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"Authentic" Taco Definition

ChefRoux Sep 11, 2011 01:17 PM

There have been several posts here with threads discussing the definition of an "authentic" Taco.
IMO, this is the real deal:

2 Corn Tortillas,heated on a flat top grill. Filled with Meat, Poultry or Vegetable mixture.
Topped with chopped fresh Cilantro and Onions. Some type of Salsa or Pico de Gallo
either in the Taco, or on the side. NO MORE OR NO LESS!!


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  1. DiningDiva RE: ChefRoux Sep 11, 2011 07:25 PM

    Tacos come in all sizes, shapes and forms depending upon where in Mexico you are or the person serving you is from. But they are essentially a totrtilla wrapped around a bit of filling and a snack to tide you over until your next meal. Nothing more, nothing less

    1. chris2269 RE: ChefRoux Sep 12, 2011 06:47 AM

      If you are in North County SD I would say Los Tacos for pretty authentic street Tacos. South of North SD ...sorry gas is too expensive right now.:)


      Love me some Cabeza Tacos

      Los Tacos
      2183 Vista Way Ste B9, Oceanside, CA 92054

      1. j
        jayporter RE: ChefRoux Sep 12, 2011 07:16 AM

        "Authentic" is such a peculiar word and concept. I'd love to hear more about what that word means to you, and why you find this kind of taco is authentic in a way, that isn't for, say, a ground beef Taco Bell taco, a queso-taco from Tijuana, or an Ensenada fish taco or Gobernador aren't.

        I'd love to hear more about it from everyone here -- "authentic" is thrown around a lot, though typically on this board with Mexican and certain types of Japanese food, not so much with other cuisines such as pan-Asian fusion cuisine, "molecular gastronomy", farm-to-table, or American diner food. Come to think of it, Mexican cuisine as we know it in San Diego isn't much older (maybe even it's younger) than American diner cuisine, how come authenticity seems to matter at the taco truck, but not at Toby's 19th Hole (breaded calamari, totally noveau!).

        6 Replies
        1. re: jayporter
          cstr RE: jayporter Sep 12, 2011 09:25 AM

          Here's a good example for you; In the Northeast an 'authentic lobster roll' should not have celery in it and it must be on a toasted hot dog roll with the slit on the top. Have fun on this one!

          1. re: cstr
            chris2269 RE: cstr Sep 12, 2011 09:51 AM

            I would say hand made corn tortillas grilled meat and a simple Salsa made to order.

            Best I can do

            1. re: chris2269
              Jase RE: chris2269 Sep 12, 2011 11:58 AM

              Except there are also plenty of "authentic" tacos made with guisados, stewed meat. There's a long tradition of tacos being served with various stewed meats and it doesn't have to be grilled.

              I generally find the word authentic problematic. I prefer traditional. But that's a whole other discussion.

              1. re: Jase
                chris2269 RE: Jase Sep 12, 2011 12:23 PM

                Good point and I do love Pastor: usually spit roasted. My family comes from Italy and we could argue "Authentic Italian" all day ...just saying that's what comes to my mind if someone asks.

                Plus we are talking hundreds (if not thousands) of food evolution and cultures adapting. My Grandmothers Lasagna was probably nothing like my ancestors in Northern Italy which if you do research actually has its origins in Greece

                So like you said "Authentic" is relative.

                1. re: chris2269
                  Barbara76137 RE: chris2269 Oct 11, 2011 07:10 PM

                  Mexican or Italian, both are regional. I've just chimed in on this thread, From north to south, you have so many different foods in Italy. Mexico is no different. I'm used to Mexican from Baja since I was in CA for 25 years. The regions of Mexico all have unique tastes and foods.

                2. re: Jase
                  Wawsanham RE: Jase Oct 11, 2011 01:42 PM

                  So true. Someone could come up with (and maybe has) a "neapolitan taco" with meatballs, cheese and tomato sauce. It wouldn't be traditional, that's for sure. But, it would be quite authentic in its own way.

          2. PotatoHouse RE: ChefRoux Sep 12, 2011 10:15 AM

            The best AUTHENTIC tacos I have ever eaten were from a semi-street vendor in Fontana California. I drove for a trucking company that had a yard there and he would come everyday with fresh ingredients and make burritos and tacos on a gas grill he kept at the yard. You would get three tacos for $1.50 and they were FANTASTIC! I would always get the chicken tacos which he made from boneless skinless chicken breast which he sliced and marinated overnight in lime juice, Cilantro, and a touch of Tequila. he would grill it then chop it and put it on flat grilled 3-1/2 inch corn tortillas with a little shredded lettuce and homemade pico de gaillo. IT WAS HEAVEN!! All of us drivers went into a mob rage when we found out that someone anonymously tipped off the health department and had him shut down, although NO ONE had EVER gotten sick from his food!

