What IS a taco?

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BT
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2005/06/18 14:16:04 (permalink)

What IS a taco?

At places like Taco Bell, a taco is ground meat slopped into a U-shaped, deep fried tortilla. That is an abomination. THIS is the kind of taco I like:



THIS is the kind of meat that should go on it (it is NOT ground):



The tortillas are corn but unfried. Two of them are layed flat and the meat (such as carnitas, my favorite, but also possibly chili verde, chicken or whatever), salsa, a few jalapenos if desired and some cilatro are ladeled onto them. You pick the thing up and fold it into the U-shape in your hand to eat.

If you go into almost any non-chain taqueria in San Francisco and order a taco, this is what you get and they are both cheap and good.

Other opinions?

#1

51 Replies Related Threads

    LegalLady
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 14:39:50 (permalink)
    WOW, that is the best looking Taco I have seen in a looooooong time. thanks BT

    The Lady
    #2
    Pancho
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 14:58:31 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    At places like Taco Bell, a taco is ground meat slopped into a U-shaped, deep fried tortilla. That is an abomination. THIS is the kind of taco I like:



    THIS is the kind of meat that should go on it (it is NOT ground):



    The tortillas are corn but unfried. Two of them are layed flat and the meat (such as carnitas, my favorite, but also possibly chili verde, chicken or whatever), salsa, a few jalapenos if desired and some cilatro are ladeled onto them. You pick the thing up and fold it into the U-shape in your hand to eat.

    If you go into almost any non-chain taqueria in San Francisco and order a taco, this is what you get and they are both cheap and good.

    Other opinions?


    Yes. I like mine just like that with either barbacoa or lengua. We have a place here called LaBamba that serves them like your pic. Later....gotta go get a taco! Pancho
    #3
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 17:06:17 (permalink)
    There is much to be said for the U-shaped, fried-tortilla taco as weel, which is what you'll find nestled on the side of a combo platter of any decent New Mexican or Tex-Mex place. It's miles above anything you'll find at a Taco Bell, and most certainly NOT an abomination. They're simply a different style than the traditional Mexican taco as pictured above. There's room for both.
    #4
    UncleVic
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 18:17:28 (permalink)
    Ya hit it right on the spot BT! That item taco bell serves and refrences as a taco don't even come close! Luckily I have a few spots in town where I can enjoy what you have pictured!
    #5
    tiki
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 19:43:09 (permalink)
    Looks right to me BT!!!!!and i finallly found them here in Oklahoma!!!
    #6
    mr chips
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 20:41:45 (permalink)
    BT, come to Portland. There is an abundance of places that serve these tacos. My favorite Burrito Loco.
    #7
    carlton pierre
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 20:47:10 (permalink)
    Any real Mexican place I've been the tacos all look like that. White corn tortillas. I love the cilantro flavor as well.
    #8
    Theedge
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 22:11:47 (permalink)
    I make that at home but call it a fajita, what is a fajita?
    #9
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 22:14:16 (permalink)
    For one thing, fajitas are on white flour tortillas, not corn.
    #10
    Theedge
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/18 22:22:58 (permalink)
    Well, there we have it.
    #11
    BT
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/19 00:27:10 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

    There is much to be said for the U-shaped, fried-tortilla taco as weel, which is what you'll find nestled on the side of a combo platter of any decent New Mexican or Tex-Mex place. It's miles above anything you'll find at a Taco Bell, and most certainly NOT an abomination. They're simply a different style than the traditional Mexican taco as pictured above. There's room for both.


    Yeah, they tend to serve 'em that way in Arizona too (the example below is from Rosa's in Tucson) and most of 'em are edible since they don't use ground meat (usually it's stewed beef, especially carne seca) but I greatly prefer the flat fold-it-yourself variety--with pork (carnitas or "el pastor").

    #12
    rwarn17588
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/19 00:45:13 (permalink)
    <start clip>

    Looks right to me BT!!!!!and i finallly found them here in Oklahoma!!!

    <end clip>

    Where can such a taco be found in Oklahoma, Tiki? If it's close to Tulsa, I'm there.
    #13
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/19 14:49:09 (permalink)
    *shrug* Heck, I greatly prefer green chile stew, but I don't say that chili con carne is an abomination. They're just two different things.

    Incidentally, for New England-bound folk: the tacos al pastor at Anna's Tacqueria (which are the traditional Mexican style) are outstanding, and at $1.25 each, you can eat them until you're sick.
    #14
    1bbqboy
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/19 15:48:03 (permalink)
    http://www.houstonpress.com/special/texmex.html
    Edge, part 3 explains fajitas.
    #15
    BT
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/19 19:38:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

    *shrug* Heck, I greatly prefer green chile stew, but I don't say that chili con carne is an abomination. They're just two different things.


    How about when they make your chile con carne with hamburger meat (not even the "chile grind" available in Texas) and "chile powder"? My "abomination" comment referred not just to the unfried tortillas but also to the filling and I stick by it. Might as well buy yourself some hamburger and a package of that synthetic "taco filling" mix another of my investments (McCormick) makes and whip yourself some "authentic" tacos according to the package instructions.
    #16
    plantdetective
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 12:01:29 (permalink)
    Here is some of the best Mexican in Tulsa, they have great tacos.

