Eating Lunch Up Valley: Napa’s Best Taco Options

Al Pastor Tacos @ La Luna Market, Rutherford.

When I was working as a wine educator in Rutherford and Oakville, quick lunch options were unusually scarce. Aside from an occasional Dean & DeLuca sandwich, Mexican food was the only feasible option up valley — not that I ever complained all that much. Being a native of California, Mexican food will always be a staple for me, and the tacos on this page represent literally hundreds of past lunches, especially the tacos al pastor at La Luna Market, pictured above. Conservatively, I’ve eaten over one thousand tacos at La Luna (at an average of about eight tacos per week for over three years, you do the math). Of course, with that many visits to one taqueria, I’ve sampled La Luna’s entire menu several times over, but at this point, I’ve distilled my go-to selections down to just two choices: their tacos al pastor, or their carnitas (extra crispy) super burrito.

I’ll save the burrito discussion for another time, but La Luna’s al pastor tacos are quite good, if a bit uneven sometimes. At their best, the ground pork has been rendered enough to have a few crispy bits, with the red sauce providing just enough piquant heat. Now that I’ve returned to professional cooking, my trips to La Luna have lessened significantly, but the hopes of on-point al pastor will still lure me up to Rutherford. On the other hand, if I’m in the mood for carne asada, I’ve found that the shrewd move is to drive a bit further to the north, up to Azteca Market in St. Helena. Azteca and La Luna are similar in the sense that both taquerias operate within small convenience stores, although Azteca’s carne asada is superior to that of its Rutherford counterpart. Pictured below, Azteca’s carne asada tacos feature a delicious salsa verde, though my only complaint is that sometimes the meat could be chopped a bit smaller.

Carne Asada @ Azteca Market, St. Helena.

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>