For many people, taquerias exist as fast-food establishments to satisfy some late-night Mexican food cravings. It comes as no surprise then that in a small college town such as Davis, you can find many taquerias gracing us with their relatively inexpensive, greasy, and satiating presence. This raises the question–how do you know which taqueria is right for you?
According to the online dictionary of Merriam-Webster, a “taquería” is defined as a Mexican restaurant that specializes in making tacos. As a tribute to the origin of the word, I’ve compiled a list of the taquerias in Davis and reviewed them based on their traditional pollo soft tacos.
Here we go.
1. Taqueria La Piñata
La Piñata opened its doors to the city of Davis in Fall 2015, bringing with them the flavors of Guadalajara, Mexico. I took to the Regular Soft Taco ($2.10) with Desebrado (shredded boiled chicken), which came on two corn tortillas with cilantro, onion, and salsa.
The salsa itself was thin, yet gave the perfect amount of spice that lingered in a pleasant and non-overpowering way. It coated the tortillas without making them soggy, and also provided flavor to the chicken. Overall, each bite had a satisfying amount of chicken-to-minced cilantro-and-onion ratio.
2. Taqueria El Burrito
El Burrito has been a long-standing favorite, located smack in the middle of Downtown Davis. Here, I tried their Soft Taco ($2.20 cash) with Pollo Asado (marinated chicken). It had all the same toppings as La Piñata, but different methods of execution. Its flavors stemmed from both Guadalajara and Corvallis, where the owners originated.
The chicken was tender, and soaked the tortilla in its juices. It was complimented by thick salsa that packed a lot of heat. Despite the mouth-numbing burning sensation, there was also a prominent raw onion flavor to the taco.
Not afraid of a little kick to your taco? Then El Burrito is a taqueria contender for you.
3. Taqueria Davis
Located at the edge of downtown Davis, Taqueria Davis (TD) has seen its fair share of customers, having received many consumers choice awards a few years back. I had a Soft Taco ($2.05) with Desebrado (listed as Pollo). Its flavor is influenced by Mexico City, Mexico.
The thickness of the salsa was comparable to El Burrito’s, but had visible chili pepper seeds. This fact led me to believe that the taco would also rival its competitor in spiciness. However, while the taco was spicy at first bite, it settled over time. Comparing TD to La Piñata, their shredded chicken was juicier and complimented the corn tortilla.
Topped with chunky diced onion and roughly chopped cilantro, these additions helped round out the taco in flavor.
4. Chuy’s Taqueria
You can find Chuy’s tucked in the corner of the small Westlake Plaza in West Davis. Compared to the taquerias discussed thus-far, Chuy’s offers a limited menu of items. I ordered the Regular Taco ($1.50 cash) with Desebrado (listed as Pollo), inspired by flavors from Jalisco, Mexico. Their tacos came with added lime wedge and slices of radish.
Like the last two places, Chuy’s salsa was thick, though more gelatin-like in appearance. But don’t be fooled by its look. Upon first bite, the taco was pretty lackluster in flavor. Average distribution of raw onion, moist chicken without any outstanding flavors, minimal corn taste from the tortilla.
A few bites later, the heat kicks in and your palate is dominated by spiciness similar in intensity to El Burrito’s taco, only delayed. So, if you like surprises, give Chuy’s a try.
5. Taqueria Guadalajara
With two locations in Davis–North and South–Guadalajara, or Guad’s for short, is known by many college students as a place that rarely disappoints. This establishment gets its flavors from–where else?–Guadalajara, Mexico. At the North Davis location on West Covell, I had the Soft Taco ($1.59) with Pollo Asado.
Of all the taquerias in Davis, it was the only one to not have salsa come directly on the taco. Customers are free to put their own salsas on if they so choose at the salsa and chip bar.
Another distinctive feature with Guad’s tacos is that they are smothered in minced onions and cilantro; yet their flavors were not overwhelming. Despite the lack of salsa, the taco was moist from the lightly-charred chicken’s juices, though not enough in my opinion. However, I would not let this deter you from giving their tacos a try. In the taco game, Guad’s still satisfies.
With all these options in mind, where will you go for your perfect taco?