            1 Reply
            1. re: PotatoHouse
              Barbara76137 RE: PotatoHouse Oct 11, 2011 07:12 PM

              I'm drooling about your description of those tacos!! Sounds just like I'd want here.

            2. g
              gilintx RE: ChefRoux Sep 12, 2011 10:42 AM

              Asking what an authentic taco is is like asking what an authentic sandwich is. Get a tortilla. Put some stuff in it. There, you have a taco. There's no requirement that there be two tortillas, or even that they be corn, and there's certainly no requirement that you add cilantro, onions, or even salsa. A tu gusto!

              4 Replies
              1. re: gilintx
                raytamsgv RE: gilintx Sep 12, 2011 10:50 AM


                1. re: gilintx
                  Will Owen RE: gilintx Sep 12, 2011 12:45 PM

                  You hit it right down the middle there. What ISN'T "authentic" is obvious: anything you can get at Taco Bell. Which is not to say that I'd refuse to eat seasoned hamburger meat and shredded iceberg lettuce in a crunchy shell, either.

                  I had a doozy the other night, at a street food event: small tortilla, folded and fried crisp, with seasoned ground beef and I think some cheese (it was dark by then). On top of the filling and clamped into the shell was a wedge of dill pickle. And it was goofy good! Had to beg a couple more, just to make sure …

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    Mr Taster RE: Will Owen Sep 13, 2011 09:32 AM

                    But of course there's always the slippery slope argument that Taco Bell is an authentic Ameri--Mex fast food taco.

                    Mr Taster

                  2. re: gilintx
                    monkeyrotica RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 07:28 AM

                    I'm reminded of an old photo from a restaurant in Shanghai circa 1935 where a neon sign offered, "Authentic American Chop Suey." I can't imagine what that was like: Chinese making an Americanized version of something that never existed in China? I'd rather have a tasty Taco Bell Chilicheese Burrito than an authentic bbq iguana taco that tasted like hell.

                  3. luckyfatima RE: ChefRoux Sep 12, 2011 05:44 PM

                    Flour tortillas are not inauthentic. In some regions of norteño cuisine and especially in tejano cuisine, wheat flour tortillas are standard.

                    Like Will Owen's example, the taco dorado or golden fried taco is also 'authentic.'

                    I think there is too much variety to create a formula that defines authenticity. I'd draw the line at stuff like Old El Paso Taco shells.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: luckyfatima
                      inaplasticcup RE: luckyfatima Sep 12, 2011 06:26 PM

                      But they come with a flat bottom and everything...

                      1. re: inaplasticcup
                        oldunc RE: inaplasticcup Sep 12, 2011 06:54 PM

                        Wiener wagons were just a dandy invention, too.

                    2. m
                      MyNameIsTerry RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 01:13 AM

                      In my experience, it would be corn tortillas, some sort of cooked meat (grilled, boiled, braised) perhaps some sliced cabbage, and salsa or pico de gallo. Addition of lettuce, plain tomatoes and onions not in pico are not "authentic." Cheese is also not used nearly as much in the Mexican tacos I've had, but when they do use cheese, it's certainly not cheddar.

                      Having said that, as others have said...authentic or traditional varies based on the area of Mexico you're in. It's a rather large country with a lot of different traditional dishes and ingredients, depending on the area.

                      1. Tripeler RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 03:47 AM

                        Heck, if it tastes good, then that's authentic enough for me. I am certain that Mexican people don't overly concern themselves with what is authentic or not.

                        1. Naco RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 07:17 AM

                          "Authentic" is just an attempt to crystallize the dichotomy between Taco Bell style North American tacos and the sort of thing you tend to find at a taqueria. It's a bit clumsy, but I've yet to see a better word used to this purpose.

                          Perhaps I could suggest another "A" word for the other side of the equation. Tacos agringados.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Naco
                            oldunc RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 07:49 AM


                            1. re: Naco
                              Steve RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 09:21 AM

                              Great response.

                            2. b
                              beevod RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 07:25 AM

                              All "tacos" are authentic.

