Who makes the best tacos? If you live on social media, you know tomorrow is Taco Tuesday -- but not just any Taco Tuesday. It's doubly special -- because it is also National Taco Day! Thousands will take to twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and more with pictures of their delectable favorites. To help celebrate #TacoTuesday to its fullest, we asked some folks where to find the best tacos.
TACOS IN TEXAS
Torchy's Tacos - Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma
What started as an Austin, Texas food truck, Torchy's Tacos has now spread across Texas as well as to Colorado and Oklahoma - operating in over 30 locations and a trailer park. The tacos have cool names and even cooler combinations of ingredients. There is the standard menu, as well as the "Secret Menu."
"My vote is, has been, and probably will always be Torchys," says Lara Cleboski (@Cleebs) "I have a fondness for food trucks and admire their ability to improve on regular foods like burgers and tacos and totes love the fusion idea... And Torchy's is my favorite." She says.
In particular, her fave standard menu Torchy's Taco is the Crossroads. Brisket, she says, makes it truly Texican. She also likes the Independent -- hand-battered and fried Portobello mushroom strips with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso and avocado with ancho aoili on a flour tortilla.
"And oy, that Hillbilly was sumthin' else!!" says @Cleebs.
I love The Hillbilly, too -- a twist on the Trailer Park (Make it Trashy), the Hillbilly contains a fried chicken tender with chorizo, chopped bacon, green chiles, green chile queso, shredded cheese and pico de gallo. It's served on a flour tortilla with a side of poblano ranch.
Tacos My Way - Clear Lake City, Texas
A new favorite with the NASA crowd, Tacos My Way, offers a welcome change to the burgers and pizza joints near Johnson Space Center.
Joe really likes Tacos My Way. "They just make tasty, simple, no bullsh*t tacos."
He says (and I agree) there are so many fusion and over the top selections these days, that it's just refreshing to have simple, delicious tacos now and then. He's convinced the Hulk sauce has some sort of food crack in it.
Our youngest son Jacob likes their Taco the Town: Marinated fajita chicken, Monterrey Jack cheese and Chorizo. Not that hungry? Tacos My Way offers "Mini Street Tacos" with chicken, steak, carnitas or chicarron.
I love the Vampire Taco - Two corn tortillas with melted cheese in the middle, topped with steak, pico and their own honey chipotle sauce.
Tacos My Way is located at 17068 Saturn Lane. They are open for breakfast and lunch during the week from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Closed Sunday.
Habenero's Taco Co. - Seabrook/Kemah, Texas
Located in Seabrook, Texas, just north of Kemah, Habenero's is a favorite of our oldest, as well as power foodie couple, Chris Davila and Irene Chan.
"Really good tacos," says Chris, with "meats you normally don't get at local taquerias."
Habenero's features Yucatan-style tacos like Cochinita Pibil, their signature pulled pork marinated in bitter orange and annatto, then slow roasted inside banana leaves, and served with brined red onions marinated in lime. Sounds tasty!
Fushion Taco - Downtown, Uptown, Midtown Houston
Fushion Taco's restaurant is a favorite with the Downtown Houston Courthouse crowd with its location at 801 Congress. Blending Asian and South American cuisines, Fushion Taco was created by Julia Sharaby, a native Texan, with over 15 years in the food and beverage industry,and David Grossman, one of Houston's rising star chefs. It opened in July 2013, after enjoying success from its Fushion Taco Truck which hit the streets in 2010. I like their Lamb Keema, BBQ Berkshire Pork and Smoked Brisket tacos. And they deliver!
Or if you fancy a late night taco after a bit of clubbing or a show, they are open Friday and Saturday nights until 11 p.m. Stop by Houston's oldest continuously running wine bar La Carafe afterwards!
dak & bop
For folks in the Museum District/Medical Center, dak & bop is a neighborhood restaurant and bar with a fushion of Asian and Mexican cuisines. Their focus is on Korean fried chicken - twice fried, which gives it a crunchy crust and juicy interior.
dak & bop offers Baos. They aren't tacos per se, but bits of meat and toppings served in a steamed Asian bun. I like the Chicken Bao - boneless Korean fried chicken with citrus slaw, house made pickles and D&B sauce.
dak & Bop is located at 108 Binz at Chenevert, and are open for Lunch and dinner during the work week, and from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Q-shi - Spring, Texas
Chef and winemaker Jonathan Branch says the Pork Belly with Saigon Slaw taco from Q-shi, a barbecue and sushi joint cuisine north of Houston in Spring, is his favorite. And we know he knows his BBQ! Jonathan says he learned how to cook from the hard-working people of the fifth ward.
