||Authentic Mexican Tacos||
The taco is a very old dish, pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors
to Central America. There is anthropological evidence that the indigenous people
living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico ate tacos made of tortillas filled
with small fish. The first encounter of the conquistadors with the taco was in Coyoacán,
a village south of Mexico City. When Hernán Cortés came, it was inhabited by
the native Tepanecas, who had their differences with the Aztecs and actually
welcomed Cortés, allowing him to use the village as headquarters during his conquest
of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). After the Aztec capital was
destroyed, Cortés remained in Coyoacan and made it the first capital of New Spain
from 1521 to 1523.
In it most basic form, the traditional taco consists of a corn or wheat tortilla,
folded around a filling (sliced beef, ground beef, pork, chicken, seafood,
vegetables or even cheese), and garnished with salsa, avocado, guacamole, cilantro,
tomatoes, onions or lettuce. Mexican tacos come in a great variety, making them
the ideal late-night, after-party, street snack.
Typical Mexican tacos include:
Tacos al Pastor (shepherd style) - thin slices of pork seasoned with
adobo seasoning and pineapple, skewered and roasted on a vertical rotisserie,
shaved off as the outside is browned, and made into tacos.
Taco al Pastor.
- Tacos de Carnitas - Carnitas means pulled pork, made by braising pork
in lard for several hours until very tender and juicy, pulled apart by forks.
The taco is served with chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), diced onion,
salsa, guacamole. Carnitas originated in the state of Michoacán west of
- Tacos de Carne Asada - Carne asada means "grilled meat", in this case
grilled and chopped beef, usually flank steak or skirt steak, marinated
in lime juice, salt and seasonings. Carne asada can be served on its own or
as part of other dishes: burritos, gorditas, nachos, quesadillas, or tacos.
Toppings for Tacos de Carne Asada include cebollita, pico de gallo, cilantro
- Tacos de Cochinita Pibil - these originate on the Yucatán Peninsula,
and are traditionally made from a suckling pig marinated in citrus juice,
garlic, and achiote paste, then wrapped
in banana leaves and roasted in a traditional Mayan underground pit called
a "pib". Pork shoulder or pork butt can be substituted. The texture is
similar to pulled pork carnitas, but the taste is very different.
- Tacos de Tinga - Tinga is a stew made with shredded chicken in a delicious
tomato sauce and Chile Chipotle in Adobo sauce.
Tinga comes from the state of Puebla, east of Mexico City. Sautéed onions and
garlic are mixed with chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs, and spices.
Pre-cooked shredded chicken (or sometimes chorizo sausage) is added to
the mixture and simmered.
Taco de Tinga.
- Chorizo tacos consisting of charbroiled pieces of spicy Mexican chorizo sausage.
- Barbacoa tacos - beef, goat or lamb seasoned with dried chilies and spices,
and slow-cooked over an open fire, steamed until tender.
- Tacos Vegetarianos - Roasted slices of opuntia cactus ("prickly pear"),
potatoes, onions, and beans, balkan cheese, topped with fresh parsley and
Here are some external links:
Two styles of tacos originated in the Baja California region:
- Tacos de Camarones - shrimp tacos consisting of sautéed marinated shrimp.
- Tacos de Pescado - fish tacos seasoned fish filet bits crispy fried,
topped with red cabbage and spicy tartar sauce
Us Gringos adopted tacos in two ways:
American hard-shell taco.
- "American tacos" - also called hard-shell tacos made in the United States
and Canada, consist of a hard, U-shaped, crispy taco shell made from a corn
tortilla, filled with ground beef, lettuce, cheddar cheese & salsa. They were
first described in a cookbook called "The good life: New Mexican food" by
Fabiola Cabeza de Vaca Gilbert and published in Santa Fe in 1949. Fried U-shaped
tortillas are sometimes used in Mexico as well, but it is the ground beef
that sets the American taco apart.
- Texas Fajitas - an evolution of the taco,
originating in the Rio Grande Valley region of Texas and northern Mexico.