                              1. monkeyrotica RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 07:30 AM

                                I guess I don't like "authentic" tacos because I ask them to hold the cilantro.

                                And just because it's "authentic" doesn't mean it tastes good. If you don't believe me, you need to try some authentic Icelandic fermented shark.

                                22 Replies
                                1. re: monkeyrotica
                                  Naco RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 08:19 AM

                                  No one is saying that authenticity always correlates with good taste, always and forever, amen.

                                  What they are saying is that there are competing styles with substantial differences. Given that, people are naturally going to fall into preferring one over the other. I see this as an attempt to define styles, nothing more, nothing less. We can acknowledge that the taco agringado is a different beast without looking down upon it.

                                  Pobres tacos agringados. Tan lejos de Diós, y tan cerca de México...

                                  1. re: Naco
                                    Steve RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 09:55 AM

                                    "people are naturally going to fall into preferring one over the other"

                                    To this I would like to add: it is not really a fence around which you are just as likely to fall on one side as the other. Folks who grew up in Mexico are highly unlikely to ever prefer the tacos agringrados, as where Chowhounds from the States who prefer taquerias in Mexico are legion.

                                    Or to put it another way, some chefs have become famous for returning to the States promoting authentic Mexican cuisine. But how many chefs have become famous for promoting Mexican-American cuisine in Mexico? Where are those cookbooks? The idea is absurd.

                                    It's the same with other cuisines as well, whether it is India, Italy. Japan, or Peru. Once you've had a stellar example of the real deal, it's hard to go back.

                                    1. re: Steve
                                      monkeyrotica RE: Steve Sep 13, 2011 10:11 AM

                                      But the "real deal" is always a floating target. Authenticity is always an approximation based on the limitations of the raw materials you have to work with, whether they're the spices or the meats or the knowledge of the preparer. And that authenticity is in a constant state of flux. Take sushi, originally a way of preserving fish that resulted in sour rice, which evolved into fish with rice seasoned with vinegar, which because of American tastes tends to be less vinegary than its authentic Japanese counterpart. I know lots of people who have tried the "real deal" and go back to the American version they grew up on. And when a cuisine reaches critical mass, that's when things get interesting. What are the tacos like in other parts of the world? You can get authentic DOC certified Neapolitan pizzas in Japan, but you can also get (to American tastes) bizarre pizzas with octopus and bonito flakes and godknowswhat.


                                      1. re: monkeyrotica
                                        Naco RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 10:39 AM

                                        "To this I would like to add: it is not really a fence around which you are just as likely to fall on one side as the other."

                                        I can't say I agree with any of this. It is all de gustibus; you are making the mistake of trying to assert the fundamental superiority of one over the other. I like the taqueria style myself, but I'm not about to assert that my personal opinion is anything other than my personal opinion.

                                        1. re: Naco
                                          monkeyrotica RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 10:46 AM

                                          Which is my problem with the "NO MORE, NO LESS" line. Who are we to say what you can or can't put on a taco? I'm no fan of the "stick anything on a bun and call it a 'burger'" school, but people have every right to put kung pao shrimp on a bun, call it a "kung pao shrimp burger," and charge $13 for it.


                                          1. re: Naco
                                            Steve RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 02:34 PM

                                            It is a question of probability. Sure, if you like one over the other, that's your thing, but it is not likely to happen if you grew up eating tacos in Mexico.

                                            1. re: Steve
                                              Naco RE: Steve Sep 14, 2011 04:58 AM

                                              If it's a question of probability, there are a lot more people who didn't grow up in Mexico than did.

                                              1. re: Naco
                                                Steve RE: Naco Sep 14, 2011 06:01 AM

                                                Ah, I was talking about the probability of switching allegiance. Grew up with one, prefer the other. It is highly unlikely you will find a single Mexican who prefers white meat chicken and chedddar tacos. More iceberg lettuce, please!

                                          2. re: monkeyrotica
                                            Naco RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 10:43 AM

                                            Interesting note about sushi. I wish there were more awareness of regional culture in the US. As a Southerner, some well-vinegared sushi would be right up my alley, and might even convince some timid relatives to give the stuff a try. The stuff I get around town certainly has no hint of it.

                                            Is this something that requires a lot of prep time for the rice, or can it be done to order? Are they just pouring a bit of rice on the vinegar?