"Fresh fruit fried pies from Mrs. Clay, Gumbo from Mrs. Viola, grilling from my dad, and a curious palate from my mother," say Jonathan, he then trained at UCLA Culinary Arts Institute in Los Angeles. "Travels to Spain, France, London, Thailand, and other cities throughout the world taught me that our separation is thin," he says.
We had dinner with BBQ gods Jonathan and Q-shi Chef Ray Aker and at a wine blending party last Summer -- the food was, as they say, off the hook! Here's a little sampling from that night from his Q-mami Grill!
Closed Mondays, Q-shi offers dine-in or carry out from 11-am to 9 pm Tuesday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday til 10 p.m. and Sunday until 6 p.m.
Velvet Taco - Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago
Beer Guru Patty Flynn recommends the Cuban Pig at Velvet Taco on Washington Avenue near Rice Military area of Houston. She also likes their Red curry coconut queso with blue corn chips, pickled onion and Thai basil. Their menu is making me hungry just looking at it!
I haven't been there but their website looks like they are fun people! It says
"Okay so our taco may not really change the entire world but it's pretty freakin' great. Maybe it just brings a little happiness to the world, and that changes the world a little every day." Velvet Taco makes their own tortillas, slow roasts their own chicken and corn, making everything from scratch.
Like any serious adult beverage drinkers paradise, Velvet Taco is open LATE - from 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday, Thursday til 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday til 4 a.m.! And you can order online, and saunter in to pick it up. And for dessert? Red Velvet cake, of course!
Cabo Baja Grill - The Woodlands, Texas
I have never been a fan of fish tacos, but for those who love them, like Joe and oldest son Alex, say when you find a good one you are hooked. For Alex, that is Cabo Baja & Mexican Grill in Spring on Sawdust Road.They offer three different seafood tacos - the Pescado or grilled Mahi-mahi; the battered fish Baja; or the Camaron with grilled shrimp and grilled Mozzarella.
Chacho's - San Antonio, Houston
You might say Kristopher "kz262" Hill was born loving tacos. Originally from San Antonio, Kris earned his bachelors degree in Culinary Arts from Trinity University. Kris says he has been eating tacos all his life. "My mom ate them while she was pregnant with me, so you might say I started eating them in the womb." One of his favorite Taco Tuesday haunts is Chacho's, a 24-hour restaurant that prides itself on using the best ingredients, offering low prices and serving their food "on real China."
With beginnings in San Antonio, Chacho's was founded nearly 30 years ago and has spread to Houston, catering to an eclectic group of very loyal customers who can enjoy the entire menu, including breakfast any hour of the day, any day of the week. They even have a two-lane drive through, if you want your taco on the go! In addition to tacos, they have a full Tex-Mex menu with weekday lunch specials and "Mexican Plates" including Kris' favorite:
"Their Chicken Flautas are to die for!" he says.
Mamacita's Restaurant & Cantina - San Antonio, Fredrickburg, Kerrville, San Marcos, New Braunfels
Another of Kris' favorites is Mamacita's off 1-10 in San Antonio. It is a branch of a small chain that started in San Antonio. It seems lots of restaurants use the name Mamacita's included one in Clear Lake, unrelated to the San Antonio chain.
Kris says the restaurant's beautiful decor makes it feel like a dress-up place but jeans and a polo shirt are the usual attire of the crowd. His favorite taco there is Tacos al Carbon one of the restaurants Especialidades de la Casa. Mamacita's is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and on Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m.
Mi Cocina - Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma
Michelle Williams of RockingRedBlog.com says its tough to decide because she loves ALL tacos. She recommends the Tacos "De Brisket," at Mi Cocina in Dallas. Two corn tortillas filled with shredded brisket, oven roasted overnight and topped with Jack Cheese, these are served with Arroz and Sliced Avocado Salad. Mi Concina offers Lunch and Dinner menus as well as Familia Style. They offer a full bar with some specialty margaritas including Cucumber, Jalapeño-Agave, and a layered cocktail called the Dilemma.
