You don't have to wait for the weekend to enjoy deliicous tacos near Denio's Farmer's Market in Roseville, as El Abajeño Tacos is open six days a week - closed Monday - and serves amazing tacos, at a very reasonable price.
As with all restaurant reviews I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: It's a little past the weekend opening time of 9 in the morning, Saturday, May 04, 2019, and I've arrived at El Abajeño Tacos to enjoy a few fine tacos before shopping at nearby Denio's.
The indoor dining room is very tiny, but since much of the year the weather in Roseville is mild, there is a spacious covered patio, for your dining pleasure at the front of the restaurant, facing Atkinson Street.
Photo: The tiny, and I mean very tiny indoor dining room - with two small tables - is dominated by the counter, the kitchen behind it, and the menu. The menu is very limited, as it only offers a few items.
The dining room is so small that it was impossible for me to photograph much of it, even using a wide angle lens.
Photo: When it comes to placing your order, El Abajeño Tacos takes a very different approach. You make your selection from the menu, posted above the kitchen, and turn around to a gentleman who is setting near the soft drink cooler, who you pay, and in return, he'll give you a number. He also answers the phone, as the restaurant does a brisk take-out business, even on a mid-Saturday morning in early May.
Photo; The kitchen is open, so you can watch the friendly staff at work. This fine restaurant has come a long ways since it was a catering truck!
Photo: As I mentioned earlier, the indoor dining room is tiny, so most diners prefer to enjoy their meals outside, on the comfortable, covered patio in front of the entrance. You can enjoy your tacos and watch the activity of Atkinson Street, which can be quite lively on weekends.
Each table is set with an assortment of condiments, which includes a red and a green in-house-made salsa. I sat at the table to the right of the photo.
Photo: One of the friendly kitchen staff smiles, as she shows me a bowl of birria that she's about ready to serve to a customer. Birria is often served as a stew, such as menudo, and in northern Mexico is commonly used as a topping for tacos.
Photo: My order of three "Tacos de Birria" arrived with a smile, but I was a little late to catch all of the action, as my server was very busy.
Photo: I smile, as another diner takes my photo as I'm ready to enjoy three delicious birria tacos. Note the in-house made condiments on the table. I loved my tacos the way they arrived, and I didn't sample any condiments.
Photo: I absolutely LOVE birria, so I ordered three "Tacos de Birria." At $1.85 each, I can afford to order more than one taco!
The tacos start with a single toasted, regular size corn tortilla. Your taco is topped with the meat of your choosing - my choice was birria, which is stewed goat meat - along with diced white onion and fresh cilantro. The tacos are very basic, but they're amazingly delicious! Each taco comes with a small slice of fresh lime, just like in Mexico, so you can squeeze fresh lime juice on your taco to enhance the flavor. Muy sabroso!
Birria has a reputation of being spicy, and it really isn't, as it's just plain flavorful. Like other Mexican restaurants, El Abajeño Tacos makes birria in a large pot, which results in a juicy, tender, flavorful cut of goat meat. In Mexico, birria is served as a stew, a main dish entree, or as a topping for tacos, such as I enjoyed today. The birria I enjoyed on my tacos was flavorful, not at all spicy, juicy, and delicious. If you love birria, you'll love these tacos!
The tacos are delicious, the outdoor dining is comfortable, the staff is friendly, and the price is right. When you're in the mood for delicious tacos, pay a visit to El Abajeño Tacos, located on Atkinson Street, in Roseville.
Back on January 04, 2009, I paid a visit to El Abajeño Tacos, just four months after they moved from a catering truck into their current location.
Photo: El Abajeño Tacos is located on a quiet residential street, near Denio's Auction Yard. I caught them at a slow time, as their parking lot is usually full on Sunday mornings. Note the outdoor dining on the porch. Today is Saturday, January 04, 2009, and it's time for me to enjoy some fine tacos at El Abajeño Tacos, in their four-month old new location.
During my visits to Denio's last year, I noticed that El Abajeño's taco truck was gone, and a restaurant seemed to be rising on the spot, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes. During the construction phase, the taco truck was nowhere to be seen, which was probably a good thing for their nearby competition The construction seemed to proceed very slowly, perhaps due to the poor economy, but the restaurant finally opened in September, 2008.
Photo: The busy counter and kitchen. Note the trays of condiments placed on the counter and the menu above the counter. Quite a change from their taco truck days.
The visit wasn't exactly planned, as I was out on my daily walk, and just happened to be in the vicinity, and the place didn't look crowded, which is unusual, so I said "What the heck, vamos," and I walked inside. I didn't even bring my camera; I used my cell phone to take the photos for this article, which is a first for me.
What a difference from the taco truck days! The restaurant is spotlessly clean, modern and seems to be very efficient. The same family still runs the place, but they seem to have more people working, as they had at least four people in the kitchen, and one girl taking orders, and another girl doing waitress work. Stainless steel trays of condiments are placed on the counter for easy access for the staff; they place condiments on your tacos, as the restaurant isn't self serve. The dining room, if you can call it that is very small, as it only has three tables, but there are plenty of tables outside. In Roseville, outdoor dining is a pleasant alternative to indoor dining, as we enjoy suitable weather about 10 months of the year. Unlike the taco truck days, the restaurant features a printed menu above the counter, and offers take-home menus as well as they do a brisk catering and party business. Not only does the menu feature several varieties of tacos, but burritos, tortas, quesadillas, enchiladas, birria and other Mexican delights are offered. As a departure from their taco truck heritage, El Abajeño Tacos is open 7 days a week. My have times changed!
