Taqueria El Balazo (Hopyard) (Pleasanton, CA)
Score: 7 / 10 Reviewed by: Chris
Note: This review covers and is replicated for each of the 4 locations of El Balazo in the Pleasanton-San Ramon area. I've been to all four, and have found essentially zero difference between them.
I used to be a big fan of El Balazo when i worked in Pleasanton. Perhaps my palate has become more refined, because it's not the place i remember. El Balazo has become the most prominent taqueria in the East Bay. People must find them tasty, because all four locations are always busy at lunch time. They have a variety of choices, and decent but not outstanding burritos.
The burritos here are very large, consistent, and completely packed. You've got a choice of 6 meats: pollo asado, carne asada, carnitas, chile verde, carne desabrada (shredded beef in tomato sauce) and my favorite, pollo en mole. If i could rate just on the mole they'd get a full point higher. Their biggest flaw is integration. Cheese, guacamole and sour cream are usually not evenly distributed. Watching one being created makes it obvious: it's an assembly-line process designed to get people through the line asap, and ingredients are haphazardly plopped onto the tortilla. Still, these burritos are tasty enough if you can get through the differing layers.
Your burrito comes with chips. They're thick, deep brown and always taste overcooked. The salsa bar is acceptable. 4 salsas, plus whole jalapenos are available. All of the salsas (except the green) are thin and watery, though the flavor itself isn't bad. The green salsa looks like moss on a pond, but fortunately tastes a bit better. Burritos also come with cabbage salad. It's an interesting addition, but doesn't really add anything. If you get your burrito to go, make sure you ask for the salad as they won't give it by default.
A regular burrito here is a very hefty $6.95. Another $1.10 gets you the super, which adds cheese, guacamole and sour cream. That's $8.05! To be fair, these burritos are quite large and do come with chips and salad, but it's still a very poor deal compared to most taquerias.
El Balazo is a good place for a quick lunch, if you can afford it. But it's better as a sit-down place for dinner with friends.
posted 1/13/2007 1:54 PM, updated on 7/31/2008 7:02 AM