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Plse Help Stop the Arguing About 1 or 2 Tortillas on Mexican Tacqueria Tacos!

I am coming to you today because I need an 'authoritative answer' to the following question, which has been much too much discussed and argued on the Boston board of Chowhound!:

Tacquerias in Mexico>> I know there are just a few of them there : ) but is there a 'norm' when it comes to the use of single or double corn tortillas on a taco? The Mexicans that i have asked in Boston have said that it depends on the tacqueria owner; that there is no "Mexican norm" from state to state or region to region, and neither is found more than the other. What is your experience there, and, if you are Mexican, what do your parents say about their experience where they grew up?

I have a few more questions that I've always wanted to ask. Plse understand that i KNOW mexico is a huge country and tacos are found in a million different variations, just like pizza and hamburgers are- here in Boston.

-- Is it common for some types or preparations of tacos to have 'messy' fillings such that the taco may fall apart as you are eating it?

-- This last question involves how tacos are handmade in Mexico. Here in Boston we have a very good tacqueria called la Verdad. It is the only tacqueria here to have latino women on staff who make their corn tortillas and gorditas. I am fortunate enough to watch these women when i regularly have lunch at this tacqueria. These woman do not use a tortilla press. They take a ball of masa and push it down into a metal ring and then they hand pat/push each one into a finished tortilla. Do most tacquerias in Mexico have hand patted tortillas that they use or are they mostly from tortilla presses? We are lucky that we have a tortilla factory here, Ricardo and Maria's, but the hand patted tortillas at La Verdad are amazing.

Please tell me your experiences there, so I can report back to the Boston board! Thanks so much.

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  1. Although I have been to both the interiro and Baja numerous times I must confess I don't go there for tacos. I do live in Los angeles and don enoy many of the places that sell tacos. The norm for a soft taco is two tortillas. I've never asked why but always assumed it was so they would not break apart while being eaten. The majority of tacos I order are tacos de carne asada or tacos de tripas (small intestine) They are made of tortillas and meat. Anything else is added by you. I hope I've been of some help.

    1. Having spent a considerable ammount of time throughout Mexico (including now finally owning property there) I would have to say I have yet to see a 'norm' regarding the number of tortillas served. I prefer two tortilla tacos but that's me.

      I will also say that the majority of tacos I've seen served at tacqueria's are finished with a tortilla press.

      I'm sure there are as many opinions out there as there are tacquerias!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Strangewine

        I've spent a lot of time in Mexico as well and have to agree with Strangewine. However, I find the number of tortillas per taco are related more to the structure of the tortilla and to the filling used. Machine made corn tortillas are less sturdy so two are generally used. Hand made are a little thicker and can stand up to the fillings a bit better. Meat based tacos (pork, beef, etc) are sturdier and need two tacos, unless using a thicker homemade version.

        So, I guess I'm confirming the "it depends" model.

      2. In Rosarito, Baja Norte, the meat serving taco stands (carne asada/adobada/tripa/cabeza, etc.) in my experitence serve up the contents in double corn tortillas, but if you want flour, it is a single wrap.

        The fish taco stands serve up the contents in single tortillas, whether it is corn or flour.

        The taco stands we prefer make corn and flour tortillas on the spot using saran wrap and a tortilla press.

        1. I have lived in Mexico for 30 years and eaten more tacos than I could possibly count. IMHO, the only correct answer you will get, on this or any Mexico-related question, is "it depends".

          One or two tortilla tacos? It depends on where in the country you are, what you've ordered, what the owner has decreed, and so on and so forth. There's no hard-and-fast rule. Trust me, in a country where even federal government rules vary depending on which official you're talking to, it would be impossible to be one-way-or-the-highway about how many tortillas to a taco.

          I am very curious about the masa in a ring method you say that those women use to make tortillas. I've only ever seen them patted out by hand--a little like clapping--or pressed in a wood or metal tortilla press. Wish you could show us a photo.

          Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

          1 Reply
          1. re: cristina

            cristina, it's just what is called a 'ring mold' in professional kitchens. looks just like a ring made of one strip of thin gauge 1 inch high stainless steel. like a biscuit cutter, but the diameter of a corn tortilla. they push the dough down into it to get a clean edge and then they remver the ring and further flatten the tortilla with their fingers held together. i don't think they pick it up to work it but i will report back if that's wrong. she told me she could make ___(some astonishing number like 200) in an hour. The tortillas go onto the griddle for quick cooking/sealing, and then get stacked and packaged for use throughout the day.

          2. The taquerias I visit in Mexico City vary, though typically only one tortilla with the exception that Tacos al Pastor are ALWAYS served with two (There's a difference in diameter as well, with the latter being about 4 inches rather than 6-9). That said, many of the taquerias I visit serve a plate of filling with tortillas on the side so the choice of one over two is left to the eater. It also seems like they all use a press rather than hand pat them, volume is just way too high. Supposedly, the press didn't exist prior to the revolution in 1910 and abuelitas shun it, though that seems odd to me.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kcward

              It has been many years since I lived in Mexico City, and too many years since my last visit, but I remember one tortilla per taco as the norm also.

              Here in Central California, two or even three per order seems to be more the norm, unfortunately, from my point of view. I prefer one tortilla per taco for two reasons: first, I find that it limits the amount of meat, and personally I find that many places load on way too much meat or sometimes (shudder) rice and beans and lettuce and cheese (I'd rather pay less money and have what I consider to be a proper meat to tortilla ratio; and please don't put anything on my taco except meat, chopped onion, cilantro, and perhaps a bit of salsa, though I'd rather add my own salsa to taste).

              Secondly, perhaps more importantly, I find that if there is more than one tortilla, and they are laid on top of each other on the plate, that the one(s) on the bottom can get steamed and soggy from the heat of the one on top, especially if the tortillas are overloaded with fillings. That problem is avoided when the taqueria uses small tortillas and doesn't overlap them or go overboard on the meat.

              1. re: susancinsf

                We get a standard 2 here in Southern Oregon, but with enough meat to make 2 tacos out of 1.
                Makes for a fulfilling Taco Tuesday. :)
                Onions and cilantro, self serve salsa, sometimes a squeezed on Guac. Never rice and beans in a tao.