East Bay Unwrapped: Flacos Tacos
¡Holy frijoles! ¡Ay chihuahua! ¡Good God of guacamole! ¡Uh, cool! Flacos Tacos in South Berkeley made me wanna shout all of those things when I learned about their tasty, home made dishes and amazing specials.
Flacos occupies the little stone hut that was once home to Ital Calabash, the Jamaican-vegan spirit shack. Remember that place? Me neither, but if you’d like a refresher, check out Chloe’s post about it here (RIP Ital). Although some of you might be sad to see it go, I think you’ll find Flacos to be a worthy replacement. First and foremost, it’s still 100% vegan (and GMO-free). How very Berkeley of them! On top of that, the service is much faster and a bit friendlier. They also spruced up the mini indoor dining area to include newly upholstered chairs and Dia de los Muertos decor. But enough of the comparisons. Here are some more important reasons to check it out:
1. The Food: Don’t let the name fool you; Flacos serves much more than just tacos. Judging by the customers who ordered them in bulk as well as numerous, glowing Yelp reviews, the signature item at Flacos is the taquito. Okay, I think I know what you’re thinking, but these taquitos bear no resemblance to those shriveled grease logs you eye in 7-Eleven at 2am when you’re drunk. I watched Flacos owner, Antonio, tuck a huge chunk of seitan into a tortilla, roll it up, and drop it into the deep fryer. What emerged was a crispy, sizzling heaven stick. And it was delicious. The crunch factor was unreal (I swear it was the crunch heard ’round the world), and the avocado salsa was the perfect condiment. I also ordered the pozole, which was chock-full o’hominy. Those of you with a refined (read: sensitive) palate might find the soup to be MUY spicy. In fact, most of the food packs a bit of a punch, so keep your horchata handy.
2. The Deals: Flacos offers a special for almost every occasion. Oh, it’s your birthday? Well feliz cumpleaños, because your meal will be FREE if you present a valid ID at the register. And if your birthday happens to fall on a Tuesday, then you’ve hit the piñata my friend. Tuesdays are known as “Taquito Tuesdays,” and each taquito only costs $1! Holy crap! Come back the following night for “Huarache Wednesday,” which isn’t alliterative. All huaraches are $7, and no, they’re not selling sandals. That would be weird. “Soft Taco Thursday” offers tacos for $2 each and $1 off taco plates. But what’s in store for the rest of the week? Just cheap eats. My meal cost $7, not including the tip. On my way out, Antonio handed me a “Frequent Flacos Card,” which entitles me to a FREE meal after purchasing ten plates at full price. They’re practically giving the stuff away!
3. The Sense of Community: As soon as I walked through the back door, I was warmly received by a mild-mannered man. “Is this your first time with us? Are you vegan? Do you have any questions about the menu?” Yes. No. How many taquitos can I fit in my mouth at the same time? As I waited for my order, I began to notice a pattern: every other customer that entered seemed be acquainted with the man behind the counter. They asked him how the business was going and if he was working alone that night (not a pick-up line; his sous chef was nowhere in sight). It seemed that in the short time that Flacos has been there, Antonio has formed a relationship with the South Berkeley neighborhood. This is a very cool and important thing. Furthermore, Flacos shows much respect for Berkeley and Mother Earth by using biodegradable to-go cups, bags, and cutlery.
Well, that’s it. Although I have only three reasons, they’re reason enough to pay a visit to Flacos Tacos. ¡Buen provecho!
Flacos Tacos [South Berkeley; Ashby BART stop]
3031 Adeline St.