La Comida Mexican Kitchen & Cocktails - Addison, Texas
Another favorite of the Rocking Redhead is La Comida, in Village on the Parkway off Belt Line Road in Addison, Texas, between Carrollton and Far North Dallas. They offer a myriad of Tex-Mex favorites
"They have a delicious Mahi Mahi taco," she says!
La Comida is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday until midnight.
CENTRAL COAST CALIFORNIA
While we Texans think we have cornered the market on tacos, there are good tacos to be had elsewhere. One friend is so taco savvy he has an entire blog post and list dedicated to the Best Tacos on the Central Coast! Stephen McConnell, who blogs at eatdrinkCA says he created a separate Taqueria List because people constantly ask him to recommend Central Coast tacos and taquerias get somewhat lost in the general list.
Stephen rates the tacos on the food only, and doesn't rate the establishment as he does others where he takes into consideration Cleanliness, Ambiance, Service, Price, presentation and communication.
"I don't care if cockroaches are falling off the ceiling, the place has blaring music or TVs or it has 10,000 bad YELPs about how rude they are," says Stephen. He also doesn't care how sick you got or how there's nothing vegetarian on the menu. "The only things considered are Marinade, Preparation of Meat, Tortilla Quality, Salsa, and Meat Quality. Nothing else matters."
His food pictures on his blog (and those he posts on Facebook) look pretty awesome. He gives us the taco tour from Salinas to Santa Barbara. Check out his Central Coast Taquerias list here, at eatdrinkCA.
Our good friend, foodie, wine lover, excellent cook and the host of my super secret 50th Birthday party in Oakland, Brix Chicks Liza gives us her faves in a three-way tie. The first two you can get easily: La Taqueria San Francisco on Mission Street, are "ubiquitous, everyone loves those." Another recommendation: JimBoy's Classic Tacos which, Liza says "puts the high in high-low pairings." JimBoy's is an institution, that has roots going back to 1949 at Jimmy's 49er Cafe in Grass Valley. Read more about JimBoy's story on their website: JimBoy's Tacos.
We mentioned a three-way tie. Liza gives us the recipe for her own award-winning Riesling Spiced Tacos with Citrus Fennel Slaw on her website BrixChicks.com Start early, you need to marinate at least 3 hours or overnight.
TACO! TACO! TACO!
Our taco recommendation list keeps growing, and we cannot feature each and every one one or we will never get this up in time for National Taco Day! Some other quick recommendations are...
Joel Quigley who does marketing and communications for a number of great wineries including Handwritten Wines, Jessup Cellars, Humanitas Wines and The Good Life Wine Collective, as well as finds some fabulous up-and-coming musicians, recommends Taco Addiction in Napa.
Our friend Scott, originally from Fargo, North Dakota likes Taco John's: "Potato Oles FTW!"
If you're up in Atascocita, north of Houston, our friend Dave says Mojo's Sports Grille has the taco mojo. In addition to tacos, they have an extensive beer list!
And if you're looking outside the 50-states, Bill Woodrum says, "Best taco I ever had was from Tomate Mexican Fusion & Margarita Bar in Carolina, Puerto Rico." Between the Tacos de Pato (duck tacos) and Tacos de Pescado (his were conch tacos), he says it was a tie. "I couldn't tell you which was my fave."
PAIRING WINE WITH TACOS
I prefer a crisp lager, a hoppy IPA or a Summer Saison with my tacos. If you must have wine, try Riesling (for hot and spicy tacos), Pinot Grigio, Torrontes, Vino Verde, Verdelho or Sauvignon Blanc. Depending on the taco stuffer, you might try a Syrah, Tempranillo or Bonarda. But if it's spicy, watch the alcohol by volume level and keep it lower. High alcohol wines make spicy foods taste spicier!
GET YOUR TACOS!
If you simply cannot find a place to get a great taco where you are, check out Liza's recipe and make them yourself. Or there's always the run for the border. Unless some idiot tries to build a wall.
Happy #TacoTuesday and #NationalTacoDay