For food hunting, weekends are the best time to visit Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood, wrote John Birdsall in response to my query. "One bonus of Sunday," he added, is "all the activity around St. Elizabeth church on 34th St., especially the throngs who show up for the delicious Guadalajara-style barbacoa tortas ahogadas at the little trailer Pipirin."
At one time lamb was reportedly Pipirin's barbacoa of choice; the stand's current commercially printed signs now speak of "juicy beef." So did the proprietor. Though he had good words for the lengua, or beef tongue, and pierna, or leg of pork, we sealed our transaction when he handed over a beef barbacoa torta ahogada ($6) wet with a thin bright spicy sauce. The torta, and a wad of napkins; literally, ahogada means "drowned."
If I spent more time in the Bay Area, Birdsall's delightful reviews would be my constant study. As for food hunting in New York, it's a mystery that tortas ahogadas are near-impossible to find. We do have the napkins.
In the parking lot at 34th Ave. and Farnam St., Oakland
Exact hours unknown, but reportedly closed after 6:00 and all day Monday
(From an August 2011 visit)