    Cancun International Restaurant
    705 S Lewis Ave
    Tulsa, OK 74104-3329
    (918) 583-8089

    Smallish place, closed on Weds. I believe. Very, Very, Very busy at lunch.

    Have a great time. Clelia the owner is a wonderful person.

    We go everytime we get back to Tulsa.
    #17
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 12:24:40 (permalink)
    Here in Fresno we have a local taco that features, meat, shredded cabbage, and diced potatoes in the soft corn tortillas.. we also have "rolled tacos", and the one pictured above known as a "Rico" taco..
    #18
    Salustra
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 12:54:15 (permalink)
    BT - I was going to say that looked like a really good tostada, until I read that the tortilla was NOT fried. Don't care what it's called, really. It looks muy delicioso! The soft, corn tortilla taco you describe is referred to here as "street tacos".
    #19
    tiki
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 13:37:25 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by plantdetective

    Here is some of the best Mexican in Tulsa, they have great tacos.

    Cancun International Restaurant
    705 S Lewis Ave
    Tulsa, OK 74104-3329
    (918) 583-8089

    Smallish place, closed on Weds. I believe. Very, Very, Very busy at lunch.

    Have a great time. Clelia the owner is a wonderful person.

    We go everytime we get back to Tulsa.


    Cool---thanks---its on my list for lunch next trip to Tulsa!
    #20
    cedwin
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 15:43:37 (permalink)
    I think a real Mexican taco is a corn tortilla filled with some meat or stew (guisado), and then covered with chopped onions and cilantro and possibly salsa. I've learned from some experience that these are by far the best and truest Mexican "fast food". I won't eat burritos at the real Mexican places any longer, because burritos are a Southwestern variant of the filled tortilla concept and not really Mexican (especially the rice-filled stuff you see at the suburban American places like Chipotle).
    #21
    Scott -- DFW
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 18:18:03 (permalink)
    Count me a fan of any and all good tacos.

    I like the style of taco that's probably the most common in taquerias: two tortillas topped with a meat and garnished with cilantro, onion, and/or radish (with salsa and lime wedges on the side). (This is a taco de cecina from Juanita's in Dallas.)

    However...

    ...be aware that the reason most taquerias double up the tortillas is that they're using thin, manufactured tortillas that tear and leak easily. When you have thick, freshly made tortillas (such as the ones pictured above with lamb barbacoa at Dallas's Barbacoa Estilo Hidalgo), only one tortilla is necessary. (If your local taqueria doesn't serve freshly made tortillas, consider scouting around a bit more. A taqueria that cares enough to make fresh tortillas is more likely to care about the quality of other things as well, and vice versa.)


    Americanized crispy tacos (such as the awful one above, at Ojeda's in Dallas) fall into a few common traps. First, they often resort to preformed taco shells. Second, they often use poor, mealy ground beef with generic seasoning. There's nothing un-Mexican about ground beef. Carne molido and picadillo are fairly common as fillings in Mexico. But they usually have (a) better texture than American ground beef taco fillings and (b) a much more interesting flavor profile (often incorporating other ingredients, such as potato, nuts, dried fruit, et al.). Third, Americanized crispy tacos are usually heaped with low-grade filler--bland iceberg lettuce, unripe tomato, and poor cheese. There are, however, some places that steer clear of such problems and have excellent crispy tacos. They're few and far between, but well worth tracking down.


    And don't forget the San Antonio-style "puffy taco" (such as these, from Henry's in SA).

    And then there are tacos de canasta, tacos dorados (the Mexican progenitor of the Americanized crispy taco), and probably dozens of other types across Mexico.

    A good taco is a good taco, regardless of the style or tradition. And "authenticity" (which is hard to get a handle on anyway) is no substitute for great taste.

    Scott
    #22
    Lucky Bishop
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 18:48:47 (permalink)
    Well put, Scott. Falling into the authenticity trap is for fools and poseurs. I'm reminded about Calvin Trillin's comment about the gazpacho served at a party once. He waxed medium eloquent on how it was different from a "true" gazpacho that you would be served on the Iberian peninsula, until he realized that the main way it differed was that it simply tasted better.
    #23
    BT
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 20:12:25 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by cedwin

    I won't eat burritos at the real Mexican places any longer, because burritos are a Southwestern variant of the filled tortilla concept and not really Mexican (especially the rice-filled stuff you see at the suburban American places like Chipotle).


