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May 1, 2013 07:28 PM

Minneapolis-St. Paul Dish of the Month May 2013 -- Tacos.

It's hard to believe that as recently as 20 years ago that your options for Tacos in the Twin Cities were Taco Bell and Chi Chi's (OK, fine I'm old. Well, 39 isn't THAT old is it? :) In fact, I am so old that I remember the term "Taco Sauce" being used for "Salsa". "Taco Sauce" was this nasty concoction of tomato paste, sugar and some sort of weird seasonings. It was kinda like Taco ketchup. It was gross and nasty. OK, I am going off on a tangent here.

Anyway, I hope that this becomes a lively thread now that we have real Mexican restaurants who serve authentic tacos of varying styles. The only thing I ask, is let's not delve into "Fusion" tacos. IMHO putting curry or sushi into a tortilla is just......wrong. OK, I am going off on a tangent again.....(Note to self: Beer makes your mind go off in different directions).


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  1. Los Ocampo (E. St. Paul location) is my go-to spot for tacos. $2/ea, 15+ Proteins to choose from, and make sure to top your taco(s) with their spicy avocado aioli. Game over.

    6 Replies
    1. re: NugarifiK

      spicy avocado aioli.

      Just the sound of it makes me want to be so there!

      1. re: NugarifiK

        The Good:

        Maya Cuisine on Central at 18 1/2th street is serving up some fantastic Al Pastor. The tortillas are made by hand and are wonderful. There are small chunks of caramelized pineapple mixed in with the pork. The creamy-red/orange hot salsa is very good too.

        Olmeca in the strip mall north of Cty 42 & Irving in Burnsville makes a fresh batch of carnitas on Saturdays. They have terrific creamy-red/orange hot hot salsa too. If the carnitas aren't fresh (like Thursday or Friday), the steak tacos are a good second choice. I didn't care for their chicken or Al Pastor.

        Adelitas on Central makes succulent and tender Al Pastor tacos. Almost as good as Maya Cuisine. The grilled cactus, onion and jalapeno that accompany them are terrific.

        The Bad:

        I had some less than stellar Al Pastor at Los Ocampos in Midtown Global last weekend. Dry meat, partially dried out, leathery tortillas.

        Also had some sub-par Al Pastor tacos at the Hacienda location in Burnsville a few weeks ago.

        The Ugly:

        I don't think I've ever seen any ugly tacos.

        1. re: JimGrinsfelder

          I really need to get over to Central to try Maya. They've received rave reviews on here and a couple of my NE Mpls friends went there last week and said its probably the best mexican food in the cities.

          1. re: NugarifiK

            Its fantastic, and about a month ago they had unlimited 50% off vouchers on dealchicken (no idea of site until this listing). The service is super nice. You can ask questions about prep or ingredients. The only problem is sometime the tacos can get soggy, but that's simply b/c the meat is so tender and juicy. The fresh tortilla's soak it up for the most part. Tortillas are a vehicle to deliver food, like bread, so I am just impressed they do it fresh and the right way. Sometimes you don't want the bread to outshine the ingredients or vice versa. Hence bbq joints with white bread or buns.

            We are blessed with the options on Central and Lake. The fact that there are as many Mexican patrons to many of these places just proves its not only authentic but quality. I refuse to go to a foreign restaurant that has become overpopulated by Rick Steves patrons. Any restaurant with a largely vacationing or visiting customer base, will generally not keep the same quality of service or ingredients they did previously.

        2. re: NugarifiK

          There is something magical about that avocado sauce, although at least half the time it doesn't come with it, which I don't understand.

          Anyone else been to Tacos Nachos & Beer in St. Paul? It's close to my office, so I've been a bunch already. A little uneven (they ran out of masa, and switched to flour tortillas one day); and a little expensive $2.50-$2.75 ea, with less meat than Los Ocampo, but fresh grilled meats and a decent salsa bar. I thought the breakfast tacos were a better value (and delicious).

          1. re: NugarifiK

            Came on this thread to say that Los Ocampo (on Lake in Msp) last night/this morning at 1:45 hit the spot. We got the carnitas tacos and the pork was great; the limes and sauce are fantastic. 24 hrs Fri and Sat.---pretty awesome!

          2. Pinedas Taco have been my favorite for a long time. I usually have their carnitas with salsa verde. But I haven't had them for a while.

            I picked up a couple of chicken tacos from the Taco Taxi truck this week. They were nice and satisfying. But not the best I've had.

            I've also liked the tacos from Pollo Comparo on Robert whenever I visit that chain for chicken. Nothing great, but very tasty.

            I'm defintiely going to try the ones at Maya on Central. I vaguely remember some great ones at Homi from a while back. I need to try them again.

            3 Replies
            1. re: shoo bee doo

              Pinedas Tacos used to have two places on Lake Street. I noticed that the one near Hwy 35 had a different name now. The setup looks the same. Does anyone have information about that?

              Funny, I always preferred that one shop to all the others. Things seemed to taste better. It must have been my imagination.

              1. re: shoo bee doo

                So convenient for the western burbs. Besides a nice variety of great tacos, they sell (not made in house) my favorite cheese cake. Same little strip mall as TeaHouse near Willowcreek movie theater.

              2. re: shoo bee doo

                Confession: Speaking of chains, I really do love the barbecoa, hard shell tacos at both Chipotle and Qdoba. I consider them though a different animal than those from authentic little Mexican shops.

              3. Muddy Waters BBQ Mock Duck Taco is one of my favorite meals at the moment. The mock duck is actually browned quite a bit like real meat, and the sauce has a nice zip to it. They go exceptionally well with the Yuca Fries.

                Sonora Grill's Eggplant Carmelo (apparently code for "taco) is outstanding. The eggplant is breaded by some crunchy outside and then tossed in with a chimichurri aioli that is delish.

                Although I generally identify as vegetarian, as 99.9% of my meals over the last 14 years have been, I've partaken of Sonora Grills Tilapia and Shrimp tacos as well. Tilapia is done in a green tempura, the shrimp in a red. Super crunchy and perfectly cooked, the tilapia is particularly good.

                I had a daily lunch special at Modern Times Cafe that was a Fried Plantain taco. Soft and sweet bites of plantain and a bunch of standard fixins. Really nice mid-week lunch and it was my first visit there.