Tacos… ah, tacos. Just saying it makes me hungry and happy all at the same time. Is there anything better than a taco? You’re thinking about it now aren’t you? And you’re having trouble, huh? Everyone loves a good taco, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who does not. And because of our love of tacos, October 4th has been named National Taco Day. So let’s go through a little run down about everything taco.
- Thought to be a Mexican dish, tacos actually originated in the culture of the indigenous people of what is now Mexico, before Spanish influence
- The word ‘Taco’ means ‘plug’ or ‘wad’, used to fill a hole. So use go ahead and use a taco to plug your pie-hole, it’s what it’s for!
- The tacos we are familiar with from American restaurants (hard & soft shell, lettuce, cheese, ground beef) are not traditional tacos, but rather a variation popularized by cookbooks and the easily mass produced hard taco shell.
- Navajo Tacos, while having a terribly sad origin, are exceptionally delicious.
Places to Get a Taco in The Midwest, ranked.
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – Fuzzy’s ‘Baja Tacos’ are somewhere between Americanized and traditional tacos with soft corn tortilla topped with garlic sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro, feta and a plethora of choices in the meats department. I really enjoy their shredded pork and shredded beef but what really sets them a part in my book is crawfish. The garlic sauce is icing on the cake.
Taco Bell – I know, some of you are groaning that Taco Bell made it so high in my list, but I really can’t deny how tasty I find their food. I eat there at least one a week, and I really only eat out about once a week! And I’ll be honest, I usually don’t get tacos from Taco Bell (unless I’m strapped for cash), I usually grab a chalupa and a quesorito, but they do have this sweet little invention called a ‘Cheesy Gordita Crunch’. It is basically a hard shell taco wrapped in melted cheese and flatbread, with a (un)healthy smathering of their Baja sauce. If that doesn’t start your motor, their plain hard and soft tacos are good as well. (don’t forget the fire sauce!)
Del Taco – Del Taco isn’t in my home state of Nebraska, but I finally encountered the famed restaurant while on tour a couple summers ago in Texas and New Mexico. And when you’re on tour tasty food and a low price is what you’re looking for and Del Taco was a bullseye with Double Beef Classic and Grilled Chicken Tacos (oh, that heavenly secret sauce) both on the ‘Buck and Under’ Menu. I don’t see it on their current menu, but I recall getting something called ‘Chipotle Beef Taco’ or something like that. Boy was it good. Their latest menu features some tacos that closely resemble traditional tacos. But I’ll have to go out of state to get them.
Taco John’s – I may take Taco John’s for granted since I grew up with the chain always in my backyard, but their place towards the bottom of this list does NOT mean they are bad! I still really love Taco John’s, they are definitely on par with Del Taco. (maybe even better, it’s just that Del Taco is more of a rarity for me) They are most famous for their ‘potato oles’, which I think may be seasoned with something addictive, but a nice hard or soft taco from TJ’s packs quite a flavor punch compared to some others. Slightly more pricey than Bell or Del, but you get big portions and a lot of flavor.
Qdoba – I love Qdoba burritos, I always get a burrito when I go to Qdoba and that’s the only reason they are so low on this list. Because Qdoba is amazing, just not so much in the taco department as they are in the burrito department. But they do serve tacos, with the same delectable options!
Chipotle – When I first got Chipotle, I liked it. Then I had Qdoba. Then I went back to Chipotle. Not so good after having Qdoba. Just like Qdoba, Chipotle is more well known for their burritos, but tacos are available as well. No queso? Come on Chipotle, it’s 2015!
Amigos – This is the only restaurant chain on the list that I would not say that I recommend. It’s not awful, but it’s not… good. Especially as far as tacos are concerned. If I were to make a slogan for Amigos it would be this, ‘Mexican Food, Without All The Flavor’. Their crisp meat burritos and nachos are ok, but we’re talking about tacos here! Their tacos are so bland, you have to drown them in salsa and jalapenos just to get some sort of flavor. And their salsa… no thanks. But at least they have nacho cheese (I’m looking at you, Chipotle)
Get To the Roots
A nice Americanized taco from a restaurant chain can be a fantastic eating experience. But I highly recommend going out into the area and finding a local restaurant or food truck with traditional tacos. Asada, carnitas, lengua, pastor, chorizo… whatever you can find. Soft corn tortillas, meat, onions, cilantro, lime, maybe some hot sauce. You will be happy you did.
And if you ever get a chance, at a pow-wow, fair or tourist spot, try a Navajo Taco!
What did we get right? What did we get wrong? What did we miss? Let’s get this taco convo rolling, voice your opinion in the comments.