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Pulled Meat Tacos in the East Bay | FoodNews


Barbacoa is a central feature of the menu at La Guerrera’s Kitchen.

Carne and chicken asada, al pastor, and shrimp tacos are reliable top sellers. But driven in part by the runaway popularity of quesabirria tacos, marinated, slow-cooked pulled meats are giving the standards a run for their money at Mexican restaurants across the East Bay. These traditional preparations, many of which trace their lineage back to central Mexico, can provide a saucier, more succulent taco filling than dry-grilled alternatives.


The barbecue at La Guerrera’s Kitchen simmers in banana leaves for several hours.

Barbacoa, for example, is a focus at La Guerrera’s Kitchen, a mother-daughter project that recently opened in Old Oakland’s Swan’s Market and specializes in recipes from the Mexican state of Guerrero.


Cofounder Reyna Maldonado says the family recipe involves slowly simmering dry chili-rubbed shoulder chuck with banana leaves for three to four hours. The soft, moist meat is served with a splash of the simmering sauce to lend a satisfying tangy-sweet-spicy juiciness to each bite.

“With the stewed meats, between the slow cooking, the ingredients rubbed in, the banana leaves, it all adds a lot of flavor,” she says. “I get really excited about the broth, so with the barbecue tacos we make sure to add some sauce on top. We used to only offer it on the weekends—it takes a long time to cook—but now we have it on the menu all the time. It’s become one of our best sellers.”


Slow-cooked pulled meat tacos are becoming more and more widespread across the East Bay.

five to try

Seek out these succulent taco fillers at these five new(ish) East Bay eateries.


Where: La Guerrera’s Kitchen, Oakland

Region of origin: Warrior

Beef is slowly cooked with a half dozen dry Mexican chilies and banana leaves for hours until tender. The shredded meat is splashed with tangy-sweet chili sauce, and arrives with chopped white onions, cilantro, and piquant green salsa in a homemade corn tortilla.


Where: The Holy Cake, Oakland

Region of origin: Jalisco

Think of it as a juicier version of barbecue; the meat is submerged and cooked in the sauce in which it’s prepared. This food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar near Jack London Square uses it in tortas, noodles, and tacos, including the popular quesabirria In quesabirria, the meat is griddled in a corn tortilla with melted cheese and served with a beef consommé dipping sauce.


Where: Comal Next Door/Bar Comal, Oakland

Region of origin: Central Mexico

This Mexican standard is typically made by slowly cooking pork shoulder with lard until the meat breaks down and then finishing it on high heat to crisp it up. As is typical at Comal, executive chef Matt Gandin uses higher-end Berkshire pork.

lamb barbecue

Where: Post, Concord

Region of origin: oaxaca

Puesto’s Oaxacan spin on barbecue, a rotating entry on its menu, uses bone-in lamb shoulder for a slightly gamier flavor and is served saucy with little gem lettuce, diced mint, and avocado salsa.


Where: Que Onda Tacobar, Brentwood, Pinole, and Walnut Creek

Region of origin: Puebla

A saucier alternative to roast chicken, tinga It consists of shredded chicken that is tossed in a smoky chipotle tomato sauce seasoned with onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf. Que Onda lets you add it, Chipotle-style, to tacos, burritos, bowls, tortas, enchiladas, and more.



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