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Bites Nearby: Taqueria El Mezcal

Menudo is the weekend special—but get there early, it runs out quick!

So you've got a terrible headache Saturday morning. You may have some crazy home remedy to chase away the pain—a cocktail of two Aleve and pulpy orange juice or maybe a dozen sizzling hot links coated in ketchup—but this taqueria has the penultimate solution: menudo.

Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup and, according to Taqueria El Mezcal's owner Jesus Sepulveda, a staple of every self-respecting Mexican restaurant. 

is located across from San Lorenzo High School and is a definite student favorite. 

By the time I got to the taqueria early Sunday afternoon, the menudo was all out. Don't make my mistake.

If you want your weekend dose, make sure to get to Taqueria El Mezcal between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., Sepulveda said. It's a hot commodity on the weekend, and the menudo always runs out fast.

Even if you miss the hearty soup, or aren't too tempted by its main ingredient (we'll let you look that one up), don't skip out on Taqueria El Mezcal.

They set up a grill on the weekends and make fresh tortillas right outside. You can watch as a kindly woman runs the dough through a press that cuts it into circles before she fries them up.

And any dish you choose off the menu, coupled with a Styrofoam cup of horchata (a rice-based drink) and a stack of fresh tortillas, will brighten your weekend.

Deals of the Week:

On Taco Tuesday, get two tacos for the price of one ($1.73 for a regular taco)

On Saturday and Sunday (between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.), get menudo ($6.25 for chico/$7.25 for grande)

Owner's Favorite Dish: Steak and Shrimp Plate

My Favorite Dish: Super Nachos with Chicken ($5.80) 

