Category Archives: Taco Tours

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

Chicago Taco Trails: 106th Street

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Chicago: Taco capital. Home to Rick Bayless, the chef who helped changed Americans’ minds about Mexican cuisine and turned south of the border foodways into a fine-dining force, and a sizable, diverse Mexican immigrant population, offers aficionados of Mexican food, plenty of options. Chicago is also home to Titus Ruscitti, author of the Chicago Taco Tour blog, the tacologist behind the @tweetsoftacos Twitter account, and contributor to Serious Eats, LTHforum.com, Thrillist and Travel Wisconsin. We at the Taco Trail are honored that Titus, or Taco T, as he’ll be known here, is also Taco Trail’s newest contributor.

Without further ado:

Today we head to a part of Chicago rarely seen to those not from here. Actually, the same goes for many who do reside in the city. The East Side of Chicago sits in it’s own little part of the cities landscape. Most people see it driving over 106th Street while taking the Chicago skyway in or out of the city. What you also see when taking that route is the last of the industrial areas which goes by “Da Region”  amongst locals. You can check out a taco report I did on the old-school Mexican-American restaurants of northwest Indiana. But today we’re going to stay on the Chicago side and check out the trail along 106th Street, which is basically the last line between the city and the state of Indiana. Continue reading

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Filed under Chicago, Illinois, Reviews, Taco Tours

Revolver Taco Lounge

Not all great taquerías are hovels found in neglected districts. Some shine white and clean in developing enclaves. Case in point: Revolver Taco Lounge, a contemporary Mexican restaurant awash in white with orange accents along West Seventh Street in Fort Worth.

Opened for more than a year, Revolver offers Mexican standards humble in presentation. Here, the Rojas family offers pipian, a green mole with pumpkin seeds, blankets duck breast. A lobster taco is laced with chipotle butter sauce. In the mood for huitlacoche? Revolver’s got it.

The eatery’s tacos come wrapped in house-made tortillas produced from nixtamal (i.e., the hard way) in a kitchen staffed by—stereotypically enough—smock-wearing elderly women, among them owner Gino Rojas’ mother and aunt. Continue reading

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Filed under DFW, Fort Worth, one of the freaking best, Reviews, Taco Tours, Texas

May Taco Trail Tour Preview

Two days from now, I’m leading an unknown number of taco tourists through the Northwest Highway-Webb Chapel area of Dallas. The region offers some real gems, including my all-time favorite joint, La Nueva Fresh & Hot Tortilleria.

As the establishment’s name infers, La Nueva is not a restaurant. Rather, it’s a tortilla factory that offers some silence-inducing dishes, not just tacos filled with outstanding guisados. La Nueva also offers tamales and gorditas as well as other delights—all of it made in-house.  Continue reading

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Filed under Bachman Lake, Northwest Highway, Taco Tours

Tour de Taco Wrap-Up

el Tour de Taco group photo by Chris Curnutt/Facebook

There are some days that are ideal for a bike ride, never mind a phenomenal group ride. Yesterday was one of those days. It was then that Bike Friendly Deep Ellum’s Paul Adams led the el Tour de Taco, a relaxed bike tour of Dallas through Deep Ellum Fair Park, the Arts District, Downtown, the Cedars and back to Deep Ellum. Cyclist of all stripe and experience levels joined in. There was even a four-person recumbent party bike. Continue reading

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Filed under Deep Ellum, Taco Tours