Category Archives: National Taco Day

Where to Eat Nationwide on National Taco Day

Taco placero at Taqueria Izucar

This is list is good beyond National Taco Day too.

You might not know this but tomorrow, Thursday, October 4, is the silly sad fabricated food holiday known as National Taco Day in the United States. It offers Mexican restaurants and taquerias an opportunity for promotion, while offering multinational restaurant chains like Taco Bell an even greater boost. There are insane specials available across the country mañana. Google them.

But before you do so, consider this list of taco suggestions across the style spectrum collected while traveling for research for my forthcoming book, American Tacos: A History and Guide to the Taco Trail North of the Border (University of Texas Press). Visiting them all might even be possible if Star Trek transporter tech were real.

B.S. Taqueria

A downtown restaurant with an airy space, B.S. Taqueria has a communal table that stands tall. It makes for an excellent vantage point from which to watch the kitchen staff quietly work to send out the sprightliest churros you’ve ever had and the spice-charged brine-pouch that is the clam and lardo taco. You might even get a glimpse of chef-owner Ray Garcia. A serape pattern-stylized U.S. flag hangs on a nearby wall. The back room offers a respite from the urban center with walls decorated as the loose, open curtain of a bright forest. Plants hang from the overhead wood beams. I did not sit in the rear dining space. During my visits to B.S. Taqueria, I’ve always sat in the front room, where I’ve enjoyed the aforementioned clam and lardo taco but also the cheese-covered chorizo and potato taco, both of which came on a blue corn tortilla. It’s a taco of rich swells, showcasing Garcia’s expertise with classic preparations. Meanwhile, the bologna taco recalls Garcia’s upbringing. It was one of the first things he learned to make for himself as a kid. Heating up a tortilla, maybe a little bit burned, warming up bologna (“or not,” he tells me during a phone interview), rolling it up—and that was a snack. With rare exception, Garcia says in regards to the bologna taco and other menu selections, “there are not a whole lot of things that were a replica of a dish that my mother or my grandmother made that are still on the menu.” 514 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014, 213-622-3744, www.bstaqueria.com

Barrio Café

My favorite at this Phoenix institution is the Baja-style shrimp lightly enchased in a Tecate-buoyed batter, offset in texture by fans of avocado and knots of cabbage. The taco is finished with a classic chipotle cream sauce that gives the pocket zing. The restaurant’s signature cochinita pibil, pork bathed in achiote and sour orange juice that is then roasted in banana leaves is as close as one gets to the traditional in-ground preparation. The finished meat is pleasantly puckering and topped with cuts of pickled red onions. 2814 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006, 602-636-0240, www.barriocafe.com

Boca Tacos y Tequila

Sitting along the city’s Fourth Avenue, Boca Tacos is chef Maria J. Mazon’s misperception-busting tortilla pulpit. The Tucson-born, Sonora-raised Mazon sees tacos as more than quick curbside noshes. They’re refined eats presented in tortillas, whether those be corn or flour. Mazon and crew do an excellent job of balancing renderings of traditional tacos, especially the regional sort, with interpretations of favorite foods and ingredients applied differently, beginning with house-made corn and flour tortillas. My number one out of the 24 options is the Taco Dog. This take on the beloved Sonoran hot dog comprises a bench of bacon-wrapped hotdog upon which rest a union of onion twists, tomato-dominated pico de gallo, and whole beans. Vegetarians are sated with grilled tofu lathered in honey mustard, a breakfast taco of sorts in the hash browns and fried egg taco, and my preferred choice, a ladle of poblano and Anaheim rajas and corn enveloped in cream. Don’t sleep on the northern Mexican-style discada with a beef-chorizo base or specials like the sliced rib-eye with a peanut sesame-basil salsa. 533 N 4th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705, 520-777-8134, www.bocatacos.com

Carnitas Lonja

One of the greatest meals I’ve had this year was at a tiny San Antonio specializing in one dish—carnitas. Served as plate or as tacos, the carnitas at Lonja are mellow, juicy, and, as is true of the best tacos, world-silencing. Go early. Carnitas Lonja sells out. 1107 Roosevelt Ave, San Antonio, TX 78210, www.facebook.com/Lonja17

