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Jul 25, 2008 10:33 AM

Tacos Al Vapor /Mineros / De Canasta / Sudados Plea SD

Has anyone came across any of these words in menus around the county? I am desperate for these tacos...

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  1. I know that this is not what you want to hear, but the former El Palenque in PB (now Costa Brava) used to serve Tacos Sudados filled with Tinga Poblana and boy, were they good!Unfortunately, I haven't found tacos sudados anywhere else in San Diego. There are no DF style restaurants in San Diego, Kare, that I know of.

    Tinga is easy to make, add a steamer and, voila, sudados!

    1. I miss the taco al vapor place I used to go on 3rd. Thanks for reminding me.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        Enlighten us, Taco Snobs. Tell us what we've been missing! What's in an Al Vapor, Mineros, De Canasta, and Sudados?

        1. re: pickypicky

          They're steamed. Hard to find here because of health dept. regulations, but very common in TJ. The guy who made them in CV got around that by holding the meat separately, and cooking the tortilla at the time of ordering, then assembling the ingredients. Cheating, but effective.

          1. re: pickypicky

            All a variation on a theme.

            Al Vapor = steamed

            Tacos Mineros = Miner tacos, usually wrapped in cloth and steamed to preserve it for long periods of time as was necessity in mining towns. They have these at Mama Testas which can work in a pinch.

            De Canasta = Basket (I think) tacos which are similar to miner tacos in that they are wrapped in cloth in steamed.

            Sudado = sweated tacos, which comes from the condensation one gets when steaming them.

            You'd need a real Taco Snob to tell you the subtle differences as I am under the impression these terms can be used interchangeably and are six of one, half dozen of the other.

            Actually, a half dozen of these sounds good about now.

            In the end I'll defer to KR's description as he's our resident expert on tacos and where he eats, I'll follow.

            1. re: pickypicky

              Hmmm....doesn't really have much to do with being a snob about tacos.

              Tacos are one of the most diverse and ubiquitous street foods in the world. They come in a dizzying array of fillings and varieties. Generally, tacos fall into the classification of "antojitos", or little bites. Sorta kinda like a tapa in that they are little tidbits designed to take the edge off of your hunger during the day, or as a quick bite to tide you over to a bigger meal. They may be tiny little affairs that you can polish off in 2 or 3 bites, or they may be larger and more filling. It depends on where you are, who the vendor is, and what the local customs dictate.

              Geographically, Mexico is a very large country - nearly as large as the U.S. in area - with 26 separate states. Each state, it seems, has it's own take on the taco depending upon what is available in the local regions. Fillings range from bugs (better than you think) to vegetables of every kind, to assorted meats (no part of the animal is wasted) fish and dairy (tacos de requeson are great). Tacos are regionally and culturally diversion as Mexico is, and that's pretty diverse.

              The tacos minero that KR mentioned are from the mining country around Guanajuato and Zacatecas. Wives would make tacos for their husbands to take to work, wrap them in napkins and pack them in the lunch box or pail. The napkin kept enough of the heat in to keep them warm, but it also developed moisture which softened the tortilla giving it a rather steamed effect. The owner of Mama Testa is from Guanajuato and has these on the menu. My experience with the tacos mineros at MT is that they're a bit on the heavy side because the masa in the tortilla gets a little too leaden with moisture. The flavors okay, but the texture a little on the heavy side.

              Tacos de canasta are similar in that the tacos steam in the basket in which they are kept. MT also has (or has had) tacos de canasta, which I have not had but understand are fairly respectable.

              The rolled tacos with which San Diegans have a long standing love affair are simply another version of the taco. You'll find variations in Mexico called tacos dorado, taquito, or occasionally flautas (though these are usually with flour tortillas). One of the most unique versions of the rolled taco is Mama Testa's Tacos Mojado which translates as wet tacos. And, indeed, they are wet as lengths of the rolled tacos are snipped off and float in a spicy, well flavored broth with good body. It's definitely not one would think of as a taco, but it is a variation.

              What most Americans think of as a taco are anything but. Other than some of the real tourist destinations, I don't think I've ever seen a hard shell taco stuffed with shredded meat, shredded cheese and shredded lettuce. Remember, Taco Bell is the only fast food concept to fail in Mexico because Mexicans didn't recognize their food as anything they knew. Not to mention their own countrymen (and women) could make it better, faster and for less $$$.

              1. re: DiningDiva

                thank you, DD. I used the term "taco snob" affectionately, since I rely on the TS's to suss out these great places for me to try. When I lived back east years ago, and ate at Taco Bell because my children loved it, and because often it was the only Mexican-style food available, we often saw Mexican immigrants eating there. Especially on the road, at Taco Bell's that were few and far between. Funny because all the TB workers were Anglo then. . .

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Do you mean ground beef or shredded meat? I'm pretty sure that most carnitas, lengua, and cabeza tacos are shredded (see: Tacos el Paisa). And I'm sure there's other shredded meats too.

                  1. re: DougOLis

                    I'm sorry if the sentence was unclear. In Mexico I have never seen a taco with shredded meat of any kind that *also* had shredded cheese and shredded lettuce as is served in the U.S. I have seen and eaten many tacos in the U.S. that have been filled with shredded meat, shredded lettuce and shredded cheese. This sentence should not have been applied to the comments regarding Taco Bell.

                  2. re: DiningDiva

                    Regarding... Mineros versus Canasta... I think they are essentially the same thing with different regional names. Mineros I believe are the common term in the city of Guanajuato... while in Leon (the largest city in the state of Guanujuato) they are referred to as Tacos de Canasta. Leon has historically been a major Transportation Hub in the much transited Jalisco to Mexico DF corridor... and a very popular stop for Passenger Busses... one of the most memorable aspects of its Central Bus Depot are the "Marias" carrying baskets of folded, steamed tacos who are often allowed to board on the bus to make a sale (along with the Cold Drinks guy, the little kid with Gum & Candies etc., etc.,)... I think this is how the name came about.

                    Also, in Mexico City... the migrants from Leon and Queretaro do a brisk business in Chapultepec & other weekend hubs selling baskets of folded, steamed tacos... usually called Tacos de Canasta. (The last time I purchased some the going rate for tasty but sparsely filled Bean, Chiles & Chicharron was 10 for $1USD).

              2. Hey Cabron! I was taco hunting this weekend in Southbay. I found tacos Al Vapor, served by a Tijuana based truck operation. I also found some Mariscos Estilo Culican in the same area.

                I didn't get a chance to sample the Al Vapor because I was so stuffed by the time I noticed it on the menu. I will be going back very soon and report, or perhaps you can make the next trip.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Masa Assassin

                  Details Guey! Necessito la pinche direccion! For both the Culichi and tacos al vapor.
                  Where did you eat?
                  I found a place on 1st and Juniper called Papas and tacos that adv. steamed tacos - but I was in the mood for a mortedella sandwich at Mona Lisa.

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Denver has great tacos al vapor. A few locations. The best is a taco truck on Colfax and Xanthia.

                    1. re: denveronaspit

                      Here in Los Angeles there's a great place in the Alameda Swap meet for tacos de canasta al vapor at Tacos Al Atoron.

                2. Mama Testa's has had tacos al vapor since they opened.

                  Mama Testa
                  1417 University Ave Ste A, San Diego, CA 92103