I just don't understand why people from the Bay Area don't STFU about the authenticity of their Mexican food. Mission-style Mexican food isn't even authentic! I'm from California. I grew up eating at taquerias in Tijuana and San Diego. I'm from eight miles from the border.

Fuck y'all; Rancho Bravo is delicious. This "more authentic than thou" Mexican food is everywhere, and it's annoying as shit.
Ugh. The sanctimonious Californians.

I prefer New Mexican Mexican food to all the Baja, SF Mission, Oaxacan, Tex Mex, Gringo-style stuff that I've had up and down the West Coast.

But my favorite is the stuff that I get at the Mexican grocery store up the street... cheap and delicious.

Fuck authentic and fuck style... Is it tasty? Do you like it? Then it's good enough!
Real Mexican food is from San Antonio.

Not Cali.
"Fuck authentic and fuck style... Is it tasty? Do you like it? Then it's good enough!"

Mama's Mexican Kitchen
It's like the hipsterism of "I did that before it was cool"...some people just want to take something everybody else likes and say it's nowhere near as good as stuff they've had in their hometown or whatever. Makes them feel in the loop, more privileged, or just all around cooler. Part of an elite taco eating force.
La Penca Azul, in Alameda on Park Street.
Nuff said
And on the Subject, the Best Gay bar in the East Bay, The White Horse,
The Best Dive Bar Merchant's
Best Fast Food Kasper's or Nations,
Best Toursit Bar Hienhold's First and Last Chance
And While in the East Bay, The Fat Lady, the Heart and Dagger saloon and The Pinball Museum.
On that other side of the bay, Vesuvio, Spec's and the Stinking Rose.
Down San Jose way, The Winchester Mystery House
I'm a non-native Bay Area resident, and I don't get the posturing and authenticity fetishism from the Californians on this either. Yeah, there's lots of good burrito joints here, but they're not _that_ much better than what you'd find anywhere else. I love me some Mexican food, but taqueria cuisine isn't really marked by serious refinement.
Rancho is decent, and I eat there a lot, but there are at least a few places on Rainier that are better for the same price (like El Asadero.) The quality at Rancho is also a bit variable.
Rancho is fine; their tacos are perfectly good. I just have to say that claiming it's the same food quality as the KFC that was there before is hilarious. (They don't serve any barbecue flavor failure bowls, for one thing.)
Clicking on vote options now causes an advertising popup? I guess I won't vote in any more slog polls.

Legally binding AND IN YOUR FACE.
Thank you for confirming suspicions about Rancho. I will now continue living in taco truck paradise South of I-90.
It's all a part of the foodie hipster myth that "genuine" is THE determining factor in ethnic food's quality. It matters, but it's not really what makes food good or bad.
I don't get any of this, people are getting all no true Scotsmen on some fuckin' burritos. Do you like it? Problem solved! People hoping to define authenticity, and what sort of person they think they've been elevated to once they finally do, aren't worth listening to.

There's a distinctly San Francisco sort of taqueria and El Salverdoian diner, and in the 'burbs there's a special kind of grocery taco window, LA has great family-style sit-down Mexican places, and San Diego, I'm told, has people very excited for tacos. These are all things, and should be enjoyed whenever possible.
If we're talking California and Mexican food, then why are we even talking about Norcal?

LA and SD have mexican food that brings you to tears.
People from California have bad taste. You can tell by the fact that they prefer California over most anything.
i don't care what Rancho Bravo is like. (never been there)
but in general it's a lot easier to find seriously amazing Mexican food in California than in Seattle. that's not "hipsterism" or "holier than thou" or whatever. it's just truth. but that doesn't mean that amazing Mexican doesn't exist in Seattle. take La Carta, for example. holy crap that shit's good.
On a recent trip to the Bay Area, I too indulged in the fine quality and variety of Mexican food. I also observed how few good looking women there are.


I don't know, but one thing is unquestionable: Seattle women loveliness > Bay area ugmos.
@15 - I love you.
I'll grant one thing to the California haters in Seattle - the finest sour grapes I've ever experienced anywhere.
There is no one way to cook Mexican food. Just keep repeating that. I feel that people like to shit on Rancho Bravo because it's on Capitol Hill and perceived hipster-types like it. I know people who run it down but would be totally sprung if it were in Greenwood or Ballard. Personally I am not a fan of their burritos but only because they make me feel bloated. But the tortas and nachos are out of sight. Several of my friends love the place too and they got California bonafides up the ass, if anybody gives a shit about that.
What it comes down to is this: I guess our Mexicans are just less Mexican than those in CA. They lose their powers the farther they get from the border you know ;-)
Rancho Bravo is barely passable for Seattle. Just about any taco truck you try around here will be much better.

