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Sep 11, 2011 01:17 PM

"Authentic" Taco Definition

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. 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. 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. "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

          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

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

            Best I can do

            1. re: chris2269

              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

                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

                  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

                  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. 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

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

            2. 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

                  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

                    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

                    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.