This is a great place to take someone on a first date, especially if you're trying to prove you're a little edgy -- assuming your date would dig the combination of terracotta window boxes and diner-style Formica floors -- but very low-maintenance at the same time. After all, you know how to get all your essential amino acids for less than five bones. Fruitvale's answer to a greasy spoon, Zamorano squats at the freeway exit on High Street and International Boulevard, where it's surrounded by produce stands, hole-in-the-wall nightclubs, storefront churches, taco trucks, and low-rider cars that bump teeth-chattering hyphy beats or loud Latino banda
music. Don't expect the organic yogurt or braised-tofu wraps you might find in downtown Berkeley (beef brain might be the most exotic thing on Zamorano's menu), and don't anticipate spending your whole paycheck either: The cheapest burritos are only $2.35 and are still fatter, spicier, ricier, and beanier than anything this side of the Mission District's El Farolito. Your meal includes a free optional garnish of radishes and juicy jalapeño peppers -- as is customary for the taquerias along International. For just a bit more you can add your choice of meat, sour cream, guacamole, and the whole nine, or supersize -- if you dare.
2989 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-204-9027
1423 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-528-8226