Tag Archives: Velvet Taco

A History of the Taco Holder

Taco Holder at Richard Sandoval's El Centro D.F., Facebook/

Taco Holder at Richard Sandoval’s El Centro D.F., Facebook.

Introduction and Ingenuity

Old El Paso wants you to believe the wisdom of babes, specifically Spanish-speaking Mexican children, spurs innovation. In a 2004 commercial advertising the Tex-Mex foodstuffs manufacturer’s revolutionary product, a young boy is saddened by his father’s failed attempts at getting their crunchy tacos to remain upright. We see him go so far as to hammer nails into the family dining table, hence creating a workshop-style taco slot. His son bemoans the lack of flat-bottom shells. Eureka! The Stand ’N Stuff Taco is born. The boy is feted as a hero by the entire village framed by cacti and adobe. A voice-over declares “True Genuis. Mexican style.”

However ingenious it might be, the flat-bottom taco shell is not Mexican style. Instead, these prefabricated crunchy tacos exist somewhere between contempt and respect for their place in history. They were developed from the first tacos in the United States (not Mexico), but are considered tasteless bastardizations of their progenitors. Still, they allow for safe entry into the wider world of tacos and carry nostalgia with those who grew up eating them on taco night or Taco Bell. They’re also extremely fragile.

Appearing in the United States in the early 20th century, these hard-shell vittles were created by Mexican immigrants, embraced by Anglo Americans and reviled by Mexicans as aberrations of their traditional tacos dorados (fresh fried tacos). Continue reading

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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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My Five Favorite “Specialty” Tacos

I lump specialty and traditional tacos in my Best Of lists because the pesky issue of taco authenticity is something I overcame long ago. The breakfast taco (a Tex-Mex classic) is no less legitimate than a taco al pastor (an iconic Mexico City snack appropriated from the roasting preparation Lebanese immigrants brought with them in the 20th century). The same goes for Velvet Taco’s fare or the Taco Bell-Frito Lay chimera, the Doritos Locos Tacos.

Today, I temporarily separate the categories. The specialty/gourmet/gringo/upmarket/whatever you want to call the tacos that do not adhere strictly to a misplaced perception of the uber-traditional deserve as much praise and scrutiny as the liquid fire of the guisado verde from La Nueva Fresh & Hot or the crackerjack carnitas from El Pueblo Restaurant on Jefferson Avenue. This list, then, gives greater  attention to tacos and restaurants who have earned it. And now—with old favorites and double-takes—in no particular order: Continue reading

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