By day El Gusano in Oakland, California, is a taqueria, serving up quick bites like taco truck-style tacos, burritos and pombazo, while at night it turns into a full restaurant, with happy hour specials, an extensive mescal selection and of course a full dinner menu with offerings like enchiladas, solo carne and fajitas.
The cuisine at El Gusano is inspired by the chefs’ long love-affair with Latin American food, including the fusions found in Los Angeles and San Francisco. At El Gusano, diners will find a simple, casual space where they can enjoy Mexican and Central American classics with a modern twist.
Four of us each with different selections all had the same reaction. Meat was dry, drinks were weak and the rice had an off- putting taste as if it came from a packaged product, not made on premises.
The crafted trio of salsas were fabulous and the chips thin and crispy. Go for a beer and a basket of chips.
We took a chance because I wanted a good margarita. They do not have a blender, but the margs on the rocks are excellent. The food was a real surprise, though, how good it was. Even the rice and beans were outstanding.
I was so diappointed! It's a beautiful restaurant and the menu looked delicious but when we received the food we were not impressed. Ordered apps and dinner and they brought everything out at the same time (hate that). The scallops were overcooked and did not taste good with the plantain hash. The enpanadas was soggy and oily and out meals had no flavor. The best thing there was the mango margarita and chips and salsa. Not sure we'll be going back there.
Amazing complimentary trio of salsas with really fantastic tortilla chips. I highly recommend the Mirnas Salbutes and Huaraches, very tasty and nice textures. Delicious margaritas and cocktails. Cool interior design. Great service at dinner.
The service was slow & inconsistant. People were very friendly though. Food was very delicious!
Really good food, welcoming atmosphere, and solid drinks. El Gusano makes no pretense that they are a fine dining restaurant, but they elevate the concept of a casual, comfortable, reasonably priced neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Drinks are strong and tasty. Food was more adventurous than I expected, and everything we ordered was perfectly executed. The service was not perfect, but everyone was very helpful and friendly. This was my first visit but I expect I'll be back often.
The food tasted OK. Cocktails were good. We were a party of 5 and seated promptly, but from the moment we ordered, we felt rushed. Our server even brought out our check when we hadn't even looked at the dessert menu (very rude). Not going back for lots of reasons.
We all enjoyed the meals for our party of 4. Excellent Chili Verde. Chips and Guacamole were addicting. Only downside was we ordered house Margaritas and it took a very long time to show up. One showed up as I was just finishing my meal and I ordered it before the food showed up at the table. I would go back for the food.
Food was great, service was great and the drinks were delicious!
We had an inconsistent set of food. We had salad and plantains; the plantains were quite good, but the salad was under seasoned, watery and tasteless, had iceberg lettuce, and had none of the pepitas that were claimed in the menu. Margaritas have gone downhill; perhaps due to the lime shortage there were substitutes for fresh lime, but if so, that should have been clearly stated so that we could make an informed choice. Chile verde was quite good, but the chicken mole had more bones, tendons and skin than leg meat.
There is a lot to be said for a restaurant that consistently delivers the same food with attention to service. This can be said about El Gusano. It would be delightful to see a more diverse menu or at least daily specials.
I have yet to find Mexican food in the Bay area that I truly love, El Gusano comes closer than the rest. The complimentary chips and 3 varieties of salsa were outstanding, as was the guacamole. The margaritas were good and the beans and rice were very good. The rest of the menu was very fresh California-Mex, very good but not the Tex-Mex I love and miss so much.
I had an 8:30pm reservation through Open Table, showed up ten minutes late (by no exaggeration) and the manager would not seat us! The manager acknowledged that we had a reservation and said that because the restaurant was slow, they closed the kitchen and would not seat us. Nothing was done to make up for this at all. My friends and I walked down the street to an Indian restaurant and enjoyed ourselves there.
Regardless of our 8PM res, at 8:30, before our appetizers even showed up, we were told the kitchen was closing and we must order our dinner! Their listed hours are 5:30pm-9:30pm; the even take 930PM reservations! I spoke to the manager who gave me a sob story abt how tired she was, her kitchen "fell apart" that day and she wanted to go home. Food & drinks were absolutely delicious. Bartender & our server were incredibly nice. It's just too bad about the whackadoodle manager and the forced ordering of our food. We would have ordered much more food and drinks but due to being rushed out. I really want to return b/c of the quality of food but if that's how they treat their customers, I will definitely have to think twice before going again.
Everything we ate was tasty! We went here before seeing a show at Yoshi's Oakland, which is just several blocks away from this restaurant.