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taco toppings (guacamole, tomato, salsa, olives, sour cream, cheese) - serve chilled or room temp?

I am hosting a taco party on Friday and the ingredients will be prepped an hour or two beforehand. It makes sense to let the cheese come to room temp, but is it best to serve the other ingredients chilled, straight out of the fridge or should i get them 30 or so minutes to warm up to room temperatureish. In particular, there is often a constant battle in my house of guacamole - chilled or room temp? What do you prefer?

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  1. I prefer room temp for everything but the cheese- if the room temp is too warm and it sits out too long is gets kind oily and stuck together- but I put the cheese on top of the meat to melt, not on the top of the taco.

    1. I like my guac a little cooler than room temp, I think it's more flavorful that way, also same for salsa.

      1. Given your three options......30 minutes.....

        Guacamole at room temperature.....or the same 30 minutes. If you order Guac at Rosa Mexicano.....they make it Tableside, and it's fantastic.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Great, I will let the salsa and guac sit out for a little while before serving. Is this the preferred temp because the flavors are somewhat dulled at fridge temp?

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            I do believe flavors of many items are indeed dulled by fridge temps......

            Many fruits and vegetables taste better closer to room temperature ....rather than chilled for many. Examples of this are tomatoes, berries,melon, peaches, apples. Fruits that taste better chilled ....citrus, grapes or watermelon. i do not know the science behind it, but items that are too cold affect the taste of the item combined with numbing the taste buds on your tongue. A Cold Tomato has very little flavor, but one sliced off the counter has a much more flavor burst.. You can really tell how temperature affects tastes of items by eating ice cream. When it's too hard to scoop, it's below 0*. Allow the ice cream to warm above 5*, where it begins to melt and there is a world of difference. Your tongue and tastebuds cannot taste anything below 5*.

            I do not know how avocados are affected, but i do know tomatoes, once chilled below a certain temperature will never ripen. I suspect the same for many other fruits and vegetables. Produce is refrigerated, or chilled to extend shelf life. Refrigeration is not necessary to serve the item per recipe. The items you list will not be compromised by sitting out for a couple of hours.....unless it's outdoors in direct sunlight.

            In my opinion cool is fine for anything served with the tacos, just not my preference.......but with the hot meat ....all your toppings will be warmed once placed on top in the shell. I've prepared many a party for family ......or even hundreds at the Country Club and restaurants I worked at in the past. Items are made and held in refrigeration....but brought out to the table/buffet in advance of guests......the 30 minute window would be consistent with the professional or commercial approach.

        2. I like room temperature salsas. I hate it when I add very cold salsa to my hot taco and it cools everything down.

          1. Room temp, definitely. IMO, flavors are better and the toppings don't cool the final product.

            1. Thanks for all of the comments. I do find that even if I sit the cheese out for a while, that I sometimes need to microwave to get it to melt on the taco even if I put the cheese directly on top of the meat. It could be that some of the other toppings like guacamole and salsa are cooler.

              1. Your sour cream, however, should be kept cold. Room-temperature dairy isn't ever a great idea.

                Everything else should be okay at room temp.

                1. You've gotten good answers so far

                  Cheese and sour cream both should be cooler than room temp.

                  Please don't forget the cilantro and lime wedges

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RetiredChef

                    Ahhh lime, I totally would have forgot that. And, as less than a fan of cilantro that as well. Does anyone ever put hot sauce on tacos? With my current cholula obsession I feel like that would be a nice addition to the offerings?

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      I also serve finely chopped red onion with my tacos. Most of the taquerias around here serve their tacos with guacamole, chopped onion and cilantro, and lime wedges on the side.

                  2. Does anyone use MSG in taco meat? Do you find it enhances the flavor at all or not worth the effort?

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          Try some crumbled bacon @ room temp and you Also might
                          want some shrimp, chilled or chicken as well ... All perferred
                          @ room temp