There's good Mexican food in Seattle and there's decent Mission food in Seattle and Rancho Bravo is neither.

Rancho Bravo Capitol Hill is okay. But if you want authentic Rancho Bravo, you have to go to Rancho Bravo Wallingford.
Yeah, woah. Who goes to the Bay Area as the base of 'authentic' Mexican food or even Mexican-American food or whatever you want to call it (not saying there isn't fantastic mexican and mexican-ish food there)? Ha.

That said, of course, on average, you can find better (and more) Mexican related food options as you get closer to the border. Per Tyler Cowen: "The larger the number of restaurants serving the same ethnic cuisine in a given area, the more likely the food they serve will be good. Why? Restaurants that are competing most directly against each other can’t rest on their laurels. They are also typically appealing to an informed customer base. And finally, they can participate in a well-developed supply chain for key ingredients. In other words, a town that has only a single Indian restaurant probably does not have a very good Indian restaurant. In Houston, looking for clusters of similar restaurants will lead you to Mexican and Vietnamese food; in parts of Michigan, it will lead you to Arabic cuisine. Competition works."…

I miss the tacos of Los Angeles and environs, I can't lie (and I can also attest to the deliciousness found in Texas and New Mexico and Arizona). Seattle just can't compete with the best on this front, which isn't the same thing as there not being any decent options, just that they are much, much fewer and farther between. I'm now stuck in DC where the 'Mexican' food offered, when it is offered, is actually really Salvadoran food (fine, but not at all Mexican), and I *wish* I had Bravas or Guaymas!

Anybody remember what the KFC was like? Corporate Food Outlet of the Living Dead. NOBODY went in there. Whenever I go to Bravo the place is hopping, and if you want to go there some time to tell all the people snacking down on burritos that they're wrong, I invite you to.

What's the quantifier of a successful restaurant, the opinion of a bunch of internet boffins, or the amount of people inside the place?
Burritos, Nachos, and yellow cheese aren't Mexican. Flour tortillas are more a tex-mex thing than Mexican. So for me, burritos have always been American food, just like nachos, and hamburgers. Therefore, yellow cheese, white cheese, hell, put green cheese, it's what we do here in the U.S. Now tacos? yes, and keep that lettuce and cream away, and you're doing fine. (for the record, I live about a mile from Tijuana, and i like yellow cheese on my American burrito).
Nachos were invented by a Mexican. At a restaurant in Mexico. To feed a large amount of people with a minimum amount of on-hand ingredients. There is nothing more Mexican that that.
Mannnnn Fuck the Bay Area.
This is Seattle. Our [INSERT CATEGORY OF FOOD] doesn't even approach the [REPEAT CATEGORY OF FOOD] they have back in [INSERT LOCATION]! Anyone who enjoys any food in this city is quite obviously an uneducated plebeian who has no idea of the ambrosia that literally flows from the concrete of great and hallowed [REPEAT LOCATION]. We are eternally damned to never have good things here.
There is some truly bizarre tangents in this thread, including #17's assertion that Seattle is most famous for its sunny, dry winters.
I'm going to have to agree with the people who say that Rancho Bravo isn't even the best Mexican in the Seattle area, let alone being "as good as the Mission". If you want the goods, go to Burien, and eat at La Estacion, or to Shoreline, at El Sabor, or to La Fondita #2 in White Center, or of course to South Park, at Muy Macho -- but don't order tacos or burritos there, get the damn Oaxacan tamales. Banana-leaf Oaxacan tamales are also the best thing at the El Camion truck at Home Depot (the Ballard one seems to be not as good). Rancho Bravo is decent, nothing special. Maybe their mistake is being in a former KFC; everyone knows that the best Mexican restaurants are in former Taco Bells painted flourescent yellow.