                                            1. re: Naco
                                              monkeyrotica RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 11:36 AM

                                              The process I was taught by my Japanese mother involves dumping the hot rice into a shallow bamboo tub and gradually adding rice wine vinegar while cooling it with a hand fan. This allows greater absorbsion of the vinegar by the rice. Whenever I encounter the unvinegared sushi rice, I ask the manager about it. Without fail, they say their customers don't like it. Even some of the Japanese-run sushi parlors are cutting back on the vinegared rice as their Japanese customers (who grew up on the stuff) start dying off. But even within Japan, you have a regional variances in how sushi rice is prepared. I imagine you have the same situation with how "authentic" tortillas are grilled, the ratio of lard to masa, etc.

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                Naco RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 11:54 AM

                                                Thanks. I will ask next time I'm out for sushi, but it sounds like it may be too much prep to hold out much hope. On the other hand, we do have a fair number of native Japanese in town.

                                                I note that I wrote "Are they just pouring a bit of rice on the vinegar?" instead of writing "are they just pouring a bit of vinegar on the rice".

                                                I told you we like vinegar!

                                            2. re: monkeyrotica
                                              Steve RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 02:47 PM

                                              When Chowhounds visiting Japan say "yuck I wish I was chowing on that Japanese grub back home in DC", then let me know.

                                              When Japanese people start preferring the Japanese food in the US to Japan, than call the asylum.

                                              1. re: Steve
                                                Mr Taster RE: Steve Sep 13, 2011 03:22 PM

                                                It's not so crazy.

                                                Los Angeles Koreatown is an alternate reality, through-the-looking-glass experience for visiting Koreans, and the food we have here is excellent- certainly on par with what is available in Korea (and in some cases better).

                                                Since the US beef industry is more robust than Korea's, we have an abundance of good to excellent galbi (beef ribs) for very reasonable prices here, which is really a special treat for visitors coming here.

                                                Additionally, I can personally testify that the Korean-prepared beef we regularly eat in Los Angeles was far better than anything we ate during our month in Korea in 2006 (the black pork in Korea was spectacular, though).

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Steve
                                                  E Eto RE: Steve Sep 13, 2011 10:45 PM

                                                  "When Chowhounds visiting Japan say "yuck I wish I was chowing on that Japanese grub back home in DC", then let me know."

                                                  Someone came pretty close to saying just that.

                                                  1. re: E Eto
                                                    Steve RE: E Eto Sep 14, 2011 05:20 AM

                                                    I am not a particular sushi fan, so I'll have to demure on that one. I've had kaiten sushi in Yokohama, and I am not sure I could tell the difference between similar here.

                                                    As far as the rest of Japanese cuisine, I don't think it's a close call.

                                              2. re: Steve
                                                cowboyardee RE: Steve Sep 13, 2011 11:19 AM

                                                'But how many chefs have become famous for promoting Mexican-American cuisine in Mexico? Where are those cookbooks? The idea is absurd.'
                                                This kind of thing happens a lot. The missing element is time (along, maybe, with cultural isolation). Cajun food is viewed as worthwhile and distinct from the food of the cultures that it borrowed from. Italian pasta is popular in parts of East Asia, despite the pasta noodle's origins in that part of the world.

                                                While I have no problem at all with talking about the 'authenticity' of various foods, let's not abuse the word. It's a reference point, not a measure of quality.

                                                1. re: cowboyardee
                                                  monkeyrotica RE: cowboyardee Sep 13, 2011 11:42 AM

                                                  I will agree that "authenticity" is a baseline, albeit an amorphous one depending on who's doing the authentication. But still, if anything, it's educational to have such reference points. Someone who's only known that strange rectangular gradeschool cafeteria product known as "pizza" owes it to his/her self to seek out an authentic Chicago deep dish AND an authentic NY slice AND a DOC approved Neapolitan, if anything to broaden their knowledge of what they like and don't like. For all we know, they might prefer that cafeteria sheet pizza. SOMEBODY must be buying that stuff in the frozen food section.

                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                    cowboyardee RE: monkeyrotica Sep 13, 2011 02:27 PM

                                                    'But still... it's educational to have such reference points. Someone who's only known that strange rectangular gradeschool cafeteria product known as "pizza" owes it to his/her self to seek out an authentic Chicago deep dish AND an authentic NY slice AND a DOC approved Neapolitan, if anything to broaden their knowledge of what they like and don't like.'
                                                    Agreed 100%. Never meant to imply otherwise.

