West Sacramento: Mexican Mashup

There are many things that West Sacramento is known for: river views, the port…westness. Now you can add one more thing to that list. West Sac is a haven for great, unpretentious Mexican fare. On almost every street corner there is a family run taco shop or burrito barn just waiting to treat you to cross-border delicacies with minimal flair.  Here’s a quick rundown of some joints you can try:

Emma’s Taco House- 1617 Sacramento Ave

There are few things that can rescue a poor meal like a good tortilla.  This is good news for Emma’s, since their meals start out pretty poorly.  

Emma’s greets the new diner with a fairly limp handshake in the form of bland chips and salsa, cafeteria style soup and salad, and a stale, permeating aroma akin to a nursing home funk.  Then, your main course comes (in my case, chile colorado, yours might be different), ridiculously oversized, smelling pungently of powdered oregano and chiles, and served with an innocuous tortilla on the side.  The meat is tender and well simmered in the sauce, the rice and beans are decent, and the tortilla–oh God, that tortilla.  Like giving a penitent man last rights, that tortilla wipes away all past sins and delivers the meal straight to heaven.  It leaves you feeling special, pampered, even, dare I say, exceptional.  That is until you ask the waitress if the tortillas are freshly made and she says tha no, they’re ordered from a distributor in Vallejo, and then you feel like a schmuck for getting so excited.

Food** Service*** Atmosphere*

Taqueria Ay Jalisco 2- 905 Park Blvd, at Jefferson

AY AY AY thought this place was pretty average.  The salsas were not bad, the chips not bad, the enchiladas not bad, the tacos above average, the rice plain and the beans ok.  None of the food reached up and pimp slapped me with its goodness, but nothing really disappointed either.  This is not a place Ay would go out of my way for.  It’s equivalent to Taqueria Guadalajara or any of the other places of that ilk.  Good for the neighborhood, but not worth leaving your neighborhood for.  Ay give it two stars.

Food** Service** Atmosphere*

Salsas Taco- 2901 West Capitol Ave, at the corner of Harbor

Salsas Tacos offers everything that you want a dirty Mexican restaurant to offer– cracked vinyl booths, chips under a heatlamp, and very little actual dirt.  One step up from a dive, Salsas delivers with good meats, insanely good tortillas (same supplier as Emma’s?) and rather slow, ineffectual yet smiling service.  This is not a place you go for atmosphere or white linens, but it is a place you go to for quality grub.

Food*** Service* Atmosphere**

Sal’s Taco- 400 C St

Why do I love this place?  Could it be the mosaics of pop icons all over the walls?  Could it be the rocket hot salsas (maybe a dozen of them) at the salsa bar?  Could it be that I was pretty damn drunk when I ate there?  These are all contributing reasons.  But, the number one reason I love this place is that they actually have a unique recipe for the traditional dish I ordered, chile colorado.  The sauce, instead of being bright red and drowning all the meat, is smoky, brown, and lightly applied–spicy, sweet and unique.  The meat was tender, without being the consistency or pot roast, and well spiced.  I appreciate a unique point of view, and it’s getting harder and harder to find in Mexican restaurants, which is why Sal’s Tacos is my favorite Mexican joint in West Sacramento.  From the crazy mosaics to the stupid hot salsas, from the somewhat odd location to the unique recipes, Sal’s makes for unique dining.

Food**** Service** Atmosphere****

17 thoughts on “West Sacramento: Mexican Mashup”

  1. I must put my two pennies in…

    Salsas come in 1st.

    Sal’s 2nd.

    Emma’s 3rd.

    Jalisco comes in 4th place.

    You and me sac-eats, we’re not so different. Try Salsas one more time and I know you’ll place it in 1st place. If you don’t, I’ve a shock collar for you to help change your mind. Oh, and I have the remote!


  2. Sac-Eats visited Ay Jalisco at my repeated urging, I am sad that they disappointed. I must admit, the last one or two times I visited, it was not as good as my previous weekly visits when I was living in Broderick.
    Also, check out that carniceria on Jefferson across the street from Safeway. Muy autentica.

    (Viva La Brick Shot House!!!!!)


  3. Sure don’t agree on your appraisal of Emma’s. Been going there for years. Sometime even drive all the way from Carmichael to get their great Mexican food!


  4. Bob,
    Thanks for the feedback. Since you’re in Carmichael, have you tried Rey Azteca or El Palmar? You really should. I think both are superior to Emma’s (except for those damn tortillas, which are heavenly).


  5. I think the only people who like Emma’s are the people who have been going there for years. It seems more like a fond-memories place than actual good Mexican food.


  6. Garibaldi is very similar to Guadalajara, but Garibaldi seems to offer a lot more seafood options.


  7. Does anyone know if El Palmar is just as magical since it moved across the street? Did it lose anything by moving from a converted Rax (or Arby’s?) into a converted Jasper’s?


  8. Wow, OK so my ADD is acting up today, and I can’t focus on all these eateries in one comment. I am posing the same question about La Rosa Blanca’s grub post-move to the digs formerly known as Sampan.

    More nummy-ness can be found at Vientos in Town & Country (and on Pocket road), though it’s not as greasy. Try the enchiladas verdes, and use your Entertainment book.


  9. I tried La Victoria at 1035 Drever St and there really isn’t much to say. Yes, the salsa is homemade, but that’s ceased to be the mark of a really good joint. Yes, the neighborhood is less than desirable, but that too doesn’t always indicate greatness. And yes, the floors, walls, and booths are cracked and dirty, but that also no longer holds the weight that it used to
    La Victoria Taqueria just isn’t special. Decent? Sure. Just not worth driving to West Sac for, or walking or teleporting or whatever you do to get from A to B. The fare is decent, standard, moderately priced, but in no way special or above average. In fact, the carnitas (daily special no less) we less than average.


  10. Okay so Caballo Blanco is SOUTH Sac not WEST Sac, but their chili colorado is to die for, as is the Pollo Loco. (Chicken enchilada with green sauce, and a perfectly marinated and grilled chicken breast.


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