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Mar 11, 2008 07:24 AM

Vampire Tacos

Down here in Southern Arizona, there is a new type of taco that seems very popular on both sides of the border. It is called a vampire taco. It seems to get its name from the distinctive treatment of the tortilla. The tortillas (either flour or corn) are griddled until they are charred and dried out and crunchy - looking something like a batwing. The concave side is then covered with a thin layer of melty white cheese and carne asada is loaded on top of that.

When it is served to you, you can then add various toppings like guacamole, salsas, et cetera. The resultant taco combines various tastes and textures. It also makes great finger food because its shape and crunchy stiffness.

I wrote a report about them for the food blog mmm-yoso!!!

Has anyone else ever heard of these? When I googled tacos vampiras or vampire tacos, there seem to be very few mentions of them anywhere, one person having run into them in Matzatlan and another in Cabo. Those locations might indicate that vampire tacos are merely a tourist item, but the taquerias that serve them in my area primarily cater to a Mexican clientele.


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  1. Geez! That taco looks so good. I hope they migrate into Houston. I would love to try one.

    1. I think they're actually called "vampiros".

      2 Replies
      1. re: Humbucker

        Thanks. If you google tacos vampiros, you get a lot more hits, but none in my area. Boo.

        1. re: Humbucker

          Around here, spelled vampira - vampiras. I got almost nothing googling "tacos vampiros", but omitting the quote marks did lead to more results. Haven't had time to read any of the links, yet, but I guess they aren't completely unheard of elsewhere.

        2. I have never purchased a Vampiro or seen one for sale in Mexico... but its sounds close to a very common down home tradition. Whenever... we would cook a meal outdoors (on picnic or camping)... a couple hours after the meal we would use the remaining camp fire warmth to warm up some leftover tortillas until they toasted to a light brown... then we would spread them with leftover salsas & beans etc., we refered to them as tiesas (stiffs), doraditas or tostaditas.... ah the smokey wood flavor & simple but quality garnishes... great memories.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            Thanks for the info. You may be right about the origins.

            Perhaps you have never seen them in Mexico because they seem to be rare anywhere and perhaps they are a recent development in the cuisine. Vampire tacos may also be limited to a fairly small part of that giant and diverse country that is Mexico.

            Exploring tacos vampiros at Google has given me more information (nothing like spelling things correctly to get valid results at Google).

            While many of the links reference tacos eaten in Cabo or Mazatlan, others are found at seemingly authentic taco trucks in California, and one link discusses what is clearly the same taco found at a taqueria in Guadalajara. Most Norte Americanos who encounter vampire tacos probably do so at tourist locations, but that does not mean that they are primarily tourist tacos.

            Taqueria El Chipilon in San Luis, Sonora, where I first had one, is most definitely a Mexican restaurant in every way possible. It is owned and staffed by Mexicans and its clientele is almost entirely Mexican and Mexican-American. So far, I have not spotted a taco vampiro in Yuma. So far.


            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Vampiros are quite common.They have them in TJ at several places, and I just had one in Mazatlan back a few months.Oh, and these weren't in tourist areas and the clientele was Mexican in both places.

              I asked my friend from Tijuana where vampiros were from while I was sharing my generous tacos with him in Mazatlan,he replied while eating and staring blankly straight ahead,"Romania" :)

              I don't the origins of these tacos, but the taco stand in Mazatlan was next to a killer mariscos place during the day, and it seems the vampiros only come out at night.

            2. I was just trying a taqueria I recently stumbled on in town and realized that it served vampiros - except that they were not called that. At this place (Taqueria San Pedro), they were called tacos volcanes. But exactly the same, the desiccated tortilla glazed with melted cheese and topped with asada. More crunch than a standard folded taco, more stable than a tostada, and capable of holding a bunch of toppings. Yum.

              A little googling tells me that volcanes is used elsewhere to describe this type of taco. So if you see that on a menu, it is worth trying.


              5 Replies
              1. re: Ed Dibble

                Ed -

                I was wondering if you could tell me what cutof meat and how its been seasoned when you order 'carne asada' in Yuma. I am wondering if there is a stronger Sonorense effect on the comida [beef cuts, cortes de carne] over there than SD>

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Oddly, asada is usually my least favorite meat choice - even though it is the king of taco fillings here. I don't remember ever ordering it in a real sit-down restaurant. So I am not really qualified, but I have seen/tasted nothing really unusual. Marinades tend to be citrus based, but generally nothing that covers the meat flavor. Sorry I can't say more.

                  What would you expect? What should I look for? I plan to try most of the evening taco stands/trucks around here this winter, so I am interested in your perceptions.

                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    Streetgourmetla is better equipped than I to answer questions about Sonoran Carne Asada or beef in general.

                    It is the most famous state in Mexico for beef production and quality. In Tijuana, there are a whole class of taquerias that focus exclusively on Sonoran beef and I admire them a lot.

                    I have to say too that initially I wasn't very concerned with ordering asada but once I tasted the beef at these places in TJ - my mind completely changed and I have became fanatical.

                    I think you should be looking for skirt steak or falda and a place that advertises its meat as coming from there or some other domestic high quality source. Interested to hear what other kind of flavorings you come across

                2. re: Ed Dibble

                  Hey Ed,
                  This taco is not unique in Mexico, a nice comfort food for late night partiers.I've seen the vampiros around different parts of Mexico, so I assume legitimacy.The volcanes, never heard of it, but will keep a look out.Sometimes an individual restaurant tries to market a product from Mexico to the US comsumers with a made up name, or even a city or region will follow this practice.Other examples are the mission burrito from San Francisco, or the puffy taco from San Antonio, which are confined particular cities and are modified to California and Tex Mex styles respectively.

                  And, there are also regional names for the same dish in Mexico, and some dishes have multiple names within a city or region that could be generational.Kind of like older people in the US asking for a pop(soda).

                  I'm always on the lookout for a local flare, my favorite right now is TJ's quesataco, so use your best judgement on whether or not to try.I feel that I usually can pick the diamond in the rough, but taking one for the team is OK too.

                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                    And now, Taco Bell's introducing a Volcano Taco, that's just a red taco shell with nacho cheese sauce. It's just wrong when they take a culturally significant food item and turn it into a "Value Menu" item.
                    (And yes, because I am weak and prone to fits of uncontrolled consumption, I'll probably end up eating one of them...)

                3. Yum! At first I thought you were talking about this:

                  The red taco shell from Taco Bell.

                  Yours, obviously, look better!