Gordo’s has its fans—I’m just not one of them

1423 Solano Ave., Albany, CA

Bring up favorite burrito places in the Bay Area, and you’re sure to get strong opinions. Many are quick to name Gordo’s, as is evident by the long lines there almost any day, sometimes stretching out the door and around the corner. Kylie’s friend Rachel loves Gordo’s, and I’ve heard of people driving in from El Cerrito just to get takeout from there.

The original plan was to visit Kathmandu Restaurant, but it was inexplicably closed again, so we went to the other side of Solano Avenue to Gordo Taqueria and joined the throng of families, business people, and workers in coveralls who were patiently waiting in line to place their orders. Because it’s summer, lots of elementary kids were there with their parents, whereas during the school year, the only kids there on a weekday are students from nearby Albany High. One of the boys behind me in line yelled down the street to his dad for his cell so he could phone in their order because he didn’t want to wait in the long line. I don’t even know if Gordo’s takes phone orders, but his dad ignored his request. Despite the length of the line, it only took ten minutes to reach the spot where the burrito assembly began, and the guys behind the counter were quick and efficient.

Gordo painting
Gordo’s decor

Our group consisted of George, his son Dylan (who just graduated from college and is home for the summer), Dave, and me. (Kylie had not been awake long enough to feel ready for lunch.) When we sat down, I mentioned that I hadn’t been to Gordo’s in over ten years, to which Dylan responded that since he’d been home (five days?), he’d been nowhere else. George admitted that Gordo’s was the favorite of everyone in his family except him.

Gordo George's plate
George’s lunch

George got the chile verde platter, which was a pretty good deal. It was basically everything that would have been a burrito but separate, and two tortillas instead of one. Because the place is chiefly takeout, everything is packaged to go. So George had to eat his meal out of a Styrofoam container even though we snagged one of the two only four-person tables in the tiny dining area.

Gordo DP's super burrito
Dave’s super burrito

Dylan seemed quite happy with his burrito, and Dave had no complaints about his. I, on the other hand, had a few problems. First, every bite resulted in tortilla lining the roof of my mouth, and I spent an inordinate amount of time scraping it off with my tongue as unobtrusively as possible while attempting to participate in the conversation. Dave concluded that my gummy tortilla was the result of being over-steamed. In addition, even though I had opted for salsa and additional hot sauce, the burrito was pretty bland. Certainly edible but disappointing. Sorry, Rachel—that’s the way I feel.

So I don’t really see the need to return to Gordo’s for another ten years, but it doesn’t look like it will hurt their business because the faithful will return, and the lines will continue.






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