Pepe’s Taqueria

Atmosphere: 2/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Possibly

Pepe'sYou may have noticed Pepe’s Taqueria on one of your millions of trips down Mission Boulevard (if you’re a Hayward frequent-driver, that is); it’s on the west side of the street between Harder and Tennyson (across and down a few blocks from Moreau). It’s a smaller place, but it’s got its own parking lot and it’s painted bright yellow so that it blends in a bit less with the flooring stores, consignment furniture lots and appliance outlets.

The interior has a dated, fast-food feel to it; nothing special there for sure. But what did you expect from a taqueria in the bowels of Hayward? I was just excited that there was no bullet-proof glass between me and the cashier. The menu is posted above the counter and offers all the taqueria-style favorites (burritos, tacos and the like) for pretty cheap prices.


Inside Pepe's: the front counter.


Inside Pepe's: The seating (and a yawning man).

A duo of signs at the front door boasts the “best fish tacos” and “best Mexican food”. I beg to differ and suggest they re-think this strategy as I in fact ordered a fish taco. It was ok, but it was a bit dry and is nothing in comparison to Tacos Uruapan. Having said that, however, the wet burritos are something quite special indeed.


Fish taco, rice, beans from Pepe's

Boyfriend ordered an “El Cheapo Burrito” which is essentially a veggie burrito with rice, beans, guac and sour cream. The zinger was that he ordered it “wet” meaning that they slather the burrito in enchilada sauce and cover it in melted cheese. This makes all the difference and their enchilada sauce was absolutely heavenly. I have no idea what was in there that would be so much better than other enchilada sauce, but it was indeed far superior.


Glorious "El Cheapo" wet burrito from Pepe's.

And the El Cheapo held true to it’s name at only $4.50. And it could have fed a horse* so this option was indeed a good value.

The rice, beans, salsa and chips were all pretty good; these are other items I use to gauge the quality of Mexican restaurants. As nothing was terribly amiss and that wet burrito was cheap and delicious, I would have to say that I may return to further investigate the wonders of the wet burrito.


Plus, gotta love robot man inside Pepe's.

*If said horse enjoyed Mexican food, of course.

Pepes on Urbanspoon

Main Street Diner

Atmosphere: 3/5   ♦   Service: 3/5   ♦   Food Quality: 3/5   ♦   Value: 4/5
Times Visited:  One   ♦   Will I Return?:  Probably not.

Main Street DinerOpened earlier this year, the Main Street Diner is located in Hayward on (you guessed it) Main Street between B and C. Main is such an odd street for me in Hayward, mostly because it’s not main at all. I access the freeway via Foothill or traverse the city using Mission, all the while habitually bypassing the tiny street between them: Main Street.

Main is quite quaint, however, (for Hayward, at least) and the Main Street Diner invites me near from the outside. The inside is three rooms: an entry, a main dining room (with free WiFi) and a large-ish offshoot dining room connected by a large, open door frame. The walls are painted with murals depicting European city scapes that are actually pretty cute.

Main Street Diner

The third room inside the Main Street Diner in Hayward.

The menu is diner-esque with full breakfast options (eggs, bacon, potatoes, omelettes, pancakes, waffles, french toast; all served until 11am), burgers, dogs, sandwiches, salads and a massive variety of deep fried items. Full dinner meals include roast turkey, roast chicken, meatloaf, pot roast and steak, among other items. And everything is pretty dang cheap: breakfasts range from $4-$7.50, a burger with fries is $6.50 (add a couple bucks for fancier burgers), and most of the dinners are $13.

One of their signature items is deep fried pickles. They give these to you as a Mexican place would tortilla chips and salsa. Since I love pickles and anything deep fried, I found these to be delicious. And since no one else at the table liked pickles, I got to gobble down more than my share. Odd, but enjoyable.


Deep fried pickles with Ranch dressing...what more can I ask?