They are originally cowboy food. During cattle roundups, animals were regularly
butchered to feed the ranch hands. The least desirable throwaway parts such
as the skirt went to the cowboys. They learned to make the
best of the meat by marinading it before grilling it on open fire.
This is known in northern Mexican cuisine as "Arracheras"
(grilled skirt steak). Fajitas have same roots.
The tradition of eating grilled, marinated skirt steak remained confined
to southwestern Texas and relatively obscure for decades.
Fajitas were first commercialized in late 1960s, in Houston, Austin and San Antonio,
but they were still largely unknown outside of Texas until the 1990s.
The first fajitas were indeed called "Tacos al Carbon" (char-grilled tacos).
The big fajita breakthrough came, of all places, from Germany! In 1982,
The Hyatt Regency Austin hotel opened on Barton Springs Road. The hotel restaurant
had a chef de cuisine, a German by the name of George (Georg) Weidmann.
He promptly recognized the commercial potential of the popular local Tex-Mex dish.
He put "sizzling fajitas" on the menu of the Hyatt's La Vista restaurant,
and soon sales of that dish made it the most profitable restaurant in the Hyatt chain.
Two things set fajitas and tacos apart:
first, fajitas are made (traditionally) from marinated skirt
steak, while beef tacos in Mexico can be made from any kind of beef. Second,
while tacos are served in twos or threes, already made by the kitchen,
fajitas are brought to the table on a large metal platter or skillet,
with the condiments and warm tortillas on the side. Each guest makes their
own fajitas from the platter in the center of the table.
Indian tacos (or Navajo tacos) are made using frybread instead of tortillas.
Navajo taco made with frybread.
In 1988, the Taquería Corona opened in New Orleans. It was a small-greasy spoon
on Magazine Street, opened by restaurateur Roberto Méndez, a San Salvador native
who came to the United States as a well-trained chef and manager. He introduced
New Orleans to inexpensive,
authentic Mexican food (minus the fat), served in a small, casual
neighborhood eatery and bar. His second location on Fulton Street in
the Warehouse District was an instant hit with the oil industry lunch crowd from
downtown. The word "taqueria" was unknown in Louisiana before him.
Taquería Corona in New Orleans.
Méndez's secret is using the best and freshes ingredients,
hand-cutting his produce, and using vegetable oils rather than the traditional lard,
as well as trimmed lean meats. His menu always had diversity, expanding
the image of tacos as beign made only with ground beef, tomato, cheese and lettuce.
Taquería Corona has grown since then. It has 3 restaurants in Uptown New Orleans,
Metairie, and Harahan.
Here is a version of the beef tacos just like those served in the Corona.
- 3 lbs rib-eye steak or flank steak, trimmed
- 1/2 cup tequila
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- In a medium bowl, combine tequila, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, juice
of 1 lime, olive oil, salt, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder,
chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika. Whisk until well blended.
- Lay the flank steak in a large glass baking dish. Pour over the steak
in the dish. Turn over once to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap,
and marinate overnight.
- In a small bowl, stir together 1 chopped white onion, cilantro, and
the juice of 1 lime. Set aside to use as a relish for the tacos.
- Prepare charcoal grill, or preheat the oven to 450 deg F (230 deg C).
- Grill the steak 5-10 minutes per side. Remove from grill and slice
diagonally across the grain into thin slices.
- Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet for about a minute on each side
to make them pliable. Tortillas may also be warmed in a microwave oven.
Arrange two or three tortillas on a plate, and lay a generous amount
of beef over them. Top with a sprinkle of the onion relish and
a large spoonful of the pureed salsa. Add as much cheese as you like.
Garnish with lime wedges, and serve.
In 2009 a Mexican-owned restaurant called "Las Adelitas" opened in Prague.
The food tastes genuinely Mexican, the recipes are original Mexican. Like the
Taqueria Corona, their success is based on using fresh original ingredients
and a genuine authentic atmosphere. You can even order your food in Spanish!
Las Adelitas restaurant in Prague.
Today, Las Adelitas has four full-service restaurants around Prague, and two
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Originally written on March 30, 2003; updated on June 1, 2014 & November 17, 2021