Photo: The girl to the extreme right of the photo takes your order and your money. Note the refrigerator filled with Mexican soft drinks; the restaurant doesn't sell liquor, beer or wine. A customer just gave the girl a bag of oranges.
I didn't feel very adventuresome, so I ordered two carne asada tacos, with all the trimmings, for only $1.25 each. The price for tacos didn't change from my last visit from two years ago. As I sat at a table waiting for my order, I watched the busy staff greet customers and prepare tacos. Everybody seemed very busy, and this was a slow day for the restaurant, as it's usually packed on Sunday mornings. Nobody really seemed to notice me, so I was able to snap a few photos with the camera in my cell phone.
Photo: Lucy, today's friendly server, smiles for my cell phone camera. I can't resist taking photos of beautiful women when I'm enjoying fine Mexican food.
Lucy brought my plate of tacos to my table, and graciously took my photo upon my request. The tacos were perfectly cooked, and the condiments were fresh and delicious. El Abajeño Tacos prepares delicious tacos.
Photo: Lucy was gracious to snap my photo, as I'm about ready to enjoy a couple of delicious carne asada tacos. Note the outdoor diners outside. The day was good for outdoor dining, as the weather was sunny and the temperature was about 50 degrees. Roseville enjoys fine weather.
Back on Saturday, August 04, 2007, I paid a visit to this fine restaurant when it was a catering truck, until their brick and mortar store opened.
What comes to your mind, when you walk past a catering van that obviously specializes in tacos that's crowded with customers? Do you thumb your nose at it, and sneer, "I wouldn't eat at no darn taco truck?" Do you remark to one of your pals, "Gee, if all those people are waiting in line for their tacos, they must be good, but I'm scared to try their tacos because they're served in a taco truck," or do you turn the other cheek and head to the nearest McBurger place? If you do any of the above, you're missing out of a piece of true dining serendipity, especially if you're visiting Denio's Farmers Market and Swap Meet, on Saturdays and Sundays.
Photo: El Abajeño is a busy place on Saturday mornings, and there is lots of drive-up traffic to the vacant lot where they set up shop. The white Ford truck, parked next to the restaurant, provides logistical support for the operation.
El Abajeño Tacos sets up shop, every Saturday and Sunday, in a vacant lot, across the street from Mariscos Colima, - now closed - at 100 Atkinson Street, in Roseville, California, using a well-used 1970's-era G.M.C. catering truck as their mobile restaurant. You can count on seeing the truck pull into the lot around 0800 on Saturday and Sunday mornings, followed by a white Ford pickup truck, loaded with tables and folding chairs. After the truck is parked and leveled, the range is fired up, the griddle is heated, and the kitchen ramps up for business. Meanwhile, a canopy is erected next to the catering truck, tables and chairs are removed from the Ford, set under the shade of the canopy, and the whole operation springs to life at 0900, which is the scheduled time when the restaurant opens. These guys are set up at the same location every weekend, in fact they're so regular that they have a hand-painted sign erected on Atkinson Street that remains in place all of the time.
Over the years, I've noticed that El Abajeño is a very modest operation, yet they are consistently busy, and always crowded with hungry patrons. Why? What sets them above the competition? Several months ago, I decided to pay them a visit, but each time I attempted to patronize them, it was standing-room only, with a long line at the order/pickup window. But on Saturday, August 4, 2007 I devised a plan, and that was to hit them up as soon as they opened for business, as with most business, that seems to be the path of least resistance. I had asked around, and I learned that they opened for business at 0900, so the plan was to be there at 0900, so I could be first in line to enjoy whatever culinary delights they were offering.
Photo: The guy at the window takes orders, as I wait in line to place my order. This taco truck is very busy!
El Abajeño Tacos is a family operation, run by mom, dad, sister and brother. Mom and dad cook, clean and cut up salsa, and big brother takes orders, takes money and makes change. Sister seems to the be the one to package the orders, as during my visit, it seems that at least half of El Abajeño's business is para llavar, or carry out. Differing from most catering vans, El Abajeño Tacos does not have a printed menu on the side of the truck; when you get to the order window, you ask them what they're serving and you choose from whatever they have to offer at the time you place your order.
By the time I arrived, at about 0915, the place was doing a land-office business, as the tables were packed, and there was a line of about 8 people, waiting their turn at the order window. Well, I reasoned, there must be a reason why there are so many people waiting in line, and why there are so many people waiting for their orders, so I placed myself at the tail end of the line and waited my turn. Actually, the line moved pretty quickly, and I was at the window, ready to place my order after waiting in line for only 10 minutes or so.
Photo: It's 0915 on a Saturday morning, and customers are lined up, waiting to place their order.
