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What is the superlative taco and where to find it in the Boston area?

[NOTE: We've moved this discussion from the thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831386 -- The Chowhound Team]

Yeah, I feel that tacos are one of those things like bagels that some people can get extremely regional with. I didn't grow up in Southern California (although I have eaten from LA taco trucks and recommended hole-in-the walls in Southern California) so I guess it's lost on me, but although my Texas or So Cal friends belabor how bad our tacos are in Boston, even they can't tangibly describe why tacos are just so much better back home.

Obviously regional food is often best in its region (although they may exist, I haven't been to any fantastic New-England style seafood shacks in California) so I do feel like a little slack has to be cut to restaurants making great food who are "attempting" authenticity (whatever that extremely vague term means). I tend to compare these places to other places in Boston, rather than to the "genuine" article.

My question for you hounds who grew up eating tacos is what is the holy grail of tacos? What is the superlative taco? I know price obviously factors in and clearly double tortillas (hopefully house made), but what else makes a taco great? And where should I go in Boston for tacos?

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  1. Carnitas taco at Taqueria Jalisco, East Boston. Other tacos there are pretty good and a good value (birria, lengua) but the meats are often on the dry side.

    1 Reply
    1. I would nominate Dorado Tacos. I think the Ensenada & Dorito tacos are addicting.

      http://doradotacos.com/

      9 Replies
      1. re: ItalyFan

        I love Dorado! They are my go-to taco place and I think their tacos are great. The selection of drinks is a plus (Mexican coke, Bohemia beer, and their Jamaica tea is my favorite). I've always thought they were great but past threads have been critical. I also like Felipes in Harvard Square and their condiment bar.

        I'll make the trek to Taqueria Jalisco and report back.

        1. re: Klunco

          One more vote for Dorado. I went for the first time this weekend, and enjoyed the Dorado (fried fish), chorizo, and beef tacos. All served with two tortillas, and better, cheaper, and more substantial than Lone Star Taco bar.

          1. re: kimfair1

            The wife and I get Dorado's every thursday, love, love, LOVE their tacos and cemitas!!!

        2. re: ItalyFan

          disagree, worst taco's I've ever had, though I've yet to try Anna's, but that's because worst "Mexican" ever.

          1. re: Nechushtan

            What about Dorado's tacos make them the worst ever? Also where do recommend for good tacos?

            1. re: Nechushtan

              Anna's tacos are Mission-style burrito fillings inside steamed corn tortillas. It's not really any traditional taco configuration. Not especially good, either.

              1. re: Luther

                As far as Anna's, that makes sense to me, thanks Luther.

                But I was actually asking about Dorado which I thought is who Nechushtan is referring to as "worst taco's I've ever had."

              2. re: Nechushtan

                gee, that seems harsh. i don't find them the best, but they're certainly good. What made them the worst?

            2. Current Mex faves include Taqueria El Amigo in Waltham and Jalisco in Eastie. For Salvadoran, many options, but Pupuseria Mama Blanca in Eastie is reliable. Also like the tacos arabes at Angela's Cafe (a Poblana specialist) in Eastie.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              5 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                What are the differences between Mexican and El Salvadoran tacos? Clearly, I'll have to hit Pupuseria Mama Blanca for a taste test.

                1. re: Klunco

                  As much about what's on the rest of the menu, as tacos are a Mexican dish. Many of our ostensibly Mexican restaurants have Salvadoran or Guatemalan owners and chefs; Mexican dishes are offered because they're popular (and perhaps because Mexican cuisine is more familiar to Anglos), not because they're part of their traditional cuisine.

                  Might be some subtle differences in / adaptations to seasoning, types of dairy products used, etc. But I'd say it's mainly about what else you can get there. If they also serve pupusas, it's likely not a Mexican chef or owner. El Amigo, Jalisco, and Angela's are among the rare examples of Mexican-owned restaurants around. There's just not a big Mexican ex-pat population here compared to our Caribbean, Central and South American communities, notably folks from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Colombia, Brazil, and maybe Puerto Rico.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I'll second the tacos at El Amigo in Waltham.. mmmgawa!