                                                2. re: Steve
                                                  Bkeats RE: Steve Sep 14, 2011 09:17 AM

                                                  So I guess you have not heard the one about the Aussie chef who opened a Michelin starred Thai restaurant in London and then opened a place in Bangkok to elevate Thai cuisine? Its true.


                                                  1. re: Bkeats
                                                    Steve RE: Bkeats Sep 14, 2011 11:00 AM

                                                    mmmm... I can just taste the ambiance and service right now.....

                                                  2. re: Steve
                                                    bbqboy RE: Steve Sep 14, 2011 04:12 PM

                                                    I see plenty of Mexi-Americans here in the Rogue Valley eating at Taco Bell, Hometown Buffet, and Little Cesar's. Does living in America automatically shift one's taste buds

                                                    1. re: Steve
                                                      Wawsanham RE: Steve Oct 11, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                      But, this is not a purely culinary issue of quality. A lot of cultural factors come into play. The American version of X cuisine when and if it is introduced to the country where that cuisine is at home is going to seem strange and have a big disadvantage because of that. I suppose that American-style Mexican food, should not even be refered to as Mexican but under some new name there: "Fronteriza Nortina" or "Calexicana" or "Tex-Mex" or whatever. Let it stand on its own merits as its own kind of cuisine.

                                                3. paulj RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 10:17 AM

                                                  Does it really have to be 2 tortillas? :)

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                    INDIANRIVERFL RE: paulj Sep 13, 2011 11:32 AM

                                                    I am surprised this thread is so short. If it was about bar be que, we would be over a hundred posts by now.

                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                      bbqboy RE: INDIANRIVERFL Sep 13, 2011 11:58 AM

                                                      bbq'ed tacos. now we're talkin' :)

                                                      1. re: bbqboy
                                                        paulj RE: bbqboy Sep 13, 2011 12:26 PM

                                                        Korean bbq tacos ....

                                                        1. re: paulj
                                                          bbqboy RE: paulj Sep 13, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                          yes! with kim chee, then deep fried.

                                                          1. re: bbqboy
                                                            monkeyrotica RE: bbqboy Sep 13, 2011 12:55 PM

                                                            With a spicy chardonnay and a side of lime foam for dippin!

                                                        2. re: bbqboy
                                                          luckyfatima RE: bbqboy Sep 13, 2011 12:47 PM

                                                          barbacoa tacos are my fave!

                                                        3. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                                                          Naco RE: INDIANRIVERFL Sep 13, 2011 12:34 PM

                                                          All I have to say about barbecue is:

                                                          Yankees are wrong.

                                                          I declare the topic closed to further discussion.

                                                          1. re: Naco
                                                            paulj RE: Naco Sep 13, 2011 01:26 PM

                                                            Is this spoken as a Southerner or Mexican (or other Latino)?

                                                            1. re: paulj
                                                              arktos RE: paulj Sep 13, 2011 02:12 PM

                                                              Or maybe as a Red Sox fan??

                                                              1. re: paulj
                                                                Naco RE: paulj Sep 14, 2011 04:59 AM

                                                                People of the global South, unite!

                                                        4. twyst RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                          Im guessing this doesn't qualify!

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: twyst
                                                            PotatoHouse RE: twyst Sep 13, 2011 01:35 PM

                                                            I thought I already called you a heretic for this post....

                                                            ...oh well....


                                                            1. re: twyst
                                                              acgold7 RE: twyst Sep 13, 2011 01:44 PM

                                                              I want one now.

                                                              1. re: twyst
                                                                Jase RE: twyst Sep 13, 2011 01:45 PM

                                                                Authentic fast food tacos.

                                                                1. re: Jase
                                                                  Mr Taster RE: Jase Sep 13, 2011 01:53 PM


                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                    twyst RE: Mr Taster Sep 13, 2011 02:43 PM

                                                                    Your post does not mention the new nacho cheese dorito shelled tacos in the above picture though. Those kick the authenticity level up a few notches!

                                                              2. m
                                                                ML8000 RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 09:18 PM

                                                                Taco is about as definable as sandwich, meaning there's a few must have ingredients like tortilla or bread, filling and condiments/toppings. Everything else is a variable.

                                                                In a similar way you can define a sandwich as one from a vending machine sandwich or a $55 lobster roll with truffles.

                                                                1. paulj RE: ChefRoux Sep 13, 2011 09:47 PM

                                                                  Do you realize that 'taco' in this sense is only a Mexican usage. The general Spanish meaning a plug or wading, or a cylinder that is longer than wide. It can even be used for the heel of a show, especially a long one. Spanish wiki has 13 regional uses.