El Abajeño doesn't have a menu posted on the side of the truck, but that didn't detour me from asking, in my best Spanish, what types of tacos they were serving. The young man of 20 years or so, I guessed was the brother, told me that they were serving birria, cabeza, trips, chorizo and tacos de lengua. Well, I hadn't had the pleasure to enjoy a taco de birria since my last trip to Tijuana in March, so I ordered two tacos de birria, and when he asked me what I wanted on them, I replied, "con todo." If "all" is available, why not go for it? After paying the small sum of $2.50 for two tacos, I found a recently-vacated seat at one of the tables under the canopy, and awaited my order. Meanwhile, it was time to do some serious people-watching, and take a few mental notes of the operation, in preparation of this article.
During the 15-minute wait for my tacos, I noted many things, and I'll present them to you in a random order, such as my thoughts were at the time. So here goes... This place is busy, very busy. We're talking like 20 people sitting around the tables, either eating their order, or waiting for their "to go" order to be prepared. The staff of the catering truck, all four of them, are working together in a space of around 8 by 14 feet, placing tortillas on the hot griddle, warming pots of meat, cutting vegetables, preparing salsa, in an extremely cramped space, with only the order window and the rear door for ventilation, in a temperature that reached 104.9 degrees today. They serve tacos, and only tacos, with no side dishes, such as beans or rice. During my visit, the meat they were offering was birria, cabeza, tripa, chorizo and lengua, which are meats used for breakfast tacos in Mexico. So my assumption is that El Abajeño Tacos specializes in breakfast tacos. I also noticed that about half their business is for "to go" orders. I was the only customer of obvious Anglo descent; all others were of Latin descent and spoke Spanish, but many of them were dressed in the style of 20-something American youths. Call it a blending of the cultures. Some folks were impressed that I could converse with them in Spanish, but most folks stared at me when I took photos. I got the usual question, of "why are you taking photos?" and I just acted dumb and said that I like to take photos. During the 15-minute wait for my tacos, I had a lot of time to take mental notes, and notice the steady stream of customers coming and going. The dirt lot offers a sort of parking lot, as many customers would drive up in a cloud of dust, park their car, and walk up to the order window and place an order "to go."
When my order was called, I walked up to the window, picked it up, and asked brother a couple of questions. He was very busy, as the operation is very busy, but he told me they're in the same location every weekend, their menu varies, according to what meat is available, and they try to stay open until 5 or 6 in the afternoon, but they frequently close earlier, as their supplies are depleted. These guys are hard-working entrepreneurs, and I admire them for their effort. He was busy, so I didn't want to question him further, but I'd really like to know what they do, Monday through Friday. I grabbed my plate, and headed to the spot that I'd staked out at the nearest table.
Photo: My two tacos de birria, which makes a wonderful breakfast. The tacos were cooked to perfection, and the presentation was authentic Mexican, and the taste was sublime.
If you're not familiar with what a birria taco is, its made of grilled goat meat, that 's grilled, then shredded, and placed in a pot of spicy ingredients, and simmered until the flavors are well-blended; it's a traditional breakfast food in Mexico. To make a taco de birria, you take a small, cd-sized corn tortilla, place it on the griddle for a few seconds, flip it over, and cook it until it just starts for form blisters. Remove it from the griddle, place it on a plate, spoon a couple spoonfuls of birria over it, and pile on your favorite condiments. In the case of El Abajeño Tacos, the condiments included diced onions and cilantro, which didn't seem to my like a huge assortment, since I'd ordered "con todo," but at $1.25 a taco, I had no room to complain. I piled on a bit of runny, red sauce that was placed on the table in an ol' fruit jar, and proceeded to enjoy my delicious tacos de birria.
Photo: El Abajeño is the place to be, if you love delicious tacos, with lots of company. This place is always busy, as I've walked by the restaurant during all hours of the days that they are open, and I've seen their operation in action.
U.S. health codes don't allow small puestos and street vendors that are common in Mexico, so El Abajeño Tacos is as close as it gets to Mexico in Roseville, almost 600 miles north of the international border. Be advised to leave your American customs, attitudes, prejudices, and your English on Atkinson St. when you enter the vacant lot occupied by El Abajeño, as you've suddenly entered Mexico, and you're located in Roseville. For the small price of $1.25 per taco, you get an authentic, south-of-the-border breakfast treat of birria, a stew seldom seen in Roseville, or the greater Sacramento area. The tacos are delicious, authentically Mexican, and at $1.25 each, you can afford to stuff yourself. Factor in the Spanish spoken by the guy sitting next to you, the dusty vacant lot, the heat, the primitive, outdoor dining conditions, and the sound of Mexican music coming from car stereos, the dining experience you'll enjoy at El Abajeño Tacos can't be beat! Highly recommended!
I can't help but to notice that on the corner of Vineyard Rd. and Atkinson St., less than 100 feet from El Abajeño Tacos, there is another taco restaurant, but they produce typical fast-food style, American tacos, and it never ceases to amaze me why anybody would eat there when such a treasure as El Abajeño Tacos is located so close. As my mother used to say, "There is no accounting for taste..."
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