilla” which is twice the size than the small quesadilla at the regular Los Pericos, but still smaller than the giant one. It’s the perfect size for lunch.

2005 Review

When we first moved to San Leandro, Pedro’s was our taqueria of choice. We liked their burritos, the small surroundings and leather backed chairs by the window. Alas, they got our orders wrong too many times, so we stopped going there and started going to Taqueria Los Pericos instead. Los Pericos offers a special quesadilla, which is just like a burrito but with cheese instead of rice and beans, just how I like them.
Apparently other people preferred Los Pericos too, as Pedro’s has now become Taqueria Los Pericos #5. Their menu is the same than at Los Pericos, including burritos ($2.50 for a bean & cheese to $7.25 for a “shrimp super”), tacos, nachos and quesadillas in addition to Tex-Mex dinner plates ($7-11). The food is all taqueria style, however, don’t come here for regional specialties. Meat selections, however, are wide and they include beef tongue, chitlins and intestines, in addition to more common meats.
As we discovered in our visit to Los Pericos #5, the quality of the food and the service are also like those of its parent restaurant. We ordered a small grilled chicken super quesadilla for Mika ($3.50). This consisted of a tortilla covered with melted cheese, grilled chicken and sour cream (guacamole also available, but Mika doesn’t like it) and topped by another tortilla. The whole thing was very good, but the grilled chicken is particularly tasty and a favorite of mine.
Mike and I both ordered the giant special quesadillas ($5), which are rolled like a large burrito and include melted cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, salsa and the meat of your choice (Mike went for the carne asada and I for the pastor -a saucy BBQ pork). Once again they were both quite good, the carne asada, cut into very small slices, is flavorful and juicy, though it can be fatty at times. The pastor was somewhat spicy, but tamed by the sour cream and guacamole. I’d order it again if I didn’t like the grilled chicken so much. The special quesadillas are large enough that you can easily take half home for later.
Los Pericos is known for its fast and friendly service, this tradition continues at Los Pericos #5. Indeed, we recognized some of the workers from the parent restaurant. As in the other restaurant, you order your food, you are given a number that you then put at your table. The waiter then delivers the food to you. You can find complimentary chips under a heat lamp at the counter, and a tray table offers different kinds of salsas, pico de gallo, beets (don’t ask me why), pickles and lime wedges. The chips are crispy, thick and not too oily, good though a bit tasteless by themselves.
The restaurant itself has not changed much since its Pedro’s days. The Mexican murals are still there, as are the dark wood chairs and tables (the leather back chairs had disappeared years before). There are TVs at two corners and a jukebox, but the music and sound weren’t as loud as in the parent restaurant. In all, it’s a more “elegant” atmosphere than that at the super-casual parent restaurant. It’s also considerably smaller. I think that if I was going to eat there with another adult, I’d chose the #5 location, while I’d go for the main location if I had the kids alone. The space and the video games gives them stuff to do while we eat.
Note that its hours are briefer than the main location.
Taqueria Los Pericos #5
1389 E 14th St.
San Leandro, CA
Daily 8AM – 10 PM