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User’s Guide to Tacos

Texans LOVE their tacos. Versatile, portable, and quick to wolf down, tacos are made with either corn or flour tortillas. In their different styles, you can trace more than half a century of Texas’s Mexican-food history.

By and April 2015Comments

Photographs by Jody Horton

a. Classic Mexican: Close to what you would find in Mexico, these tacos—sometimes called street tacos—are usually made with one or two thin corn tortillas. Traditional fillings include pollo (chicken), barbacoa (beef cheek), lengua (beef tongue), and al pastor (pork and pineapple).

b. Modern American: Offered on either corn or flour tortillas, new-style tacos might include roasted corn, Monterey Jack cheese, fried plantains, New Mexico green chiles, or sour cream. 

c. Crispy: This retro taco is made with a corn tortilla fried into a U shape and filled with picadillo (seasoned ground beef), tomato, iceberg lettuce, and grated yellow cheese.

d. Puffy: Rare these days except in San Antonio, a puffy taco calls for frying a raw corn tortilla until it inflates with hot air. Fillings are basic, like chicken or picadillo.

e. Breakfast: Normally made with a flour tortilla, a breakfast taco is stuffed with a choice of scrambled eggs, pan-fried cubed potatoes, chorizo (sausage), cheese, and more. In Mexico their counterparts are called taquitos mañaneros (little morning tacos).

f. Crazy/Loco: A multicultural mash-up, it might combine tuna, orange, and black sesame seeds. Purists fume that they shouldn’t be called tacos at all. Fans just ask, How do they taste? 

This piece is just one bit of wisdom offered in our April 2015 cover story, Welcome to Texas! a friendly user’s guide for our state’s most recent transplants. To read more advice, go here.

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