Chacho’s Tacos

In Corpus Christi, the flour tortillas are often thicker—like an actually comfortable futon—but they vary in width. It is here that super tacos stuffed with a ridiculous number of items become common. An extreme example of the super taco is the namesake at Chacho’s Tacos: 14 inches of squishy flour tortilla straining to harness its motley innards of everything else on the menu. It’s a gloriously intimidating wonder ideal for college-buddy dares and treating hangovers. Another option is weenies and eggs. 3700 Ayers St, Corpus Christi, TX 78415, 361-888-7378

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Filed under Best of, breakfast tacos, National Taco Day, Taco Tours

Morales Restaurant

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Morales Restaurant specializes in Huastecan food.

Increasingly I see all antojitos and vitamin T comidas (tacos, tamales, tortas, huaraches, etc.) as being in this website’s wheelhouse. This is especially true when a restaurant makes something from scratch. Perhaps a taco spot serves mass-produced tortillas for its tacos but reserves handmade masa for tlayduas. The tacos could be outstanding while the tlayudas send one reeling into another dimension. Tacos are on the menus of most Mexican eating establishments but when it comes to a particular restaurant, perhaps they do something killer or so regionally specific an order of that signature item along with tacos, in my case, is the appropriate order. It should be the order.

Morales Restaurant in Oak Cliff’s Dells District is such a place. The rare spot in the Dallas area specializing in the food of La Huasteca, a region of Mexico encompassing parts of San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hildago, among other Mexican states and named for the indigenous group the Huastec, Morales came recommended by Obed Manuel, occasional contributor to the Taco Trail. His father hails from La Huasteca and swears by Morales Restaurant. The small eatery, about six tables in a sparse, narrow front dining room with two more rooms in the rear, is in the same commercial strip as Hardeman’s BBQ and my barber shop. It also shares a wall with another Mexican joint, Fito’s #3, an outpost of the local chain specializing in the food of Monterrey, Mexico (far from La Huasteca).

Morales’ specialty is zacahuil, a banana leaf-wrapped tamal prepared for celebrations—weddings, baptisms, quinceñeras—because they feed large parties. How is a tamal supposed to serve 10, 20, 50 people? When the tamal in question is a behemoth that can reach up to 15 feet or longer. It’s a gold mine of a food. The serving I enjoyed was spooned from the larger tamal and came packed with shredded pork cooked in a stew of chile colorado chunky with pearls of fragrant masa. The aroma of banana leaf lingered warmly, as did the spice, which was constant but not crippling. For this alone Morales is remarkable.

But it’s more than a bastion for such a regional dish and kin like bocoles and migadas. Continue reading

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Filed under Dallas, National Taco Day, Oak Cliff, Reviews, Texas

A National Taco Day Taqueria List

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Come National Taco Day, Friday, you’ll be required to eat a plethora of tacos. You’ll be overwhelmed with choices. So, we thought we’d offer a few choices. The following selections were compiled with the help of fellow taco enthusiasts across the United States. If your city is mentioned below, these joints are where you grab a taco or nine, especially if you haven’t visited it. Adventure is an integral component of the enjoyment of tacos.

California

Colonia Taco Lounge, 13030 E. Valley Blvd., La Puente, CA 91746, 626-363-4691, Facebook. Coliflor with a caper salsa on tortillas molded by ex-Bouchon head baker’s hands (te la puedes imaginar), taco de chayote with calabacita succotash, pork and kabocha squash pumpkin carnitas with a salsa seca

Diablo Steak

Diablo Taco, 3129 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026, 323-666-4666, Facebook, Twitter, www.diablotaco.com. Coca-Cola asada, caramelized onions and white bacon beans (pictured) or the maple-fried chicken and kale.

El Faisan y El Venado, 231 N. Ave. 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042, 323-257-1770. Escabeche Oriental Continue reading

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Filed under California, Canada, Florida, Illinois, National Taco Day, Oregon, Taco Week, Texas

What I Ate on National Taco Day: Tacos al Vapor

Street tacos come in a plethora of forms: pastor/trompo, guisados, chapulines, etc. While I’ve enjoyed those, I have been unable to sample until National Taco Day a hard-to-find variety in Dallas: tacos al vapor. These tacos are steamed treats sometimes listed as tacos de canasta (basket, referring to the vessel in which they are kept warm and steamed) and tacos sudado (sweated). But at the two taquerías I visited last Thursday, they were labeled as al vapor. Along for the ride was Alex Flores, the graphic whiz who gives this blog its visual appeal.

