Northside Neighborhood Association

Businesses & Restaurants

Las Brasas

Las Brasas Bldg "The last stop on my search for the best taco in Silicon Valley brings me to a sidewalk barbecue where North America and Latin America blend together - and to the winning taco.

"[Northside resident] Larry Jensen has invited me to Las Brasas Restaurant at the corner of Julian and 17th Streets, in one of San Jose's oldest and most culturally diverse neighborhoods.

* * * *

"There isn't a more authentic Mexican restaurant in Silicon Valley than Las Brasas. It takes up the first floor of a large pink house, where the owners live. . . . There's an upright rotisserie, the kind you find throughout Mexico. This one has a pineapple at the top end that drips juice onto the rotating pork.

"Las Brasas is a genuine mom-and-pop restaurant. Pop is Ramon Ruiz. A trained butcher, he buys and cuts the meats. Mom is Carmen Ruiz, who prepares the marinades and chile salsas.

"The Ruizes come from Gaudalajara, the city that has sent more Mexicans to Silicon Valley than any other city. It's poetic coincidence that I find the best taco in a restaurant that most symbolizes the north-south connection.

"Without a doubt, the best taco in Silicon Valley is Las Brasas' taco de suadero.

"Any backyard barbecue loving American knows the meat. Suadero is the tender meet from the lower part of a beef rib. It's the part you eat first. . . .

"At Las Brasas, Ramon Ruiz prepares the suadero meat and hands it to Carmen, who marinates lightly. . . . Placed in two warmed, small corn tortillas, the suadero filling is toped with a little chopped onion and cilantro. They add a delicately balanced brown salsa of toasted tomatillos and red chile arbol that doesn't burn or wimp out.

"This is more than the best taco; it's the best taco experience in Silicon Valley. But here's the catch: the suadero taco is served only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights after 7 p.m., when Las Brasas holds its outdoor taquisas or taco parties."

- Joe Rodriguez, San Jose Mercury News, September 1999

Las Brasas is located at 763 E. Julian St., next door to Lai Lai's. Telephone: 408-971-9639.

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