To be honest, the San Francisco Mission burrito heyday is long past; now that the Mission is mostly hipsters and the Mexicans who made it special have been priced out, but more importantly and simply because awareness of the joy of Mexican food has spread, they're not that important anymore; you can get a great Mission-style burrito in friggin' Alaska or North Dakota now. Besides, the best Mexican place in San Francisco isn't on Mission and doesn't serve burritos -- Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. Though I hear that it too has suffered recently.

I think the word "authentic" has to go away. Maybe replaced with just "traditional" or even better "traditional regional". And you're really not allowed to use it for any of the standard dishes that you see even in the greatest lonchera. There's very little resemblance between a taco-truck taco and a Mexico City street-vendor taco -- and of course even the latter depends on which one you go to -- is a traditional Taco Al Pastor served rolled, or flat? El Huequito, which invented them, or El Tizoncito, which invented them? Or...wait a minute, al pastor is from Puebla! You have to go there!

The point being that even a hopelessly inauthentic taco can be a delicious taco. Kogi tacos are all the rage in LA these days, made with Korean BBQ. And I'll admit that both the deep-fried heart-attack "taco" at Jack in the Box and the crunchy "taco" with the iceberg lettuce and tasteless but cold tomato slice on top at Taco Time are pretty damn good, as long as you eat them within fifteen seconds of receiving the bag.

What makes for good food isn't stifling "authenticity" -- it's vibrant, living authenticity, which by definition is creative and mutable, but grounded in a tradition that is lived every day. The people serving you tacos at Rancho Bravo or any truck in Seattle are not peasants -- they are immigrants. The authenticity on offer is not that of recipes immemorial, it is that of the American tradition of trying to gain entry to our society via people's stomachs.

Besides, the most authentic Mexican food of all is Caesar Salad. If you're lucky, someday a Mexican will prepare it for you the old-fashioned way, at tableside, starting by rubbing the anchovy around the bowl.
One time, I was in the Mission and got tacos from Taqueria Guadalajara. They tasted exactly like the tacos from Taqueria Guadalajara, a taco truck at a gas station on 148th in Bellevue. Who knew.
Seriously? All of you like it? What's wrong with you? Just when I thought the city folk were more sophisticated than my roots, I find out that is not always true. Thank you, Stranger!

I walk past RB every day and try very hard not to puke when I smell it.
The Jack in the Box taco is the best awful thing ever.
Rancho Bravo is the kind of place you stumble into after a night of drinking and its SO FUCKING GOOD.
Then you go there in the light of day and realize its not really that great and that they really need to invest in some better chairs. The ex-KFC crackhead atmosphere doesn't do it much good.
The food isn't bad, but it's not worth writing articles over or giving it much attention.
oh yeah and I've ate my way around the mission district before. Id say rancho bravo wouldn't be out of place if it existed in SF instead of here. But it definitely wouldn't be a place that the locals talked about/ flocked too.
The state of Mexican food in Seattle has always been kind of questionable. But you know what? Can't speak about SF Mexican food because when I'm in SF I usually don't look for Mexican cuisine (there are other types that are so uniquely San Franciscan that I choose that route). Here's the real kicker: Mexican food in Los Angeles, once as good as it gets IMHO, has gotten to be largely disappointing. Don't know what's happened. I do know all of my favorite Mexican restaurants here in the 70s are history. Rusty's Hacienda. La Villa Taxco. Ernie's is still around - but different. Wasn't that the food got bad. It was that the owners/operators got old and retired.

You know what else? Whoever could come up with a wonderful Mexican menu in Vancouver would become a zillionaire. Never seen a town so hungry for some authentic stuff and such a dearth of venues for it. There are some really, really, really lousy places there that pose as the real thing. Maybe it's the availability of ingredients? But how can that be in this day and age?

If I were younger (and therefore more fool-hearty and energetic), I would love to bring some good stuff to Van.
And this is why Texans don't like Californians. Now gimme some cheese.
Rancho Bravo is OK in a fix. Its not terrible and its not great. Its decent cheap food.

Though, my favorite Seattle-area taqueria is on the east side (Blasphemy!): Casa D's in Bellevue. Now that's some delicious burritos.
it should just go without saying, everything is better everywhere else than anything here.
..even lutefisk...
@8: So true—I heart Tacos El Asadero SO MUCH—but it and the other places are much further from my mouth. Not saying Rancho Bravo is THE BEST, just close and good, which is what you want from a taqueria, right?

