Let’s Talk Tacos

Since my doc put me on a gluten-free diet a few years ago, Japanese and Mexican cuisine have pretty much been the range of my restaurant/take-out preferences. Limiting my restaurant choices has forced me to sample more of the menus than I might have in the past. If you only have Mexican a couple times a month it’s easy to just order your favorite each time. Make that a couple times a week, and you have to mix it up a bit. My go-to taco used to be al pastor or carnitas, but my new favorite is alambre which is a combination of carne asada, bacon, onions, and peppers, buried under a mess of melted cheese. Yesterday I tried tacos de cabeza for the first time, made from meat stewed off a cow’s head. It was almost like a beef version of pork belly. Very tasty, but a little goes a long way. Next time I’ll just order one and fill in the rest of my 3 taco order with something else.

I wonder if your cabeza tacos are along the lines of barbacoa, which uses cheek meat IIRC. Very tasty stuff!

Perhaps consider fish, shrimp tacos? Also when making your own, 1) Use lettuce leaf or 2) jicama tortillas to add variety.

I’m a big fan of both, but I have to avoid the breaded and fried varieties. I’m not a fan of lettuce on my tacos, but a little cabbage provides a good crunch.

I like my tacos “A La Mexicana”. Carne asada, onions and cilantro. I think that the pairing of raw onion and cilantro is a beautiful thing. And the home made hot sauce in the little plastic tub is wonderful stuff.

I recently discovered tacos rojos. They are tacos filled with meat which has been stewed in a rich red chile broth. The corn tortillas are first dipped in the broth/fat, placed flat on a griddle, then heaped up with meat and perhaps shredded cheese. The tortilla is then folded over, and the taco is grilled for awhile on both sides. Grill it a shortish time, and it’s a soft taco. Grill it longer, and it gets crispy. The red chile meat broth colors the tortilla a rich orangish red and flavors it vividly. They’re served with lime wedges to cut the richness, and they’re wonderful.

Don’t know how easy they are to find, though. We drive to a big agricultural area with a big farmworker population, and the taco quality in areas like these is very high and there’s a better selection.

That’s one I’ve never encountered, and I live in an area with a large Hispanic agricultural work force (CA Central Coast) It sounds delicious.

I didn’t know that’s what they were called, but it makes sense. You can get five for 35 pesos ($1.95) on the street in Mexico City. They are really tiny, but five will fill you up between breakfast and dinner.

Generally advertised as “street tacos” to differentiate them from the bog standard American version of the “hard-shell taco.”

“Street taco” to me just means small. Hard shell tacos are too messy for eating on the street even if you could find a self-respecting taquero who’d sell you one.

I had to look it up, but if you really want to impress the proprietor, ask for Carne Asada Jardin. Jardin (garden) refers to cilantro and onions.

See if you can find a place that does birria tacos, or make your own. The recipe on that site isn’t the best one I’ve seen (a whole can of chipotles?), but it explains what they are.

Look for someone who makes tacos de tripitas.

Now I’m inspired to get a couple of tacos adobada for breakfast. The family place at the end of the block has a 24-hour drive-thru.

We have a place in town that does Tripa (tripe), Cezo (brain), and Lingua (tongue). I’ve tried each of them exactly once.

Yeah, the stranger parts of a cow will never knowingly enter my mouth. I’ve tried them all once, and that was enough.

I’ll give it a try. (As long as that doesn’t also get me tomatoes, don’t want any of that!)

I agree. Unless it’s (a small) part of a salsa.

Here (Chicago) you don’t have to say anything. Onions and cilantro is the standard topping. Or perhaps they will ask you “onions and cilantro?” It’s not called a “street taco” here. Just a “taco.” Maybe some of the food trucks advertise something called street tacos, but to me, that’s kind of what a street taco is — one sold in the street from a mobile or temporary vendor.

Lettuce, tomato, and cheese is the other topping combo option at your basic tacqueria, and I think it’s sometimes called “gringo.” Corn tortilla tacos generally come double tortilla’d here as they tend to be fairly stuffed with filling.

Outside the usual tacos everyone’s familiar with, I like chicharrones en salsa verde tacos (pork rind with green salsa). Goat tacos are quite delish, as well, and I do enjoy the lengua. The tripe I prefer in menudo and the sesos is a bit too rich for me.

Oh and if you can find a place that does tacos de canasta (basket tacos), it’s worth a check. These are a style of tacos with many kinds of filling that are traditionally made beforehand and stored in a basket lined with paper and plastic. The constructed tacos are placed in the basket in a layer, sauce is ladled over them, another layer, etc. It is then covered and the tacos end up steaming in the basket, as well (hence the other name for them, tacos al vapor.) So you get this somewhat sloppy taco with a sauce infused tortilla. It’s normally served by mobile vendors (hence the idea of them) but we also have tacquerias that specialize in them.

I love goat tacos! I used to get them from a food truck parked near my high school. I didn’t know it was goat until I was reminiscing with a class mate years later and he clued me in. There is only one place in town that has them and only on weekends for some reason. I’ve made an approximation at home with my pressure cooker and cheap frozen mutton pieces from a Mexican market two towns over. I’ve never seen goat in any meat counter.

Weekends for special foods are not uncommon at Mexican restaurants here. Menudo and posole, growing up as a Polish kid, I knew were weekend-only/“fin de semana” dishes as my dad and I both loved menudo and sometimes we wanted a change of pace from the Polish version. I think I’ve seen some places only do goat birria (which looks different than most of the Instagram birria I see these days which appears to be fried and often has cheese.)

There also appears to be some