Jill Replogle February 24, 2011 at 07:56 PM
New Mexican food, or northern Mexican food, or food from any other part of Mexico—that's what I want. I'm not really into this Cal-Mex stuff either. I grew up in Tucson, AZ and spent most vacations in northern Mexico, and I miss Mexican food from both places sooooo much. I have yet to find an equivalent in the area. But then again, maybe my memories deceive me.
Leah Hall February 24, 2011 at 08:13 PM
We'll have to have you and your boyfriend over at our place next time we bring back cooking ingredients from New Mexico. We have lots of family just outside Albuquerque. Picante in Berkeley off Gilman does a really good job of soothing the soul. The owners (related to Alice Waters, I understand) also tried a brief stint in Alameda. Alas, that enterprise ended and became another so-so sushi place.
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 08:20 PM
My kids are not big on Mexican food beyond Chevy's, so we don't go out for Mexican much, but you may want to give Vallarta a try. I haven't been there in 8 years, but from what I remember their Mexican food was pretty authentic (though my experience with "real" Mexican food is very limited).
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Leah, it's actually Jill's husband. Jill, is your husband coming tonight? We'd love to meet him!
David February 24, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Can we eat what was served here before the Mexican stole the land? Acorn paste?
Leah Hall February 24, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Sounds delicious, if one is a squirrel. If I am correct, Jill collaborated on Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma," so I suggest we "give the floor" to her. :) ...according to wikipedia the native population's diet was a bit more varied: "A rough husbandry of the land was practiced, mainly by annually setting of fires to burn-off the old growth in order to get a better yield of seeds – or so the Ohlone told early explorers in San Mateo County." Their staple diet consisted of crushed acorns, nuts, grass seeds, and berries, although other vegetation, hunted and trapped game, fish and seafood (including mussels and abalone from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean), were also important to their diet. These food sources were abundant in earlier times and maintained by careful work (and spiritual respect), and through some active management of all the natural resources at hand. Animals in their mild climate included the grizzly bear, elk (Cervus elaphus), pronghorn, and deer. The streams held salmon, perch, and stickleback. Birds included plentiful ducks, geese, quail, great horned owls, red-shafted flickers, downy woodpeckers, goldfinches, and yellow-billed magpies. Waterfowl were the most important birds in the people's diet, which were captured with nets and decoys. The Chochenyo traditional narratives refer to ducks as food, and Juan Crespi observed in his journal that geese were stuffed and dried "to use as decoys in hunting others."
Jill Replogle February 24, 2011 at 09:04 PM
No no no. I definitely did not collaborate on Omnivore's Dilemma. I wish! Pollan was just my thesis advisor at the Berkeley journalism school.
David February 24, 2011 at 09:06 PM
There are plenty of geese and ducks at lake merritt. i'm often sorely tempted to return with a baseball bat and clear up the goose population, while at the same time providing me with multiple dinners.
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 09:13 PM
According to my daughter, who is studying the Ohlone in 3rd grade, in addition to acorn paste the Ohlone ate venison, fish and grasshoppers. I'll take the first two and leave the 2nd to you, David. But the Mexicans, of course, never "stole" this land from the native Californian Indians. The Mexicans (aka Aztecs) never made it this far up north. The Spanish did conquer this land and annexed it to the Viceroyalty of New Spain. California became part of Mexico when it gained independence in 1821.
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 09:14 PM
so give us the scoop on him, does he secretly feast on doughnuts?
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 09:15 PM
I meant I'll leave the /3rd/ (grasshoppers) to you, DAvid.
David February 24, 2011 at 09:33 PM
You think Aztec=Mexican?
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 09:54 PM
David, Mexicans are what the people from the Valley of Mexico were/are called. They became rulers of the Aztec empire and we refer to them commonly in English as Aztecs. The country of Mexico was named after Mexico city, the Aztec capital.
24/7 Modern Mom February 24, 2011 at 10:34 PM
Marga - Shame on you! I know you have read some of my previous posts all over patch- I don't attack people and my comments were to anyone. My issue was with the "tone" of messages. It "sounded" like everyone was stating their opinion as fact. Whether food or good or bad is only a matter of opinion, thus the review site(s) you referred to. Certainly I would not be mad or attack someone over the expressed opinion of a tauqeria - one I've never even been to. I was fine with your original response until I read your response to Leah - something about me attacking anyone who has an opinion? Huh? There is a group of people like that - they plaster their posts all over this site, but it's not me! The whole thing is the "tone" I'm talking about - the one that makes it seem (at least to me) that some people are incapable of stating their opinions as opinions - they attempt passing them off as fact, no matter how subjective the topic really is. And Marga, I am not saying that about anyone specifically - I mean in general, there is a group of people. . You think I should contradict some "fact" with another fact?" Regarding whether or not a taqueria is a 1, 2, or 10, is just an opinion. WHy in the world would I start fact gathering to the contrary? What facts could possibly exist? Worse still - you believe that I am so shallow as to think my opinions are worth more than another's?
24/7 Modern Mom February 24, 2011 at 10:41 PM
Forget all the rest. Here is the bottom line. I have a soft spot for EVERYONE that has commented on this thread - but, when I saw what seems to be "typical" tone of lately, I spoke up. You and the other people in this thread have been on the "front-lines" of many community contraversies recently. There is a constant need for everyone to defend their position(s) - true debating. I understand that when there is a debate - but not everything is. That was my point. That was my only point. ALL I KNOW IS - I really WANTED TO GO TONIGHT :-( I wanted to meet and greet everyone in this thread. Sadly, the triplets are struggling with colds and I fear making them worse by taking them out :-( They are all scheduled to have surgery on March 9th so I have to be careful - or the surgery will be cancelled if I can't get them back to healthy in time. I AM WITH YOU ALL IN SPIRIT! HAVE FUN - And have some fun for me, PLEASE! I need a break! Leah, I'm thinking coffee some other day. Game?