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  I started going to Angela's when it first opened--basically a hole in the wall place with DELICIOUS and CHEAPLY authentic mexican food. I went back once about 3 years ago and the prices were higher and it was more "restauranty." How is it these days? Thinking about taking my out of state boyfriend there, but don't want to hype it up incredibly if it's changed.

                  1. re: crosel23

                    It has definitely gotten a decor upgrade. It added a beer/wine license. The prices have crept up, though I think that's true of places up and down the restaurant spectrum. I find the food is pretty much what it has always been. The moles and tingas are delicious, and they still overcook the chicken breast.

                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                3. tacos de cabeza at taqueria el amigo in waltham
                  tacos de cabeza, lengua, and birria at taqueria jalisco in east boston
                  tacos de tripas at mexico lindo in lynn
                  tacos de campechanos at romano's pizzeria and taqueria in roslindale

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: galangatron

                    Thanks galangatron because I had no idea that Mexico Lindo had tacos de tripas which I will travel for, its a regular item on the menu? Good non-taco offerings? (In fairness I currently travel for just about any taco offering, but I do have a standard of a tripas taco on the west coast.)

                    1. re: itaunas

                      they're on the regular menu. the handmade corn tortillas are a little thick but, overall, it's a good taco

                    2. re: galangatron

                      Thanks galangatron! Would you say that offal tacos are a distinguishing factor of a great taqueria or is that just personal preference? I've enjoyed lengua tacos before but never tried cabeza which sounds sort of like head cheese.

                      1. re: Klunco

                        The tacos de cabeza at El Amigo aren't scary at all: "beef cheek" might be a better translation than the literal "head"; it's essentially skull-adjacent muscle tissue, without the organ meat like tongue that head cheese typically includes. It sort of reminds me of short ribs or brisket in texture, with a richer flavor.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: Klunco

                        I heard that Rosticeria Cancun had a serious fire a few weeks ago; does anyone know if they're still in business?

                        Haven't been to El Potro, though it's been on my list forever. And La Verdad gets a mention: hmmm. Those are Kenji's contributions, no doubt.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          I once ordered the chicken tacos at El Potro and received fajita strips in a tortilla.

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            I always bite my tongue before saying, "That place didn't look promising to me", because many times when I judge the book by its cover, I turn out to be wrongedty-wrong-wrong. But I have to admit, I've had chances to eat at El Potro and have opted for something else nearby instead.

                            When Kenji reviewed it for the Phoenix a few years ago, he called the Mexican dishes mediocre and praised the Salvadoran dishes: yucca frita con chicharrones, pupusas with chicharron and cheese (raved about them) and the plato montaƱero. I wonder if the Serious Eats inclusion is some kind of mistake.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I do remember having pupusas there that I enjoyed. It's a few years ago now. But they were as good as my only other pupusa reference point, (the former) Tacos Lupita up the road.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Huh. I haven't been to Potro in years but enjoyed the pupusas well enough--had better in Eastie though. The tacos I saw going by didn't inspire confidence. Of course things may have changed.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  I lived in Union during the first two years it opened and found it pretty good but nothing to get excited about. Guess I'm just adding to this chorus. I considered myself lucky to be able to get nearly great tamales from Taqueria La Mexicana, really good pupusas from El Potro and good enough tacos from both, a few blocks from home. Always liked the tostadas from T La M as well.

                              2. re: MC Slim JB

                                MC -

                                The RC right in Maverick Square is being worked on - I didn't realize that there had been a fire, but they are clearly trying to rebuild.

                              3. re: Klunco

                                Kenji is usually as on-point as MC, but I got to disagree with him (or whoever from SE put this together) here. Amigo and Jalisco are the best around. And I think the best in a slightly more upscale setting is probably Lone Star. Beats La Verdad, in my opinion.

                                That being said, you'll probably still find me and my friends at La Verdad on a Tuesday, cuz, hey, they're only a dollar.