@Fnarf: Last couple times I went to Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, it wasn't anywhere near as good as it used to be. CRY.

@35/36: If you've eaten your way around the taquerias of the Mission District, can't you see the greatness of Rancho Bravo being in an old KFC? Keeps prices low, and lends all the charming lack of charm of some of the Mission greats—like El Farolito by the BART station at 24th...
i am from the bay area. i moved here because i wanted to. the things that bother me are the drivers, and the lack of good mexican food and barbecue (the latter the bay doesn't have much of either). that means there are roughly 1 bazillion reasons left to love it here. and i do. no place is perfect.

btw, la cumbre is best in the mission. this concludes an argument i though i concluded when i left :-)
To paraphrase Yogi Berra: "Nobody goes to Rancho Bravo - it's too crowded!"

Not to say that mere popularity is the final arbiter of taste, but for fuck's sake people, the comparative quality of a TACO isn't like weighing the subtleties of French Bordeaux's. And I'd be willing to wager good money that, in a blind taste test, most of the taco-snobs chiming in here wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a RB taco, one made in the Mission, or one made south of the border, so STFU already.

To reiterate what @4 said: if it makes your mouth & stomach happy after you've shoved it in, then it's a damned fine taco, no matter where it came from.
@34, they taste of shame. But they're fantastic. Even though each one takes four years off your life expectancy. But I dare you to let one sit for an hour and THEN eat it.
@19: Mmmmm, the sweet smell of Californian butthurt in the afternoon.
@41 I'm not saying they need to do an extensive remodel or anything, but it'd be nice if they put the slightest effort into looking like somewhere other than an abandoned fast food restaurant. Maybe put in a salsa bar. If I remember correctly,El Buen Sabor was the name of the place in the mission that I really liked.
Seattle does a lot of things really well (pho, sushi, even some tacos. I won't get snobby about a taco, but I will take COMTE on that wager), burritos isn't one of them. it'd be fantastic if you guys did, but it hasn't happened yet. maybe instead of getting upset when people say burritos in this city suck, you could learn what exactly make ones from California great. it's not exclusive to the Mission District either, LA, San Diego, hell, even my home town in Orange County had awesome burritos. my suspicion: we don't get the spices right.
@44 Wait for an hour? I'm not a monster.
Mexican food evolved to taste best when the weather is hot and dry => Mexican food will rarely taste great in Seattle.
California has Jerry Brown. We have Chris Gregoire. We lose.
I'm from Seattle (a Swedish baby yet) but I'm living in San Diego now. I agree with the commentors above that Mexican food is hugely varied. It's a big country with lots of regional variation. The typical Mexican food you find in restaurants can be very enjoyable; the thing I see though is that the menus are limited. It's uncommon to find a Mexican restaurant anywhere that celebrates the true variety of the foods. So, if you're really interested in trying good Mexican food in Seattle, get Diana Kennedy's books and start cooking!
Is the Live Well Network a free channel everyone gets, or is it a local Bay Area thing? At any rate, that show, Mexico: One Plate at a Time—it's like the The Joy of Painting of Mexican cooking shows not in that it's monotonous, it's just puts me in a weird trance every time I catch it on. Rick Bayless has one of the best jobs in the world.
Thank you, Fnarf, for cluing me/us into the Shoreline Mexican joint. I've long considered La Estacion in Burien to be the place to go for Mexican food, but am moving up north in a month, and was seriously fretting over where I was gonna go for a good torta.
I just want to clarify that I'm not saying Rancho Bravo is bad because it's not "authentic". I'm saying that calling Rancho Bravo "authentic" Mexican food is horribly offensive, because what you're saying is that Mexicans eat trash for dinner.
Seattle, no one can beat your fish ok? You can't get a decent piece of salmon or halibut anywhere in California. Seattle, you kick ass when it comes to clams and oysters.

So let em' have their taco's and Tri-Tip. It's a small consolation prize.