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Alicia, you have to trust that we are all adults, that we can all tell the difference between opinions and facts. Sometimes people express their opinion forcefully, but so what?
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Good luck to your babies! How old are they?
Leah Hall February 24, 2011 at 11:07 PM
You name the time and place. :) I hope you and the family feel better soon and the surgery is minor and without incident, Alicia. I'll have a beer at the Englander to/for you tonight, I hope they have Drakes on tap.
Leah Hall February 24, 2011 at 11:12 PM
LOL! Oops. Well maybe I have this right: I know where Michael's kids went to school because a parent "sooo name dropped his name" when I was doing tours of independent schools in Oakland and Berkeley 2005. (Park Day School). David, I walk around Lake Merritt all the time and often wonder about all the protein going to waste there myself. Goodness knows what those geese are eating, though. :)
David February 24, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Marga, the Aztec capital was Tenochtitlan (or however it's spelled). There's a lot more to Mexico's native inhabitants than the Aztecs, in fact, most of the other people in Mexico were enslaved by the Aztec imperialists.
David February 24, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Indeed, the country that severed ties from Spain in 1821 was called the "Empire of Mexico"... those naughty imperialist colonialists.
Marga Lacabe February 24, 2011 at 11:48 PM
David, the capital of the Aztec empire was called /México-Tenochtitlan/ I think we tend to call it Tenochtitlan nowadays to differentiate it from the modern Mexico City. And indeed, there are many, many more peoples within the borders of modern day Mexico than the Aztecs. It's just that until Mexico became a nation, they were not called Mexicans. And even today, many people from further away areas of Mexico do not refer to themselves as "Mexican", but use that term for people from the DF and surroundings. As for Mexico becoming a monarchy for its first two years of independence, I'm not sure what your point is but I don't think we can find that really surprising. We like to highlight the liberal aspect of all the revolutions in the Americas, but I think it's naive to assume that all revolutionary leaders were democrats at heart - just as is the case now with the revolutions in the Middle East. Democracy was a very new concept and one that was pretty much unproven by then. IT was working well in the US, but I can't recall if anywhere else. Still, Mexico became a republic pretty quickly.
Leah Hall February 25, 2011 at 01:08 AM
A further thought about a future community forum and moderation :) From Sojourners Magazine, their "Civility Covenant" Kimberly Knight, an online theologian pointed this out in a webinar I took tonight. She suggests that each community develop their own and cautions that it is better to do this early rather than "after the barn doors have been wide open." http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=action.display&item=100308-civility-covenant
David February 25, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Rather "stole California from Mexico," the great American Republic liberated California from the oppressive yoke of the dictator Santa Anna. :)
The Omordha February 25, 2011 at 03:41 AM
This run on Mexico is a wonderful example of opinions not being all that authoritative. Northern Mexico was never Nahuatl speaking and never conquered by the Aztecs. There is a wide and diverse inidgenous population there as well as very distinctive present day societies which are highly divergent in virtually every area of society. The succession of cultures including the Olmecs and Toltecs were not fully supplanted by the Aztecs. There are still very distinct cultural remnants of very different indigenous peoples in Western Central Mexico to the West Coast as well as in Oaxaca area with the Mixtecs and Zapotecs which are still distinct today and never really absorbed. These peoples have never fully rendered themselves as subject to their conquerors. The Maya in the South were instrumental in supporting the destruction of the Aztecs. Their traditions are easily as distinct as any of the others. The Spanish, the Mexicans, the French, Americans and then again the Mexicans have all sought to control Mexico, but the distinct parts of the indigenous peoples are still evident. The impact of Gringoes, whether left or right or messianic or capitalist have mostly left really ugly scars in a proud nation. New Mexican chilis are among the finest in the world. There is nothing like them anywhere. I have never tasted the same in California. Central
Leah Hall February 25, 2011 at 04:23 AM
Oh David and O, Why oh why did not per chance we meet at the awesome Patch party at the Englander this evening? Maybe you were there and I missed you (as I was escorted out by my daughter, who after an hour's worth of patience, whose good will was apparently worn out?) I hope this finds you both well this fine, rainy evening. All of us so inclined will have to get together for a DIY New Mexico feast one day very soon, no?
David February 25, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Sorry, Leah, I was dealing with business. And as my #1 president said many years ago, "the chief business of the American people is business"
Leah Hall February 25, 2011 at 04:46 AM
I've noticed the pattern, my friend. :)
24/7 Modern Mom February 25, 2011 at 06:06 AM
Leah, did you really have that beer for me? I could have used it! Lol Hope everyone had fun! So sad I couldn't make it :-( And thanks for the laughs all - totally got me cheered up to after a not-so-easy day. We've gone from bites nearby to touring all oceans - love that I contributed to the motivation to travel beyone - hee hee. And did someone say something about opinions not so authoritive? Yep - pretty good :-)
Leah Hall February 25, 2011 at 06:18 AM
Smarty Pants, Yo! Yes, yes, yes (Drakes Amber) !!! I am looking forward to our coffee together, just you and I. This blogging thing definitely gets undo (maybe due?) attention. God bless! Will you friend me on FB? :)

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