Podcast – Out to Lunch: Tacos beyond the box and Bell
February 7th, 2011
03:45 PM ET
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Many of us grew up eating out-of-the-Ortega-box shells and spent our pocket change on cheapo "seasoned beef" at Taco Bell. We never dreamed that there was a whole flavor world beyond neon cheese and shredded iceberg lettuce.

Taco trucks and blogs abound around the country, but unless you take a step away from the chains, you're never going to know what deliciousness awaits just over the border.

There's plenty more to chew on, but it all starts with the first bite. Come out to lunch with Eatocracy.

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And yes, I do assert that Tacos Nuevo Mexico is my favorite taqueria in all the land - and Top Chef's Bryan Voltaggio didn't hate it one bit. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it - but also, school me on your favorites. We'll share a list in a future post.

soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. soleada

    My boyfriend & his family cook the -best- food.. I love Tacos al pastor with El Milagro tortillas (screw reg corn tortillas. El Milagro tortillas are much tastier w less sodium & calories).. My bf has a ranch in Mexico w his parents, & so when someone travels up to texas from Pachuca, they bring alomg several lbs of homemade queso... Sooo yummy!

    February 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  2. Steve

    I've had tacos from just about everywhere – Taco Bell, Del Taco, Taco Town, Taco Gringo, Taco Del Mar, Taco John's, Taco Tico, Casa Bonita, Chipotle, Qdoba, El Pollo Loco, Pink Taco at Hard Rock Las Vegas, Chevy's, La Hacienda, Mexican Villa, and probably a hundred other places I can't remember. They all pretty much taste the same.

    February 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  3. stephiesmiles

    Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte, NC has the best tuna taco ever!

    February 8, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  4. Cameron

    Lots of opinions here, and some seriously... misinformed people. Who cares about where a taco is made?? As if only the south has good Mexican food. And as far as "authentic", come on! Authentic is simply making food the way it was originally made – and if you're trying to tell me that tacos are only made one way by all 107 million people in Mexico, you're an idiot. There are 1,000 versions of "authentic" Mexican dishes. And immigrants brought those recipes with them when they moved to the US. If you've been living under a rock for your entire life, here's a fact for you: there are millions of former Mexicans living here, and lots of them have opened restaurants. You can find "authentic" Mexican food throughout the US now – it has a lot more to do with using ingredients you'd find in Mexico than anything else. We have a thriving Mexican community in St. Paul MN, if you can believe it, and some awesome Mexican food. One of the better places for tacos is Senor Wong, in downtown St. Paul – who make their pollo asada fresh on demand, pork belly tacos (carnitas), fresh, on-demand guacamole with pico de gallo and lime juice, fried tortillas, etc. Great tacos! And one final thought – even though you scoff at those "Americanized" Mexican places – hey, they introduce people to dishes they might not have tried before, and when they actually make it to really good, made-fresh Mexican food, they'll be even happier.

    February 8, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Del

      Well said Cameron, I have found incredible Mexican food in some of the most obscure places, some people are just not daring.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  5. Rebecca O.

    I'm a New Mexican ex-pat living in NY. Tacos Nuevo Mexico was a very welcome discovery when I first moved here.

    Also, Kat: GO. TO. OAXACA. (I like the Smith street one best.)

    February 8, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  6. Sandy Eggo

    Best mexican ever is in S. California -@ Cantina Mayahuel – No question about it!!

    February 8, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  7. denver taco eater

    fish tacos,beef taco,shrimp taco,taco soup,taco gumbo,tacos and rice,tacos and gumbo,bubba gump tacos

    February 8, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  8. Shmeat tacos

    These are shmeat tacos. nasty. Exactly what noshmeat.com is about

    February 8, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  9. wisdomVSknowledge

    Seriously... Tacos getting this much attention and they aren't even crunchy! From the photos I'd say it wasn't a taco at all, perhaps it should be called poo-in-pocket.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  10. Lorenzo

    I hate podcasts. How about a well-written article? Remember those? Eatocracy sucks.

    February 8, 2011 at 8:13 am |
  11. DJ

    The only tacos I truly enjoy are my homemade tacos, both mexican style and fish tacos. I have yet to find anyone elses that comes close.

    February 8, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • DJ Jr @DJ

      I second that!

      February 8, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  12. buggy

    The fly on the plate likes it...

    February 8, 2011 at 7:27 am |
  13. TacoGenius

    The real test is not whether they are sold in New York or Mexico, but how much they cost. Real tacos cost less than $1 from a roadside table or a meat wagon, but I'm guessing the tacos in the photo are easily $15-$20 per plate. That is what makes them not real. That and real tacos don't have stuff all over them. I love guac and have the best recipe, but Mexican food doesn't include all of the toppings us gringos have become accustomed to.

