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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

Ever crave a simple street taco in Davis? Here’s where to go.

A three-part criteria for success

Since coming to Davis, I have been on a personal mission to find the best taqueria. The place you frequent every weekend, filled with welcoming mariachi music and brightly colored walls. But more important than the decor, taquerias are home to tacos. These bundles are the most elegant type of food: meat within a warm tortilla, covered with a variety of fresh green to spice up your mouth. They are made to be effortless, an easy solution for a late night dinner. From this mission, I have devised a three-part test to determine the best street style tacos in Davis, creating a comprehensive review to inform your next Mexican-style outing, while also taking into consideration affordability. 

First, the tacos have to be hot. When you get them, they need to be fresh off the grill, a representation of the ease and simplicity that tacos embody. A cold taco may often demonstrate a lack of care, both by the establishment and the server. 

Second: the meat. For the purposes of this study, we will be focusing on the classic chicken taco. If the chicken is flavorful and well-seasoned, this provides a look into the quality of the meat in the rest of the dishes. If the chicken is out of this world, the steak and pork are sure to portray similar elements. The treatment of meat divides the “okay” tacos from the “amazing” ones. To truly be above the rest of the crowd, the meat has to shine in its complexity.

Last is the toppings. Onion and cilantro provide the perfect backdrop to support the intensity of the meat. Iceberg lettuce and chunks of tomato, however, are not as kind, diluting the chicken in order to create the appearance of a loaded taco.

I visited four restaurants: Taqueria Guadalajara, Davis’s Piñata, El Burrito and Tres Hermanas.

Tres Hermanas

Tres Hermanas was not the classic taqueria I thought it would be. There were no $2 tacos on the menu, yet Randall Dobkin, a second-year studying political science and economics, explained his take.

“Tres Hermanas is just a different restaurant,” Dobkin said. “It’s more of a sit down place, and a place to get drinks. You don’t come here at three in the morning to get tacos. The chicken is not the most seasoned, yet it comes out very hot, and the toppings are lettuce and tomato, elements not in the classic street taco.”

The lack of onion and cilantro, as well as the sit down nature of the restaurant, place Tres Hermanas at the bottom of the four options, more of a Saturday lunch with parents than a quick taqueria. 

El Burrito

El Burrito is located conveniently downtown, and embodied the classic taqueria atmosphere. The taco was hot, covered with onion, cilantro and well-seasoned chicken. The only critique I had was the salsa — it was incredibly hot, but easily avoidable with a quick request. Henry Gardener, a second-year political science major, outlined his position. 

“El Burrito is just the most bang for your buck,” Gardener said. “On Taco Tuesdays, when tacos are $1.50, it is just the best deal. There are no crazy long lines, and the pastor tacos are amazing too,” he says.

Davis’s Piñata

Davis’s Piñata was the next stop, and the taco was very hot, covered with onion and cilantro, at $2.00: a classic street taco. 

Dobkin, however, noticed a slight difference between the tacos of El Burrito and of Piñata. 

“Although both solid tacos, El Burrito just has more flavor in its chicken itself,” Dobkin said. “The chicken just has that extra little spice.”

Taqueria Guadalajara

Last up was Taqueria Guadalajara. The tacos here were considered to be better than the three other Mexican restaurants — the onion and cilantro toppings were paired perfectly with flavorful, hot chicken that beat out El Burrito in terms of texture. What really set it apart, however, were the fluffy sand dollar tortillas, which were equally as hot as the chicken inside.

“It just beats out El Burrito,” Dobkin said. “Although El Burrito is my eating out staple, I find Guad’s to be better in terms of meat and tortilla, separated even more from the competition in its true street taco style.”

In second-year cognitive science major Noel Fernandez’s words: “When it comes down to it, Guad’s is home.”

Written by: Athena Aghighi — features@theaggie.org


  1. The Davis Taqueria at 5th & L Street is by far the best. Strange you didn’t visit them, a local family business that makes delicious food and has been around for years.

  2. What’s the difference between a “street taco” and a “taco?” Why is it necessary to qualify tacos with the word street? I’ve only ever known “tacos” like the ones you’ve reviewed (soft corn tortilla) and a crunchy taco (hard shell). I’m just curious because it’s only until recently that I’ve started to hear regular tacos referred to as “street tacos.”

    What about Davis Taqueria? Are they still around?

  3. You left out the best taco in Davis. I won’t share it because they don’t need to be any busier. Keep in mind that this is a secret menu item. It is also not a traditional corn tortilla taco (although, theirs are the best in town.) The “Mexico City Street Taco” is a flour tortilla, choice of meat, green pepper, pineapple and Jack cheese. The filling is all caramelized and melted on the plancha before being centered in two or three tortillas. Each time you fold and lift one of the layered tortillas, you bring a taco’s portion of filling with it. They are muy fantastico. Carnitas and pastor are amazing, but my favorite is the chili verde. Now, all you have to do is visit every place in town and ask if they have em.


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