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Excellent Taco Recommendations

I have some friends coming to visit in a week and I plan on making tacos. I have on vegetarian in the group so some tacos will be tofu and some will be flank steak or pork.

I always see good advice on this site so I am looking for any and all recommendations on how to build unique awesome tacos. In particular I'm looking for toppings or sauces to put on them other than just lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream and salsa.

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  1. I'd set it up as a taco bar and people can pick and choose what they want. We even add rice and black beans to our 'tacos.' Also avocado rather than guacamole usually. And offer various hot sauces in addition to salsa/pico de gallo. You can also do chicken or fish or shrimp. Really the skies just about the limit. With something like this, I never worry about 'authenticity." 'Course since you're already doing tofu, you obviously don't care about that :) And the vegetarian might not even eat the tofu. I find them satisfying just about any way. Have fun.

    1. Black beans or calabacitas would be nice alternatives to tofu. Calabacitas is basically sauteed zucchini, corn, onion, and green chiles or poblanos if you want them. Maybe a little garlic, cumin, S&P.

      1. I do a taco bar a couple times a year. In addition to what you are offering, I have refried beans warming in a crockpot, chopped scallions, jalapenos, homemade pico, homemade 'spanish' rice, guac, lime wedges, and (I can't believe I am admitting this, but people go crazy for it) velveeta mixed with salsa in a warmer.

        I have the tortillas warm (I wrap both flour and corn in foil packets of 6 to 8 and stack them in the oven @175 - 200 about 45 minutes before serving).

        I use smaller tortillas, not the burrito sized, so people won't hesitate to make more than one. And I always have a bowl of tortilla chips, too, so people can make a plate of nachos, if they want.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jeanmarieok

          Ditto re the small tortillas. I like to have a couple with different ingredients and that's the only way I can.

          1. re: jeanmarieok

            Do you normally use corn or flour? I was leaning towards small corn tortillas.

              1. re: MyKitchenBroke

                I offer both - I have a girl friend with celiac, so corn tortillas are an easy solution.

            1. Here's a great vegan taco:

              A bit of minced onion and garlic sauteed lightly in olive oil in a sauce pan. Add red potatos, skin on, and vegetable broth to cover. Boil/simmer the potatoes in the veggie broth until tender.

              Add Soyrizo, and roasted, chopped poblano or other mild green chiles, some chopped green onion, and smash - don't fully mash - the potatoes and mix to incorporate everything together. Season as needed with salt, pepper, cumin, whatever suits your fancy. If you like cilantro add some chopped.

              Then put this mixture into small corn tortillas, seal them closed and fry 'em in vegetable oil until golden brown.

              These are great with guacamole by the way, and your vegetarian friends and meat eaters will love them.

              25 Replies
              1. re: EarlyBird

                How do you seal a tortilla please? And I think that sounds great without Soyrizo!

                1. re: c oliver

                  With these tacos the smashed potato mixture will keep it all together and relatively sealed closed.

                  I am not a vegetarian, but the Soyrizo rocks. You get all the flavor and texture from (Mexican) chorizo without the fat.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      A quesadilla then? I can't get over the sealing and frying and still calling it a taco. I've seen what Early Bird makes in DF (with different ingredients inside), and it's called a quesadilla. Hmm.

                      I know, I'm splitting hairs, and so long as it's good (and Early Bird's looks very good), it's not important what it's called!

                      1. re: Cachetes

                        I've not ever seen a quesadilla like that either. But I don't pretend to be an expert.

                        1. re: Cachetes

                          Many tacos are fried. This is classic Mexican cuisine. Basic stuff. A quesadilla uses cheese, "queso," and is not fried, but broiled.

                          1. re: EarlyBird

                            From my experience, quesadillas are pan fried.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I have had bags of masa harina printed with a quesadilla recipe where you mix the corn flour with water and press a small amount as if for tortillas, then put the filling on it, fold/seal it, and deep fry it. I tried them a couple of times and they are pretty good - they don't get crisp all the way, just sort of chewy-crisp.

                            2. re: EarlyBird

                              Yes I have had and made tacos fried with the filling inside. Delicious, but maybe impractical for a crowd.

                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                  One of my guilty pleasures are the deep fried tacos at Wendy's. They fry the whole damn thing, lettuce and all. It is more of a 3 am thing, if you know what I mean.

                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                    Wow. Fried lettuce, and tomatoes. Imagine the splatter. Those workers must smell like tacos at home for days. (I recall from McDonald's day bak in the 70s...)

                                  2. re: Bada Bing

                                    I have done deep-fried, but it's messy. Shallow (pan-fried) works better. And the cool toppings are added after frying by prying the shell open a bit. Messy but good.

                                    There was a Mexican (-American) place in Indianapolis many years ago that did a fried filled taco with a flour tortilla that was very good.

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      My friend, first generation Mexican-American, smokes a chuck roast with mesquite, then shreds and braises that meat in a red chile sauce, then puts it in his mother's hand made corn tortillas and pan fries them. Dear God that's good.

                                      1. re: EarlyBird

                                        Wow. That sounds more than awesome.

                                        1. re: EarlyBird

                                          That sounds fabulous. Adding to the list of things to try out with the new smoker....

                                          1. re: Kontxesi

                                            Fantastic. I've also seen him smoke a pork butt rubbed with various chili powders, cumin, S&P, then shred and make carnitas out of it and use a green chili-tomatillo sauce on them.

                                            1. re: EarlyBird

                                              Smoked pork shoulder is our fave thing to do.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Do you smoke it for tacos? If so, how do you season it?

                                                1. re: EarlyBird

                                                  I have Jamison's book "Smoke & Spice" which has loads of rub recipes. The following is a pretty general one:

                                                  http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/2515...

                                2. re: Cachetes

                                  Have you heard of taquitos? Same concept, but rolled and fried. What is DF by the way?

                                  1. re: EarlyBird

                                    DF = Distrito Federales? AKA Mexico City?

                              1. re: Cachetes

                                No. It's a classic taco. Note the use of a corn tortilla.

                            3. Wow, I was going to make a similar recommendation, but others beat me to it. Taco Bar is so fun for everyone. c oliver has it down. Also, the velveeta/salsa thing works well - there's a white velveeta now. Just follow the directions......one thing that I've noticed is that the women will congregate around the queso. Not being misogynistic, but it is something that I have noticed.