El Cachanilla: The Perfect Tacos


I had a Technicolor food moment the other day: Running errands last weekend, on an intensely bright and beautiful Sunday, I pulled over at 21st and Treat to get a little lunch at El Cachanilla, the only taqueria in SF that transports me immediately to Mexico. The tacos are small in true antojito style, and served from a little window where your choices of meat are displayed in scratchy handwriting—in both Spanish and English. I conservatively ordered three carnitas tacos, but the sign says they offer everything from tripe to eye, neither of which have I tested out. I’m relatively hardcore, but not hardcore enough for eye taco.

Carnitas tacos and a Coke: Make your day.

The tacos are $1.50 each—up from $1, when I first discovered El Cachanilla years ago—and they come with nothing but a bit of meat and beans, which you get to top with your choice of three different salsas, fresh cilantro, onions and pickled jalapenos. I never drink Coke, but to truly be transported to Mexico, you need to order a Coke in an old-school glass bottle.

Those boots, the hat, the shades!

I sat down by myself at one of the two tables out on the sidewalk, next to a cactus painted roughly on the wall. The other table was occupied by a regular in a cowboy getup that was made-for-TV perfect. A soft, Latin ballad filtered out of El Cachanilla’s restaurant, which is right next door. There was a breeze. My tacos were absolutely delicious.

It was all just so damn perfect. I mean really, really perfect.

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