North of the border


Daniel Kong

La Texicana on Sebastopol Road. This restaurant has appeared on the Food Network for its excellent Mexican cuisine.

Devin Schwarz, Staff Writer

The good, the bad and the Americanized: Santa Rosa has all manner of taquerias.

The question is: where is the best? I have been enjoying and replicating Mexican cuisine for years and I have scoured the city, tried many a burrito and compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the best Mexican food in town.

Taqueria Las Palmas, found on Santa Rosa Avenue just outside downtown, is a diamond in the rough located in south Santa Rosa.

This fantastic taqueria has an extensive menu of the classic dishes seen at most taquerias. With colorful tile work on the tables and bright paint on the walls, the place has the energetic feel of rural Mexico. The food at Las Palmas is not my favorite but is well portioned and satisfying. Definitely a great place to visit if you’re in the neighborhood.

El Patio is one of Santa Rosa’s best-kept secrets, tucked away in the Stony Point Oliver’s Market shopping center with a second location on Fourth Street downtown. El Patio is friendly to those who are new to Mexican cuisine and culture, with menu descriptions of each item and a staff that speaks perfect English. With a rather large menu and colorful selection of unique burritos, El Patio has modernized classic Mexican food without losing any of the legitimacy. The only complaints I have about this establishment are the prices are a bit high for taqueria-style cuisine and the dine-in environment is a bit cramped and loud due to their open kitchen; it’s definitely a take-out sort of place.

Roseland is a CDP or Census Designated Place that is 53 percent Hispanic, according to the 2010 census. This high concentration of Hispanic citizens reflects the amount of taquerias and other Latin restaurants in the area making it the focus point of my search.

La Texanita near Stony Point on Sebastopol Road is well known for its appearance on the Food Network television show “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” – and for good reason. The colorful sit-down dining area and full-service style of the restaurant is a welcome change to the common taco truck. The servers were polite, attentive and did their utmost to keep me happy. The menu itself was limited, and mostly in Spanish, which made it hard to read, but credible. I finally deciphered what I wanted; a carne asada huarache, essentially a Mexican pancake prepared with a masa base, topped with various salsas vegetables and meat. It was fabulously prepared; the plating itself made it seem like a much more expensive meal then it was. The ingredients tasted and looked fresh and nothing on the plate was smothered with cheese or hidden under thick sauce, which tricked me into almost thinking I was eating healthy. La Texanita is a wonderful place with amazing food, a definite must for anyone who enjoys bonafide Mexican cuisine.

With many options for Mexican food in Roseland, it was difficult to choose which to visit in the short time I had. In the end I chose La Fondita as my final taqueria, and what a good choice it was. At first I had my apprehensions because the seating was outdoors and I ordered from a taco truck – I am always wary of food served out of an automobile – but it blew away my expectations. The super burrito was affordable, only $7, and the carnitas was cooked to perfection. The salsa was spicy and fresh, which enhanced the burrito even further. The outdoor seating is nice on a fair-weathered day but had the aesthetic of someone’s backyard, which can be appealing to some but seemed a bit strange to me. Nothing about La Fondita is Americanized; from the décor to the food, this place is about as original as they come.