Let me be the first to ring the bell: the flavors of Acapulco have been reincarnated as Mama Rose's Recipes, alive and well in the kitchen of the Fireden on Park Street.
My family has made many memories celebrating birthdays in restaurants in Alameda. My aunt Karen loves Kamakura (and we love the Boton rice candy.) My uncle Steve used to reserve the long table at Ton Shen. Sometimes we self-cater my mom's birthday with La Val's pizza. And if it isn't cliche enough, we more often than not took over the back corner of the Acapulco, and left with lollipops in our pockets. Do we have a candy addiction or what?
I had the unfortunate coincidence of being out of the country when Acapulco went out of business a few years ago. I had asked my parents if we could go there for my homecoming dinner - I was really craving a half order beef tostada, no onions. I was too late, and I didn't like the idea of giving up the food that to me defines being home.
So imagine our elation when we called up Mama Rose's this afternoon to check out the rumors: is it really back? Oh yeah, baby. Not only back, but alive and kicking and able to cater my father's birthday party at the very last second.
(We told him we were going to pick up pizza, he joked "I wish it were Acapulco." and when we came back with trays of bean dip and enchiladas, he exclaimed, "No way!" like this were his 10th birthday, and not his 52nd.)
So if you, too, had resigned yourself to the harsh reality of life without your childhood favorite, Acapulco, don't fear. Here's what you need to do:
Drive/walk/bike over to the Fireden on Park Street. You've probably never been there, the building is bright orange and muraled. Walk to the back of the Fireden, don't worry about the bar crowd, and place your order. It's the same, I swear. It might even be a bit better. One change is the lack of fried anything (smaller kitchen, smaller range of menu) - so the tacos are "street style" on grilled tortillas, not fried. They're fabulous. The enchiladas? A little more of a kick than usual. The bean dip? Same. The rice? Same. It made all the Kenneys (and extended family) clear their plates, twice.
It doesn't matter whether you consider this menu "authentic" anything. What does matter is if you feel like having some home cooked food with a lot of love, a lot of tradition, and a lot flavor, you have to go here. It's a little hidden, so they could use a lot of light shed on their new venture.
And you still get a lollipop.