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Walnut Creek Magazine

10 Essential Taco Spots, and The Latest on Maria Maria

Sep 28, 2021 11:26AM ● By By Julia Hong


Remember when The Cantina was the local go-to for tacos and margaritas? After it closed in Walnut Creek, music legend Carlos Santana and Dudum Sports & Entertainment opened Maria Maria at the 1470 N. Broadway in 2007. It was hailed as a place where “music meets cuisine” and known for its slow-braised duck tacos and tableside guacamole. 

Now almost fifteen years later, the restaurant group behind Sacramento’s Polanco Cantina, among others, is making a move in Walnut Creek and revamping Maria Maria into The Original El Charro 1947.

While Contra Costa is flooded with good Mexican food, few can claim the loyal following of Lafayette’s El Charro before it closed in January. Since acquiring El Charro's recipes, the 1100 Group has been working on plans to bring the best of all three restaurants back. "We want to reopen with more of a Cantina vibe, and a menu featuring the best of El Charro and Maria Maria, along with new dishes," said Regional Operations Manager Andrew Gordon.  

Don't panic. Gordon promises cult favorites like the butter-garlic-cheese dip, chili rellenos, and enchiladas from El Charro will make the cut. And the legendary 1947 sign will hang over the bar. Maria Maria is expected to close this week, making way for The Original El Charro 1947, hopefully, before the end of the year. Stay tuned.


Taqueria Los Gallos has been dishing up authentic Mexican food from Pleasant Hill for decades. Marinated meats are drizzled with smoky salsas on soft or crispy shells then topped with guacamole and sour cream. Super burritos, fresh pico, and chile rellenos round out the menu. 

Tacos El Patron is the place to get your quesabirria taco fix—braised beef and melted cheese folded into corn tortillas and served with a side of consommé for dipping—but call ahead to order takeout and avoid the long lines. They also serve burritos, enchiladas, ceviche, and refreshing sangria from their Monument Boulevard location. 

Taco Tuesday deals are big at Capullo Cocina, when the $15 house taco plate with four steak, chicken, carnitas and al pastor tacos is 50% off, and house margaritas go for $7. It's also a great spot to eat shrimp tacos on the outdoor Bonanza Street patio pop-up.

If it’s Tuesday, tacos are $1 all day at Dulces Antojitos, a solid spot at The Orchards for carne asada, birria, and al pastor tacos, as well as a nopal tortas. Order online for pickup or delivery.  

Another Pleasant Hill gem, Tortilleria El Molino gets raves for its savory carne asada and crispy carnitas on tortillas made from scratch. Bags of fresh tortillas, still warm from the pan, are ready to take home. 

La Mordida This tiny taqueria touts soft shell carnitas tacos made with tender slow-cooked pork, cilantro, diced onions, and mild salsa verde. For vegetarians, the crispy-shelled potato taco tantalizes; order it with a side of refried beans. They also do huevos and burritos at breakfast. 

Tucked away on a stretch of Mt. Diablo in Olympia Place, is Taqueria Limon 3, a no-frills diner-style taqueria with tasty food. The crispy and soft shell chicken and beef tacos are cheap—$2.39 to $3.99—and garnished with cilantro, onion, and lime. 

Taqueria La Plaza, a new arrival at Walnut Creek’s Palos Verdes Mall, churns out expertly fried mounds of fish and shrimp dressed with lettuce, red onion, and a squirt of cream. $7.50 gets you one of each taco. 

Meats are locally sourced from Mary’s Chicken and Homestead Farms at Pleasant Hill's El Aguila. Plenty of veggie standouts and healthy taco twists also on the menu. Indulgent fillings like potato or poblano are seasoned with signature spices and wrapped in fresh corn tortillas. 

Grilled, stuffed, and tortilla-wrapped tacos are a three-bite delight at Tacos Walnut Creek, a casual family-owned downtown cantina. Chicken, beef, pork, chorizo, or veggie tacos start at $3. 


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