Head to Concord, CA, about 30 miles east of San Francisco, for incredible tacos. These are the must-visit spots on the Concord Taco Trail—and options for dairy and gluten-free diners.
Every city has an attraction that delineates them from other cities. In many cases, it is murals; in others, it can be a style of architecture. When I visited Concord, California, the defining feature was the Concord Taco Trail. Specifically, for people like me who have dietary restrictions, it is the Naked Taco Trail. Here are the best ways to experience the Concord Taco Trail, even with special dietary needs.
Creating the Concord Taco Trail
Several years ago, Visit Concord decided to identify what makes Concord unique and what it can offer for visitors. It turns out it is tacos. Tacos resonated and became the signature dish of Concord. During the pandemic, the concept took off because the taco theme helped many local restaurants generate business. The trail is home to approximately 40 unique, family-run, and locally owned restaurants and taquerias. Concord has become East Bay's go-to destination for authentic Mexican food.
I think the concept is apropos because it highlights the diversity, ethnicity, and importance of family ties in Concord. Most of the taquerias are family owned. First and second generations work together and unify the family connection.
Taco Venues on the Concord Taco Trail
To become a stop on the Concord Taco Trail, the restaurant or taqueria must meet specific qualifications:
- the restaurant or taqueria’s primary business must be Mexican food.
- its location must be inside the Concord city limits.
- it must be a single location or, in some cases, one of a small number of locations. Small national chains are not allowed.
The Concord Taco Trail is divided into four distinct areas within the city. These districts represent specific locations, including Monument Blvd., Todos Santos, Concords’ Central Plaza, Willow Pass Rd., and Clayton Rd.
For those who love Mexican cuisine, especially tacos, the Concord Taco Trail will wow you. From Al Pastor, Carnitas, and Carne Asada to grilled tilapia, shrimp, vegetarian, and filet mignon, there is something to spark your fancy.
Concord Taco Trail Monument Blvd District
My visit to the Concord Taco Trail took me to the Monument Blvd district, also known as Four Corners. The area is one of the older ones and oozes ethnicity. Within two blocks, you will find seven restaurants. I sampled three family-run restaurants with a significant emphasis on family. Besides a brick-and-mortar restaurant, many have a food truck that serves the Martinez area’s oil refineries and other locations around the East Bay.
I call my encounter with the Concord Taco Trail the Naked Taco Trail because of allergies. I am dairy-free and gluten-free. My tacos lacked cheese and other ingredients but were healthy and delicious. Therefore, I recommend the “naked” version of the Concord Taco Trail for those who like their tacos naked without all the condiments.
Mercado del Sol
Mercado Del Sol is a family-owned restaurant open since 2008. It is known for its fresh corn tortillas made daily, meats, and family trays. I enjoyed a flavorful fish taco. I also sampled the Quesabirria Taco. Birria is a Mexican dish, a traditional ancestral soup or stew from Jalisco, Mexico. Mercado Del Sol creates a consommé with chucks of beef. The taco is dipped in the consommé, adding a distinctive flavor to the taco. Both were excellent and worth returning to the restaurant.
Tortilleria El Molino
Santiago Morales started his enterprise as a tortilla factory producing five types of freshly made tortillas, including classic corn, yellow corn, blue corn, flour, and wheat. The success of the tortillas led the family to open Tortilleria El Molino, a restaurant specializing in fresh produce, vegetables, and meats. With the restaurant's success, the family expanded and opened a market adjacent to the taqueria. The taqueria is a family affair. While visiting, Santiago’s wife was preparing cactus with his daughter. His son Estevan also helps run the restaurant.
Touring the restaurant made it easy to see how the family and neighbors all came together to support this business. Make sure to try the Carnitas Tacos.
Rancheros Taqueria opened in 2006. The Barragan family started with food trucks for nine years before opening the restaurant. Those trucks now go to fixed locations in the East Bay. Today the five Barragan brothers run the business. Every family member takes part in the business. I met Silvia Barragan, who runs the daily function of the taqueria. The goal is to serve authentic Mexican cuisine made from scratch.
We visited on a Tuesday, which at Rancheros Taqueria is Taco Tuesday. Get your fill of Al Pastor tacos, four for $5. You will find yummy mini tacos, adding your choice of extras at their outdoor buffet-style taco bar. Tacos al pastor are created with spit-grilled pork. Al pastor features a flavor palate that uses traditional Mexican marinade, adobada. Adobada in Spanish means marinated. Typically, meats are marinated in chiles, spices, and vinegar. Lebanese immigrants brought this cooking method to Mexico. It is now a popular dish throughout the United States.
I also enjoyed a Taco Grande with Carne Asada. This taco was fresh with healthy ingredients. On a hot day, try the Aquas Frescas, a refreshing drink with fresh fruit, water, lime juice, and sweetener.
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Visiting the Concord Taco Trail
I walked away from my visit to the Concord Taco Trail stuffed and satiated with good food. Besides tacos, the Concord Taco Trail restaurants offer other traditional Mexican dishes, including burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and fajitas. You, too, will enjoy the 40 restaurants that make the Concord community unique. Explore Wander for more to do throughout Northern California. We also have great recommendations for some of our favorite culinary experiences around the world or across the street.™