                                                                  And even focusing on the Mexican dish, there are a number of ways of classifying the variations - how they are prepared (fried, steamed etc), the filling, and regional variations (this is without adding the TexMex hardshell version). Look at both the English and Spanish Wiki articles to get a sense of the range.

                                                                  Americans with limited TexMex experience think of tacos as the hardshell TacoBell variety. Then they learn about soft taco truck tacos, and think that defines the taco, nothing more and nothing else. But that's only sophomore level.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                    monkeyrotica RE: paulj Sep 14, 2011 03:53 AM

                                                                    Thank you for reminding me about Jalisca style "tacos al vapor," the steamed tacos the tacqueria up the street from me serves with tripe, lengua, cabeza, and buche. Definitely not grilled, but still delicious. And authentic.


                                                                  2. arktos RE: ChefRoux Sep 14, 2011 11:26 AM

                                                                    You don't see people in Mexico neurotically obsess or foam-at-the-mouth over 'authentic' U.S. style hot dogs or hamburgers. They take local ingredients and adapt the later to their own taste preferences, just as we have done with tacos. The result is.. hamburguesas. We really need to get over with this snobby silly hipster faddishness about 'authenticity' and just enjoy the damn food without worrying whether it's P.C. or not or if the Taco Police are going to come after you.

                                                                    25 Replies
                                                                    1. re: arktos
                                                                      paulj RE: arktos Sep 14, 2011 12:21 PM

                                                                      How about a Spanish (as in Spain) blog entry about 'autentica hamburguesa neoyorkina'? It's actually a review of a Madrid restaurant - with burgers, fries, jalapeno poppers and brownies.


                                                                      Here's a new one for me: “comida basura”

                                                                      1. re: paulj
                                                                        arktos RE: paulj Sep 14, 2011 12:44 PM

                                                                        Man, those burgers look muy sabroso!!

                                                                      2. re: arktos
                                                                        monkeyrotica RE: arktos Sep 14, 2011 02:01 PM

                                                                        This thread reminds me of a cookbook I picked up, Madhur Jaffrey's "From Curries to Kebabs." It tracks the migration of curry from India and Pakistan to Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, South Africa, the UK, the Caribbean, and all over the world. Each nation has it's own unique, authentic curry that's totally different from every other curry. Trying to describe an "authentic taco" makes about as much sense as finding an "authentic curry." The sheer variety of interpretations is what makes both such enduring foodstuffs. How limiting it must be to fetishize authenticity! You're missing out on so many amazing mashups.

                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                          Steve RE: monkeyrotica Sep 14, 2011 05:09 PM

                                                                          Then please tell me where I can get an an amazing taco 'mashup.' Because I would say the success rate of those tacos is about 1 in a thousand, they have never made me swoon, and they mostly give Mexican food a bad name.

                                                                          A really great Mexican taco is one of the best foods on the planet and cannot be bettered.

                                                                          1. re: Steve
                                                                            arktos RE: Steve Sep 14, 2011 05:25 PM

                                                                            'A really great Mexican taco is one of the best foods on the planet and CANNOT BE BETTERED'

                                                                            Evidently, you've never had an Indian fry-bread taco, especially the ones the Navajo make. So good, they'll eventually kill you.

                                                                            1. re: arktos
                                                                              Steve RE: arktos Sep 14, 2011 06:09 PM

                                                                              I look forward to trying it someday. But I've done a lot of great eating in my time, so to be better than a great taco is hard to imagine.

                                                                            2. re: Steve
                                                                              DiningDiva RE: Steve Sep 14, 2011 06:51 PM

                                                                              Amazing taco mash-ups? Tijuana. Quesotaco. . .Tacos saceados. . .many non-traditional tacos on the border, and they are delicious.

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                Steve RE: DiningDiva Sep 14, 2011 07:17 PM

                                                                                Tacos Salceados. Thanks for pointing that place out to me. I looked it up online, and it sounds fabulous.

                                                                                1. re: Steve
                                                                                  monkeyrotica RE: Steve Sep 15, 2011 03:46 AM

                                                                                  I had a pretty awesome ratatoulle filled taco at Citronelle.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica
                                                                                    Steve RE: monkeyrotica Sep 15, 2011 06:08 AM

                                                                                    Citronelle is excellent. I am not surprised that Michel Richard would be able to make a great taco.