And BTW, everyone knows the best mexican food is in CENTRAL California, yeah, that shit hole called Fresno everyone drives through. Bonus points if you know an actual mexican with a grandma who insists on feeding you as soon as you walk in.
P.S It's not about authenticity, it's about what tastes good. And it just tastes better in California.
Fuck Texas!
Some of the worst Mexican food I ever had was in Mexico (Guadalajara) while some of the best I've had was in Seattle (La Carta). Some in New York has been great and plenty both mediocre and superlative has been in SF. It all comes down to who pays attention to detail. Two people make a pot of beans with the same exact ingredients but one of them is better by far. One of them used technique learned in Puebla and the other in Jalisco. That's the beauty of it and what one refers to when one speaks of the "art" of cooking! Viva La Comida Mexicana!
@27 - nope. Nachos were invented on a US army base to feed some hungry, drunk, officer's wives using kitchen scraps that the cook, Ignacio, was going to throw out anyway.
As a MEXICAN from SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, I cried tears of happiness when I found Rancho Bravo. Their tamales are the exact consistency of the tamales my grandma used to make- creamy, melts on your tongue, not dried out and crusty. It was like finding a bit of home in the passive aggressive capitol of the world. I brought my cousins here-because I'm Mexican, I always have cousins around-and I brought my dad here. They all agree on it's awesomeness as well. Mexican food is like Italian food...the style varies and there is not one superior style. Like a true Mexican though, I prefer my Mom's cooking to anything. STFU about the Bay Area, that's not even real California anyway. If you like it so much, go back, jerks.
@45 Figures; you're apparently already predisposed to burritos that taste like ass.
fuck you all. the best mexican food is in mexico and it's fucking PESCADO Y MARISCOS. seattle mexican food sucks, lubbock, pecos texas, mexican food kicks ass. sorry san antonio and all you fucks in az,nm & ca. livin' in seattle 32 years gone from residing sw. peace putos!
@61 rather hits the nail on the head.

The whole "there's no true [x] in [x]" or "[x] was doing this long before [x]" debate is meaningless.

Food is all about how you experience it.
@60 Horse shit! You got half the story right. They were fed to army wives but the restaurant was across the border from Fort Duncan, IN MEXICO! Nacho was not the cook, he was the maitre'd and making do with what you have is the most Mexican trait of all Mexican cooking.
I like the fried burrito from Dairy Queen.
Southern Arizonan here. Who the hell decided that the epicenter of delicious, authentic Mexican food was San Francisco?
I've had great tacos in many places. But the best burritos are in Tucson and San Diego. Seriously, it's not even close.
I grew up in California eating Mexican food made by Mexican mamas for my mom, who ran a medical clinic for migrant workers. The first time I ever ate a Mission style burrito, I was disgusted and wondered why anyone would want rice inside their burrito. I still feel the same way ... I think the Mexican food in SF is mostly overrated and that Rancho Bravo is as well. My experience is that the best Mexican food in California is around LA and in little towns like Salinas.
If it has rice, someone fucked up.
Flour tortillas, someone fucked up.

That is all.
Funny thread.

Reposting over here: Where, in Seattle, can I get CRISPY carnitas? Danke!
Best headline ever. I tried so hard NOT to comment...

20 years in San Diego then
20 years in Santa Cruz then
6 years on the Olympic Peninsula

I've been such a good transplant, I have. I haven't complained about the weather once (well, not since I was snowed in for 3 days in 2006.) Learned to drive slow and polite. Learned to wait in line while everyone chatted with the cashier. Didn't laugh at my clients who had dial-up internet and didn't know how to use a debit card(!). Learned to pronounce AND spell Puyallup. Memorized the Ferry schedule. Lived with the Hood Canal Bridge closed for 6 fricking weeks. Even learned to live on 30% less income.

Now for the LOVE OF GOD and all things spicy could I get a decent burrito?!?... or taco... I'm a reasonable person.

And a fork should not be required. That is all.

P.S. Yes on the crispy carnitas. Or carne asada, but only if it's really tender. Next can we talk about avocados?
@72 - You're my hero. How long did it take you to stop saying Native American terms with Spanish pronunciation? Because I'm still so tempted ...
Silly me. And as to Bethany's question - I find Rancho Brava in Wallingford a good meal if I'm out that way or El Camion has closed. But I wouldn't say it was equal to Pancho Villa (Mission, San Mateo), Taqueria San Jose (Mission, North Beach, San Jose) or La Michoacána (San Mateo) [which also did Salvadorean food].

That is something I miss here - Michoacán-style Mexican restaurants.
Senor Moose for the crispy Carnitas for those asking.
Tacos Chukis for the best Tacos.

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