My dad tells me that Tacos Uruapan, on the corner of Industrial Parkway and Huntwood Avenue in Hayward, used to be just a little taco stand. For years, it was just one of those vans stationed on the same corner where the restaurant is now, selling tacos and other delicious treats all day long. Apparently they were more than a bit popular.
And I see why. Their food is delicious. I never patronized the place when it was solely a taco stand, and, frankly, taco stands in general turn me off so I may never have gathered the courage. But, according to their website, they finally saved the money to build a full-blown restaurant after almost 20 years working just out of the taco truck. And it appears that the place is flourishing.
Let’s take a run through the place, shall we? First of all, it’s a nice looking establishment, inside and out. It’s new, the facility is modern and even has a bit of architectural imagination, and it’s gloriously clean. Walking in, I noticed that many other customers were perched at the dozen or so tables; a full house is always a good sign. The menu is fast food style – a big poster board over the cooks’ heads listing all available choices in a savvy, eye-pleasing manner. The setup is such that you scrutinize said menu as you approach the counter to order – the layout has a good flow to it.
But let’s go back to the menu for just a moment. It really is a beautifully made item – colorful, clear, descriptive, and well organized. The choices are plentiful and include just about any item you could want – burritos, tortas, quesadillas, tostadas, enchiladas, flautas, seafood, and, of course, tacos. Additionally though, they have a section labeled “Vegetarian”. Not to say that everything else could be overlooked after seeing a veggie section on the menu, but my eyes may have bulged a bit (ah-oooo-ga) at the sight of that beautiful line of text. A veggie friendly Mexican place? Please, take my money.
We ordered with the friendly cashier, obtained our fountain drinks and found a table at which to wait out the three minutes until our order was called. After the cooks were done, we happily dug into our lunches: beef burrito for dad, veggie burrito for boyfriend, and a fish taco with a side of rice and beans for yours truly. After that, everything is a bit of a blur because rainbows began shimmering through the air and tiny unicorns started to gallop across the tabletop. And I don’t mean this to say that they spiked my food; it was just that good.
Without question, that was the best fish taco I’ve ever had. A hearty slab of white fish slathered in delicious spices and a bit of sauce, covered in a modest but appropriate amount of greenery (chopped cabbage, tomatoes) all wrapped in a soft, warm, double corn tortilla. I have not had a taco in Mexico. But I challenge anything to be better than what was placed on the sheet of wax paper in my little red basket this afternoon. It was simple, it was well-executed, it was mouth-wateringly perfect. Dad and boyfriend had similar reviews of their food: excellent. My side of rice and beans could have been crafted in heaven, though it probably would have cost more that $3 had that been the case. The chips were good (and included, as they should be) and the salsa may be the only thing that comes close to a complaint – it was a bit bland.
Oh yeah, the name. Uruapan is the city in Mexico where the owner is from – my dad asked the cashier, and the website confirms. It’s a cute idea – back to the roots and all – but I find the name a bit hard to pronounce out loud. Say it to yourself. We don’t have the “ua” combination in English and it’s a doozy. Fortunately, Spanish is mercifully phonetic. And even more fortunately, it’s commonly accepted for us gringos to mispronounce anything that has origins from absolutely anywhere else. I’ll just shorten it to “Tacos” in my own household now. As in, “meet you at Tacos at 1:30″. You deal with that however suits you best.
But, overall, I (obviously) liked this place. It was tasty but not too expensive ($20 for the three of us!), the service was quick, the workers seemed confident and friendly, the place was clean and well tended. It basically had everything that I could possibly ask for from a order-at-the-counter lunch restaurant. I will, without a doubt, be coming back to Tacos Uruapan.