Mexican restaurant opens in former Shen Hua Berkeley space

In June, Berkeley residents mourned the loss of Shen Hua, a popular Chinese restaurant that had been open for nearly 25 years on College Avenue. Now the Elmwood neighborhood is getting a new restaurant: 5 Tacos & Beers, the second location of Mexican restaurant Albany, as first reported And now San Francisco.

5 Tacos chef and owner Lito Saldaña ran Berkeley’s Cancun Sabor Mexicana for 15 years until he decided to open his own restaurant, Los Moles in Emeryville (Los Moles now also has locations in El Cerrito and San Rafael). The idea for 5 Tacos & Beers, which opened in Albany in 2020, was born out of the popularity of “taco Tuesday” in Los Moles.

“We were very popular with Taco Tuesdays, so we decided to open a concept just for tacos and beers,” Saldaña told SFGATE.

Quesabirria at 5 Tacos & Beers at 1175 Solano Ave in Albany. A new restaurant location opens in Berkeley.

Courtesy of 5 tacos and beers

When 5 Tacos first opened they only served five types of tacos, hence the name. But Saldaña eventually added more options to the menu, including ceviche, flautas and vegan options. However, the specialty remains the tacos.

“It’s kind of like street tacos, but more like home-style — home-style which means we make everything from scratch, like we make handmade corn tortillas,” Saldaña said. “…I grew up in Mexico in a small town where we used to grow everything. We used to raise the animals and that was the meat we ate. So the idea is to “bringing quality ingredients. We really care about what the customer is going to eat here.”

5 Tacos also serves a long list of craft beers from local breweries, with no “corporate beers” on the menu, Saldaña said.

Papa's vegan flautas at 5 Tacos & Beers at 1175 Solano Ave in Albany.  A new restaurant location opens in Berkeley.

Papa’s vegan flautas at 5 Tacos & Beers at 1175 Solano Ave in Albany. A new restaurant location opens in Berkeley.

Courtesy of 5 tacos and beers

For him, moving into the space at 2914 College Ave. is a bit of a homecoming.

“I actually grew up mostly in Berkeley,” he said. “I can’t wait to be back in Berkeley. I think this place is great. I really like the area.”


The new Berkeley 5 Tacos & Beers is set to open in September. Another new Walnut Creek location is also set to open in the coming months at 1352 Locust Street.

5 Tacos & Beers, 2914 College Avenue, Berkeley. Opening in September.



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