Best Place for "Nose-to-Tail" Eating

Taqueria El

In the world of high-end gastronomy, the past decade has seen a huge resurgence of interest in the art of whole-animal cookery and the notion that every part of an animal ought to be put to delicious use — head, tail, and all of the nasty bits in between. Of course, the "offal" cuts about which American chefs now rhapsodize have long been embraced by food cultures around the world. So it is that this humble, and delightfully named, taqueria in Oakland's Fruitvale district is the best place in town to chow down on cabeza (the meat, skin, and cartilage picked from a slow-cooked cow's head), impossibly tender lengua (beef tongue), creamy sesos (beef brains), and, best of all, long-simmered beef tripe that might make for the most delicious tacos you've ever had. This is unfussy, down-home fare — generous heaps of meat topped with just a light sprinkle of fresh cilantro and onions for garnish. The meat — however odd a cut — is allowed to speak for itself, and damn, does it have a lot to say.

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