Schooled on Taquerias

Oakland's La Calle does the taco one better

Gloria Dominguez, of Tamarindo fame, would like to remind you that taquerias, as their name intimates, "should only serve tacos."

With that bold sentiment bouncing around her enterprising mind, Dominguez opened the lunch-only La Calle earlier this year in downtown Oakland. It is an asadero–not a taqueria.

As with the term carne asada, an asadero denotes a place where meat is grilled. And across the northern Mexican states of Sonora and Coahuila (where La Calle looks for inspiration), meat is king and grilling is queen.

There are a variety of tacos on La Calle's menu, and myriad fillings, including, of course, carne asada and pollo asado. But most of the tacos are rare specialties that Dominguez encountered at El Leñador in Sonora's capital, Hermosillo.

The stunning lorenza ($3) is a grill-toasted corn tortilla loaded with meat (your choice), chopped onions, cilantro and sharp queso cotija. Karamelos ($4) are a dish Chili's could only dream of inventing: two corn tortillas wrapped half-moon-style around carnitas, melted Monterey Jack and guacamole.

Even better–if that's possible–are La Calle's gorditas ($3, pictured). Every day, flour tortilla pockets are made in the style of Coahuila's ubiquitous snack. You can have them stuffed with whichever filling you'd like, but we recommend one of the stewed daily specials, especially the guajillo-braised pork and nopales.

La Calle, 1000 Broadway Suite 160, Oakland; 510-251-1290