The tacos al vapor at Taco Rico on Clarendon are priced at a dollar a piece and available by cash only. We didn’t know what to expect. For that price, we could easily be presented with cold, gummy envelopes hiding sad fillings. What we received was a plate of iridescent pockets containing deshebrada de pollo, potato and frijol, each of which could be piled with cabbage and chopped tomatoes. Continue reading

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Filed under DFW, National Taco Day, North Texas, Oak Cliff, Reviews, Texas

The North Texas Taco Festival Is Coming to Dallas

Happy National Taco Day. Great news: Dallas is finally getting a proper taco festival. The North Texas Taco Festival will be a celebration of our area’s taco diversity held in conjunction with the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and presented by the Taco Trail and Entrée Dallas.

The event will host more than 10 taquerías, restaurants and food trucks, serving some of Dallas-Fort Worth’s favorite tacos. Among the vendors offering classic and unique tacos will be Cafeteria y Loncheria El Padrino, Rusty Taco, Rock and Roll Tacos and So-Cal Tacos. Those curious about Filipino tacos will amble into Zen Bistro & Dessert Bar.

During an Iron Chef-style competition, Dallas chefs, including Brian C. Luscher (The Grape Restaurant), will go tortilla to tortilla for the honor of best taco, as judged by a panel of local writers and discerning taco enthusiasts.

And that’s only the beginning. More exciting announcements will be made leading up to the festival.

The North Texas Taco Festival will be held Saturday, April 20, 2013, 11 a.m.–5 p.m., on the 2800 block of Main Street between Malcolm X Boulevard and Crowdus Street, alongside the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market and its 40 vendors.

For questions and sponsorship or vendor inquiries, please contact José Ralat-Maldonado at 917-854-2917 or ralatMaldonado AT Gmail dot Com or Brandon Castillo at 972-898-9227 or Brandon AT DeepEllumMarket dot com. Visit www.northtexastacofestival.com for up-to-date information.

Now, go eat some tacos.

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Filed under Dallas, Deep Ellum, DFW, events, festivals, National Taco Day, News, North Texas

The Great Taco Run Goes the Tortilla Course

A different sort of taco trail is taking to Dallas on Sunday, Sept. 30. The Great Taco Run will give the city another race with another hook, yes, but can you think of anything more rewarding after giving it your all along the streets of the Big D than tacos? I can’t.

Presented by area sports store Luke’s Locker and benefiting the Trinity Strand and Katy Trail, the race will be separated into 5K, 10K and 10-mile lengths, all finishing at the Runners Village at Museum Way and Victory Avenue, near the American Airlines Center, where several taco vendors will be serving up their signature fare beginning at 8:30 a.m. Participants will be able to vote for their favorite taco vendor while a panel of judges will choose theirs. The winners will be announced on National Taco Day, Thursday, Oct. 4. Continue reading

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How I Spent My National Taco Day

That stud muffin at right is Chef Joey Crowell, a friend who surprised me yesterday when he gave me a Ranch Hand taco from Good 2 Go Taco. I was attempting to get some work done before my gluttonous day.

“It’s a Frito pie in a tortilla,” he proudly explained. Indeed, that’s exactly what the combination of asparagus, potato, spinach, tortilla strips, rice, huevos rancheros and cheese (kicked up with bonus chorizo) went down tasting. Continue reading

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National Taco Day (or What You’ll Eat Tomorrow)

While its origins are steeped in as much mystery as the provenance of that “pork” inside the roach-coach taco, National Taco Day (Tuesday, Oct. 4) is just a cheap opportunity for Mexican and Tex-Mex eateries to make an extra buck, much like Christmas and Coke, albeit one that makes for a great excuse to eat the world’s most perfect and versatile comestible.

I reached out to a slew of area taco joints in an effort to collect the information in one place. What I found out is below.  Continue reading

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