    February 8, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  14. jkex

    These comments about authentic ingredients remind me of an old gent I met years ago. He talked about moving to Mexico during the depression because of no work in LA. Ended up in a small poor village where the usual fare was a large grasshopper folded into a tortilla typically still alive. He decided then and there that LA wasn't so bad after all.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • Lorenzo

      The tortilla was still alive?! Barbaric.

      February 8, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  15. Jonathan

    Love the article, thanks! I'm in Ohio and I'm sure there are some lovely culinary delights I have yet to find, however I have had some really delicious Mexican food from Banditos and LaCharitta. Probably the most authentic if I had to guess is a little place on Findlay, Ohio Main St. called Mi-Tequilla. They come up with some lovely takes on Mexican delights. Thanks again!

    February 8, 2011 at 5:31 am |
  16. El Pollo Loco Toco Rocco

    Photo caption. "Excuse me, waitress? Someone seems to have thrown up in my napkins."

    February 8, 2011 at 4:54 am |
  17. Mexfoodlover

    Oh and in the picture of those tacos it looks like chunks of ham with that fake creamy Guacamole and apples on the side????? Not my idea of Mexican food.

    February 8, 2011 at 4:34 am |
    • SoCalGirl619

      Ur a MexFoodLover??? R u serious??? Those are RADISHES menso/a...

      February 8, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Mexfoodlover

    Forget the taco debate I love Chile rellenos and I am always looking for the best

    February 8, 2011 at 4:31 am |
  19. Krozar

    Street tacos are serious business in Texas. If you get sick then your system is just a wuss.

    February 8, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  20. thatbrutha

    Man those look good, like pull over off the fWY good. Too bad some of these Ortega loving folks just don't know.

    February 8, 2011 at 2:45 am |
  21. manifesto

    I drive out of my way for the tacos at La Victoria in San Jose. I can't get enough of that orange sauce.

    February 8, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  22. USA

    Not sure Ms. Obama would approve of this menu. She is the example of a slim and trim, healthy body.

    February 8, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  23. Real Deal

    Those aren't tacos. They look more like rolled up dirty diapers. Now I believe they will eat just about anything in NYC.

    February 8, 2011 at 12:51 am |
  24. Jzero

    Wow, it almost looks as though there is a fly right under the center taco? Or am I seeing things..

    February 8, 2011 at 12:45 am |
  25. SoCalGirl619

    Grew up in So Cal...traveled extensively thoughout Mexico...Chon y Chanos in Mexico City is taco ecstasy...in San Diego, Tacos El Gordo are almost as good as the REAL mexican street tacos...best tacos in Tijuana are up by the airport (grilled New York strip sliced razon thin)...amazing!!! Charlotte NC...go to La Lupita Market on No. Tryon and buy a lb of carnitas, they make fresh tortillas and salsa...havent tasted anything better this side of the Miss. This makes me miss home!!!

    February 8, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • SoCalGirl619

      BTW real tacos are never served with LEMONs! Its gotta be a limes... ;D

      February 8, 2011 at 12:11 am |
  26. TacosInElPaso

    All i know is if u want amazing and cheap Rolled tacos.... chicos tacos in el paso texas... is...... the place u wanna be... mmm...

    February 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  27. run run

    omg, this woman repeats herself incessantly. her breathe-y, giggly, multi-octave voice gave me shingles.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Hey, sorry - that's the voice I was dealt.

      February 8, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  28. MT Miner

    I just have a simple suggestion for the US taco crowd, just go to heartland mexico, sample tacos from 10 towns, then post here........

    February 7, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  29. LemonMeister

    So many Taco replies so little time...Taco Bell skills? Is this an oxymoron? Melissa Lora the outspoken CFO of Taco Bell has the skill necessary to avoid taking care of customer complaints. There is no point of contact at Taco Bell’s website for any of the Board Members of the Bell or their parent Yum Brands, how would you report a taco containing 35% b33f? Lora is also a Board member at KB Home both companies don’t deal with your complaints they ignore you. The FTC Federal Trade Commission Consent order is just laughed at by KB Home Board Members. http://www.akbhomesucks.com Are we still bashin Taco Bell?

    February 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  30. oFace Killah

    most of us DID NOT grow up eating out-of-the-Ortega-box shells with neon cheese and shredded iceberg lettuce. Those are NOT tacos. Please do not call that Mexican food. Those whatever the fucks those are in the pic look horrible also.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  31. Jason T

    around N. Syracuse, NY Ponchito's Taqueria is THE place to get the best mexican food, They absolutely rock!

    February 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
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