Fourth Street in Berkeley is such a great place to take the kids for walking around, shopping, and grabbing a bite to eat. It’s easy and free to park, and there are tons of cute shops and several restaurants. As with almost every restaurant in Berkeley, the food is amazing!
Our stand-by and favorite place to eat is Tacubaya. This taqueria is the sister restaurant to the famous Doña Tomas in Oakland, but much easier and more enjoyable to bring the kids. Don’t let the order-at-the-counter set up fool you: this is Michelin rated, traditional, authentic, and deeeeeelicious Mexican fare. It’s also super casual, so come as you are.
The menu is pretty big and it’s recommended you order at least two items per person. It’s nice actually so you can sample several different options, especially if you bring the whole crew and can share family-style. Vegetarian and vegan options are identified by a V or a *, and many items can be made vegetarian if you request it.
We always start with a few glasses of horchata – a delicious drink made of rice milk, almond milk, cinnamon and sugar. The boys gulp it down, and Brian likes it to cool down the ridiculous amount of hot sauce he slathers on everything. We typically order a few different tacos (beef, chicken, and vegetarian), a couple tostadas, a side of camote (blended sweet potatoes with cinnamon), some chips and salsa, and finish it off with an order of warm and sugary churros. I actually made a grand declaration a few years ago that I would “never pass up a churro” – and that has served me well in general, but especially here at Tacubaya.
After you order, grab a table and the food is delivered to you quickly. We usually sit inside, but if the weather is nice, there is a big patio with tables right outside. The restaurant is situated right on the Amtrak line, so the kids will love watching a train go by every few minutes.
The food is hands down the best Mexican food we’ve had since we moved to the Bay Area, and the casual environment is great for an easy lunch or dinner any day of the week. The price is right, too. Most items are between $3 and $5, including drinks. Dinner for the four of us (including a Negro Modelo for Brian) is about $60.
Here are a few tips:
1) Ask for a high chair if you need one. They store them in the back and are happy to bring one out to you.
2) Order a variety of dishes and share them. There are no “filler sides” of rice and beans unless you order them, so be sure you get enough food for everyone. It’s incredibly delicious and you’ll find you are suddenly hungrier than you realized.
3) Opt for the specials. We have never been disappointed by the special tacos or tostadas. In fact, I’m kind of dreaming about the plantain, yam, and black bean tostada I had last night. Yuuuuuummmmmm.