    Well, a discussion of burritos is just a bit OT here, but wortha few bits (or is it bytes) anyway. I have never eaten at Chipotle and haven't any desire to, but what they have immitated and franchised is a staple of every taqueria in NoCal and I want to put in another (I've done it numerous times before) good word for the original. True, it CAN be "rice-filled" but it doesn't have to be. At an independently owned taqueria (i.e. "Roadfood" place) they will make yours however you wish. As a matter of fact, Taqueria La Cumbre, one of the most popular spots here in SF, specializes in the max meat/minimal filling variety. Personally, I like lots of rice and beans and often order a vegetarian burrito full of them (plus avocado, salsa, jalapenos and other good stuff), but if you want yours with nothing but meat any taqueria in town (except maybe Chipotle and the other chains) will happily make it that way. You can, if you wish, be a "real Mexican" purist, but I wouldn't stay away from burritos just because you don't like them stuffed with rice.
    #24
    BT
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 20:30:14 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Lucky Bishop

    Well put, Scott. Falling into the authenticity trap is for fools and poseurs. I'm reminded about Calvin Trillin's comment about the gazpacho served at a party once. He waxed medium eloquent on how it was different from a "true" gazpacho that you would be served on the Iberian peninsula, until he realized that the main way it differed was that it simply tasted better.


    If only the inauthentic were most always "better". But, that's not the case--it is most often a pale imitation of the authentic which is why there is a tendency to trash it. As I suggested just above in my comment about the burrito, I am NOT a "real Mexican" purist, but Scott is completely correct that the pre-fried/ground meat taco is not only inauthentic, it is almost always nasty for the reasons he gave. A little confession: I started this thread because I thought the sight and description of an unfried tortilla/chopped meat taco might be a revelation for the folks here who don't live in an area with a substantial Mexican-American population (where you can get "Mexican" food that is fairly "authentic") and many of them might think they don't really like tacos just because they've never had a good one. By the time this thread runs its course, they'll at least see what makes other people like tacos a lot (I had two for lunch that look very much like the picture I posted at the beginning).
    #25
    UncleVic
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/20 23:24:48 (permalink)
    BT and Scott, you both did justice to this thread! The first time (back in '85) I had a real taco as pictured above I couldnt figure out what the "secret ingredient" was.. ha ha... It was served lightly oiled soft corn shell, with something that tasted like hash browns. I for years thought it was the oil they used to slightly fry the shells in... Turns out it was the potatoes they added to the meat mixture. Who would have figured... After ya have one you're hooked for life!
    #26
    sizz
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/21 01:28:40 (permalink)
    Great Pics ...Doc & Scott
    a taco is a taco is a taco............... call it what you want as long as your camarero serves it up the way you like it... It's all gringo food anyway served here in the USofA or the border towns of Mexico. Forty miles south of the border one would be hard pressed to find a taco that looked like the one BT is showing......... I went to art school at the University of Guanajuato and for the three years I lived in the heart of Mexico I cant remember ever eating a taco. A taco then was a very very peasant food prepared and sold on the streets in neighborhoods you have no business being in. The tacos were usually made of goat meat and fried in some God awful grease on top of a 55 gallon steel drum cutoff. It was also the primary source of "the curse of Montezuma"
    We here in the USofA celebrate the TACO and present it as beautifully as BT just did in his photo here. It's wonderful and the Mexican American community gave it a new life as only we folks here can do. I suspect that the 6 million illegal Mexican in this country really didn't come here for the work they came here for our TACOS.... and profess "con el taco en la mano todos somos hermanos"
    #27
    Jennifer_4
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/21 03:43:44 (permalink)
    Oh heck whatever tastes good... I'm sure many of you would shudder if you saw what goes into some of my homemade "tacos".. or enchiladas, or tamales...
    #28
    Theedge
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/21 08:31:23 (permalink)
    Well had you been in Austin, MN this last weekend you could have had Spam fajitas at the annual Hormel Spam Jam celebration. Jim Belushi came with his band; I guess the guy’s a real prick. Don’t bother trying to make them if you’re not in Austin, wouldn’t taste the same. Something about topography, altitude, longitude & latitude, transit times and the equinox. I laugh at the Iowans across the border when they tell me they make a good Spam fajita. Hell, I’ll never try one. You’re supposed to eat pork chops in Iowa! You just can’t get good quality Spam outside of Austin.

    Just having some fun, I know what you’re saying. They all look delicious. I was thinking about smoking a pork butt and then stewing it in some seasonings, I can imagine some good results. Maybe I’ll take some pics!

    #29
    carlton pierre
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    RE: What IS a taco? 2005/06/21 09:56:12 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by fpczyz

    Great Pics ...Doc & Scott
    a taco is a taco is a taco............... call it what you want as long as your camarero serves it up the way you like it... It's all gringo food anyway served here in the USofA or the border towns of Mexico. Forty miles south of the border one would be hard pressed to find a taco that looked like the one BT is showing......... I went to art school at the University of Guanajuato and for the three years I lived in the heart of Mexico I cant remember ever eating a taco. A taco then was a very very peasant food prepared and sold on the streets in neighborhoods you have no business being in. The tacos were usually made of goat meat and fried in some God awful grease on top of a 55 gallon steel drum cutoff. It was also the primary source of "the curse of Montezuma"
    We here in the USofA celebrate the TACO and present it as beautifully as BT just did in his photo here. It's wonderful and the Mexican American community gave it a new life as only we folks here can do. I suspect that the 6 million illegal Mexican in this country really didn't come here for the work they came here for our TACOS.... and profess "con el taco en la mano todos somos hermanos"



    I had my appendix removed in the hospital at Guanajuato. A most lovely city.
    #30
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