The service was nice albeit perhaps a bit amateur. Our waitress was kind and smiley but didn’t appear to quite know everything about the menu or the prices. She did bring my dad a refill on his orange juice though, which was awesome (though I doubt actually included…).


Breakfast #1: The Usual with over-easy, hash browns, bacon, white toast.


Breakfast #2: The Usual with scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, English muffin.

The food was decent; we ordered breakfasts all around. Two “usual” breakfasts (2 eggs, 2 toast, 2 meat (bacon), potatoes) appeared acceptable while my “extra light” breakfast (1 egg, 1 toast, potatoes) somehow came with bacon as well. After passing that along to my fellow bacon-lovers and confirming that we weren’t being charged for it, the rest of my meal was enjoyable. Though it is hard to mess up eggs, toast and hash browns.


My Extra Light Breakfast with over easy, hash browns, sourdough.

Boyfriend ordered the “Huevos Rancheros“, one of their “specials”, which ended up being quite a mistake as they were a bastardized version of what he expected. Made with tortilla chips and doused in either American or, worse, Velveeta cheese (we’re really not sure), it wasn’t the best, though he didn’t complain too much (he’s not a complainer; I’ll never understand it).


Main Street Diner's version of Huevos Rancheros.

I also ordered a mocha which was a huge cup of delicious liquid that tasted mostly like hot chocolate with a tiny tinge of coffee. It was probably the best part of the meal.

The atmosphere was pretty nice, the servers were attentive and the food was ok, but I’d say there is definitely something missing at the Main Street Diner. I’m not sure what it is and perhaps it’s something acquired over time, but it just didn’t really stand out in my mind as a great place to return. I wouldn’t be unhappy if I found myself there again necessarily, I probably just wouldn’t make an effort. And at least the price is right, eh?

Hayward Farmer’s Market!

It’s not a restaurant, but it provides me with food just the same — take a trip over to the Hayward Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9am-1pm! We’ve been hitting up the market for a few weeks now and spend around $30 every time on local and (typically) organic produce for the coming week. It’s super fun and, after reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma, a total must.

It’s always a goal to “eat better” and, for me, attending the farmer’s market every week helps me do this. Here’s why:

  1. It helps me plan what we’re going to eat each week. What to buy? Well, better think of dinner for the coming week and buy what we need.
  2. It helps me eat healthier food because I am committed to actually eating what we buy. When I buy 4 nectarines, 2 zucchinis, and a bag of spinach, I actually eat those things. And they’re good for me.
  3. I can buy organic. Not everything at the farmer’s market is organic so don’t be fooled. But there are a few organic booths that post signs regarding their pesticide-free ways and I feel less chemically treated when I eat my strawberries each morning.
  4. I can buy locally. Most of the produce is trucked in from the central valley or from other corners of California, which doesn’t seem like terribly nearby. But compared to the Argentinian bananas and the Thai fish at Safeway, the carbon footprint is pretty light.


    Booths at the Hayward Farmer's Market

You might imagine that a farmer’s market in the fabulous city of Hayward isn’t the finest around, but I would beg to differ. It’s just one block long, but it’s totally packed with awesome-looking produce and nice folks. There are even a few prepared food tents at the north end of the strip offering Mexican, Indian, Kettle Corn (no drooling, dad), crepes, cakes and a few other things. The live music seems to cycle every week and it’s typically foot-tappingly refreshing.


Peaches at the Hayward Farmer's Market

Our standard shopping list typically includes: Organic nectarines or peaches (until they go out of season soon); a three-pack of organic strawberries; squash or zucchini; spinach or green beans or potatoes or all three; fresh, locally made pasta (made in South SF); the occasional bolani; and sometimes a locally caught cod or sole from Half Moon Bay. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg, there’s a huge amount of other pre-made and fresh foods on offer at the two-dozen or so booths.

High fives all around for fresh produce at the Hayward Farmer’s Market, will I see you there this Saturday?