                                                                                    I also once had one of the best papusas at Kinkeads - the dough had pumpkin in it. However, in this case I would not be surprised to find out that there are Salvadorans in the kitchen.

                                                                                    Mostly my response to Naco previously was about Mexican taco vs what you might find generally around the US or Canada (chicken or beef in a chili sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, American cheese, flour tortillas, etc). Yes, someone might prefer the latter, but I don't think from a Chowhound perspective that all things are equal - if so you might see people who grew up with the former switch allegiance to the latter. As where quite a few U.S. Chowhounds discover tacos in Mexico and never look back.

                                                                                    1. re: Steve
                                                                                      Naco RE: Steve Sep 15, 2011 09:02 AM

                                                                                      Personally, I agree with you on the virtues of the taco. The whole reason I got on CH in the first place was because I'd fallen in love with the things. But we should be wary of thinking our opinions are anything more than our opinions. A lot of people obviously like tacos agringados.

                                                                                      1. re: Naco
                                                                                        inaplasticcup RE: Naco Sep 15, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                                        To me, gringo tacos are just another food altogether - like red sauce and cheese Italian. I've had really delicious *bastardized* food that, if I don't take away from the experience by insisting on comparing it to the food that inspired it, stands up quite well on its own.

                                                                                        1. re: inaplasticcup
                                                                                          chris2269 RE: inaplasticcup Sep 15, 2011 09:45 AM

                                                                                          "if I don't take away from the experience by insisting on comparing it to the food that inspired it, stands up quite well on its own."

                                                                                          That is a really good point.

                                                                                      2. re: Steve
                                                                                        Alan Sudo RE: Steve Oct 10, 2011 11:04 PM

                                                                                        Thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans living in San Antonio might disagree. Try a San Antonio puffy taco and you will realize that while we are talking about the same ingredients, we are not talking about the same tacos. http://homesicktexan.blogspot.com/200...

                                                                                        1. re: Alan Sudo
                                                                                          Steve RE: Alan Sudo Oct 11, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                          thanks for linking to that website. It's a great read.

                                                                                          I haven't been there, but from everything I've heard the tacos in San Antonio, New Mexico, and elsewhere in those regions are great. I very much look forward to trying them someday. I would not be surprised if they are as good as any food in the world.

                                                                                          However, I was referring more to the kind of tacos that are generally available throughout the US and Canada.

                                                                                          I fully understand why someone may ask "where can I find puffy tacos like I had in San Antonio", but less so "where can I find the kind of tacos that I grew up with in Cleveland."

                                                                                        2. re: Steve
                                                                                          shanagain RE: Steve Oct 11, 2011 02:15 PM

                                                                                          But food is like language, it has a measure of fluidity. Fish tacos are a good example - while they traveled up from Baja, here in the states they are largely considered a Cali-Mex thing - that is now taking off across the country (with mixed, decidedly mixed) results.

                                                                                          So to say that "the" American style taco involves some sort of chicken/beef in a chili sauce with lettuce, cheese (American? really? never seen that!) or flour tortillas is to deny that fluidity.

                                                                                          Dorados, to me, stand out as the epitome of TexMex "American" style tacos, as you mention - corn tortillas, ground beef, fried to a crunch and garnished with lettuce and tomato - everything you don't like about a mashup... but is indeed a delicious regional take on a taco. It doesn't mean I "only" want that type of taco, ever, only that it's delicious, authentically TexMex and if you're ever in Snyder, TX, I highly recommend you stop by the Spanish Inn to try their take on them.

                                                                                          1. re: shanagain
                                                                                            Steve RE: shanagain Oct 11, 2011 06:46 PM

                                                                                            I had a really good fish taco in Santa Barbara. But I wouldn't give you a nickel for the ones I've had in the DC area where I live. And I don't think much of the ones I've had in South Florida, even the better places.

                                                                                            I'm not saying that these things don't exist at all, but they are not indicative nor are they usually any good in places where there is not a sizable Mexican population. When places outside NY, Cal, Texas, and New Mexico start crowing about the tacos, then I'll be as happy as anyone. Especially in the DC area where I live. As it is, Chipotle is the best you're likely to find in most other places.

                                                                                            1. re: Steve
                                                                                              monkeyrotica RE: Steve Oct 12, 2011 03:42 AM

                                                                                              Agreed about the fish tacos in DC. I have yet to have a decent one. As for Mexican tacos made with Mexican ingredients by Mexicans, La Mexicana Bakery and Tacqueria is my favorite. No noticeably Mexican population in that area; it's predominately Salvadorean, hence most tacquerias skew that style/flavor.

