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Taco Bar

I am having friends for dinner and will serve a taco bar. I have a few ideas what to serve but welcome more..simple is good

refried beans


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  1. Sour cream mixed with lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro might be additional toppers.

    1. Pico de Gallo!

      1. Tall glasses of Alaskan Amber ...

        1. salsa

          a non-refried bean dish (just open a can of black beans, rinse and drain, and cook with a pinch or two of cumin) not everyone likes all the lard in refried beans

          1 Reply
          1. Diced onion and cilantro is a must. You also need a good salsa. I like this recipe from Rick Bayless if you want to make it from scratch:


            Otherwise, the only canned/jarred salsa I like is Salsa Casera by Herdez.

            1. I've done this many times, it's a fun and easy way to throw an informal dinner party. Plus it works great when you have a mix of vegetarians and carnivores, or adults and kids. To your list I would add:

              Precooked meats appropriate for tacos: carnitas, and/or shredded beef and/or chicken, maybe even tongue (lengua) if you're feeling adventurous.
              A variety of hot sauces.
              Chopped onions.

              And alongside the make-your-own taco bar, a mix-your-own Margarita bar! All you need is a bottle of good tequila, one of Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, and a pitcher of fresh-squeezed lime/lemon juice (I usually use about 3/4 lime to 1/4 lemon.) Add glasses and plenty of ice, a small plate with water and one with kosher salt for those who like the rims salted, and you're good to go.

              9 Replies
                1. re: BobB

                  I'm w/ BobB on this. I do this often as well.
                  Grill up some skirt steak, and chop it up. Ditto with chicken thighs. (have some ground beef for the kids under 8 yrs old)

                  Properly heat stacks of corn tortillas, and keep them in a basket or tortilla warmer. Do NOT heat up a bunch and let them sit there and get cold. Heat up batches as they get used. Cold corn tortillas are horrible. Properly warmed ones are heavenly.

                  Different tortilla types can be something to think of as well. Tostadas are fun and messy.

                  I usually try to have a LOT of salsas to try. Pease don't use any from a jar or can. They are too easy to make from scratch to be using canned stuff, and fresh is 3 to 4 thousand times better. If you have a food processor or a blender, you are 85% done with making homemade salsa.

                  blend some sour cream with some chipotle in adobo with lime juice and cilantro. Ppl will be talking about this sauce all night.

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    Sounds like an excellent sauce, thanks. Will add to my 'recipes' Word doc. :D

                  2. re: BobB

                    Along the precooked meats line, try marinating chicken thighs 'pibil style' in some achiote paste and orange+grapefruit juice and then cooking slowly. If you want breast meat, get a preroasted chicken (unless you are more ambitious).

                    Slow cooked pork shoulder is also good, there are some great suggestions if you search this board. Hope that you have a crock pot.

                    Third the scratch salsa recommendations. I'd go with a fresh salsa verde (serrano/jalapeno chiles, tomatillos, cilantro, white onion), salsa chipotle (tomatillos and canned chipotles in adobo), and salsa roja (dried chile de arbol + tomato based; the Papalote salsa in the recipe section is a good example). The first two are super easy if you have any kind of blender, the last must be made ahead (chiles should be deseeded, toasted, simmered in water to soften, blended, strained). If you make a day in advance, the flavors will come together and you can tweak the heat.

                    Just my bias toward traditional, but Please put the sour cream, guacamole, olives, lettuce on the Gringo Burrito table with the flour tortillas - they do Not belong in a taco. Well, maybe crema on the chorizo+potato taco :-), haven't tried gordeaux's sauce yet.

                    I have had some good fried veggie (cooked zucchini, potato or sauteed mushroom and cheese) tacos at a local Mexican restaurant; just put the diced filling and cheese on a corn tortilla, heat in a covered skillet until slightly melted, then fold in half and pan fry until just crispy. Go with a mix of cotija/parmesan and jack cheese, Never cheddar.

                    1. re: DiveFan

                      Definitely more authentic. Thanks.
                      /gringo lol

                      1. re: DiveFan

                        Bless you divefan! Try making your own al pastor for something unique.

                        1. re: DiveFan

                          After leaving the house I decided my judgment about the 'gringo' ingredients might have been a little harsh. There may be obscure (to me) regional specialities that might use some of these ingredients, but I haven't come across them here in SoCal. At any rate, I'm on a mission to steer folks toward better, more traditional recipes. However, if your friends really prefer gringo style tacos, I have a posted recipe :-).

                          Gringo taco: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11839
                          Achiote paste: http://www.chow.com/recipes/12126 BTW nothing wrong with store bought.
                          Salsa chipotle: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11456
                          Salsa verde: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11196

                          I also remembered that another good salsa combo is roasted poblano chiles, tomato, and a little white onion all finely diced or blended - highly flavorful yet Mild chile heat. Canned anaheims (green chiles) could probably be substituted.

                          I'll amplify gordeaux by saying Puleeze never, ever use those cardboard taco 'shells' - the box they come in tastes better. Frying a few fresh ones for crispy tacos is a snap.

                          A thought for an easy side dish - peel a jicama, slice into 1 cm sticks and toss with chile powder and lime juice.

                          passadumkeg, I really need to find a good al pastor recipe, but I haven't figured out yet how to make my oven spin around a vertical spit....

                            1. I would have a chorizo cooked with potatoes option.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                Or chorizo w/ scrambled egg. Chicken w/ green chiles.

                              2. fish fillets grilled or breaded & baked for fish taco options

                                1. Bowls with radishes (leave on some green) and mexican green onion - larger than regular onion. The onion is best served grilled. Also, a bowl of lime wedges

                                  1. Oh, almost forgot! How about pickled jalapeno, carrot and onion mix. You can usually find this canned