                                                                                            2. re: shanagain
                                                                                              DiningDiva RE: shanagain Oct 11, 2011 07:53 PM

                                                                                              Tacos Dorados are pretty common all over Mexico. We know 'em as taquitos or rolled tacos. And hard shell tacos are actually not that uncommon either. Mexican fry tacos as well. It's a ubiquitous vehicle, if you can conceive it, someone, somewhere in Mexico is probably doing it, or something close.

                                                                                              I had a chile relleno taco for breakfast in Veracruz a few weeks ago. Absolutely delicious

                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                paulj RE: DiningDiva Oct 11, 2011 08:02 PM

                                                                                                Though a flat fried tortilla, a tostada, is more common than the U shaped version.

                                                                                                1. re: paulj
                                                                                                  DiningDiva RE: paulj Oct 11, 2011 11:11 PM

                                                                                                  I'm sorry, I'm not getting your point.

                                                                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                                                                    Cachetes RE: paulj Oct 12, 2011 04:02 AM

                                                                                                    Good point. And of course, that wouldn't be a taco, it would be a tostada. And to DD, they would be called flautas, right?

                                                                                                    Do people in Mexico really think of tostadas and flautas as just versions of tacos? Or do they see them as a completely different beast?

                                                                                                    1. re: Cachetes
                                                                                                      paulj RE: Cachetes Oct 12, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                                                      If I were to describe a flauta (flute) off the top of my head, I describe it as a corn tortilla tightly wrapped around the filling and then fried into a tube shape. Or is that a taquito (little taco)? Frying the tube, and then stuffing it sounds like something a high end restaurant (in DF) might try, not a street vender.

                                                                                                      In US taquerias, ceviche is often served on a tostada. I believe tostada can refer to both the crisp tried tortilla, and the tortilla with topping. (However in Ecuador tostada refers to toasted corn (corn nuts)). Literally the word just means 'toasted' or 'something that is toasted'.

                                                                                                      Dorrada has mentioned - literally that is just 'golden'

                                                                                                      1. re: Cachetes
                                                                                                        DiningDiva RE: Cachetes Oct 12, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                                                        I usually think of flautas as being made with flour tortillas but I've seen rolled tacos made with corn tortillas called both flautas and taquitos.

                                                                                                        The fried tacos I'm referring to aren't really tostadas. What I meant is that the taquero fills the flat corn tortilla, folds it over (and sometimes toothpicks it) and slides it into the well in the disco/memlera of hot fat and fries it.

                                                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                                          paulj RE: DiningDiva Oct 12, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                                                                          And if the corn tortilla (flattened masa) is filled before cooking it may be called a quesadilla.

                                                                                      3. KaimukiMan RE: ChefRoux Oct 11, 2011 12:52 PM

                                                                                        when i was growing up in the San Francisco area there was an urban legend that San Francisco had better Chinese food than China, Better Pizza than Italy, and the best seafood anywhere. Mexican food wasn't 'that' popular back then, but Alta California had it's own regional variation on Mexican food that, while different from what you find in Old Mexico today, was certainly authentic because it was made by and for Mexicans who became American when California was aquired.

                                                                                        Llike most urban legends, there is a kernel of truth somewhere in the middle of all that. Italians visiting major american cities are very likely to try Chicago or NYC pizza, Chinese (an increasing part of the tourist industry globally) want to try Chinese food whether they are in Monterey Park, San Francisco, London, or Singapore. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don't. If you want to tie down what an authentic Taco al Pastor is, you may have a chance, or a fish taco (big debate about grilled vs. battered and fried,) but as has been mentioned before, there is a heck of a difference between a Monte Cristo, a Philly cheesesteak, and a good old PB&J. All of them are sandwiches.

                                                                                        1. w
                                                                                          wyogal RE: ChefRoux Oct 11, 2011 01:58 PM

                                                                                          My first "taco" was probably 40+ years ago, at a neighbor's house. She took a hard corn shell (right out of the box) and put a slice of bologna and American cheese in it.

                                                                                          1. charles_sills RE: ChefRoux Oct 11, 2011 06:30 PM

                                                                                            although not traditional, but IMO very authentic. (authentically me i suppose) i make a great braised turkey leg taco with homemade corn tortillas, homemade crema, and mango/jalepeno/lemon salsa that i think is just incredible.

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