Steve and I both stopped in our tracks one day as we rounded the bend on our way to the gym. We were engulfed in an intoxicating cloud of Mexican heaven. We were on "street taco row"...glorious, glorious street taco row! Found on many streets and street corners in Mexico City, this is where the honor system is king and there’s no such thing as one too many.
Some taco vendors sell their "comida" (food) straight out of the back of their cars so it’s no surprise to see people, many in suits, having breakfast and lunch tailgate style across the city, all starting at about 7 a.m.
|Shopping cart style...|
To come clean, on our first day of street taco discovery, we did not partake. Let’s be honest, we’ve all heard of a man named Montezuma and his infamous revenge.
So we inquired about the health risks of eating from street vendors and quickly learned not all taco stands are created equally. "Choose wisely" was some of the best advice we have received. So we benefited from the experience of other ex-pat friends who introduced us to what has to be one of the best street taco vendors in the city.
So for our weekly pilgrimage, this is our absolute FAVE taco stand with Javier at the helm...
The anatomy of a Mexico City taco stand...
- Take a hot grill...fire up chorizo, res (beef), pollo (chicken), carne asada (grilled steak) and cerdo (pork) - usually done 3 different ways
- Add brightly colored bowls filled with chilies, green and verde salsas, guacamole and always a bowl full of quartered limes to squeeze on everything, evvvverything...
- Pile all of this on a double stack of tortillas
Payment is at the end of this culinary fiesta when you finally wave the white flag.
We always start with 2 tacos each...and end up eating, well, way more. What are you supposed to do with indescribable melt-in-your-mouth tacos? Uno mas, por favor! And repeat.
And now for the Throwdown:
Authentic Mexican tacos vs. the American Tex-Mex style taco
To lay a little ground work - the authentic Mexican taco is quite different from the jumbo stuffed and loaded Tex-Mex tacos we all know and love in the states.
Let's start with the foundation - the tortilla. Tacos in Mexico City are almost always made with soft corn tortillas, roughly 5 inches wide (I’ve actually never seen a hard shell taco in Mexico, although tostadas, yes). Next - the stuff inside - and here is where things fork (pun intended) drastically. Never will you find lettuce or tomato or grated cheddar cheese on a taco in Mexico, unless you slide it in when no one is looking. Authentic Mexican tacos follow the golden rule - less is more, purism rules.
Here’s the beef: take the meat, throw in a little cilantro, maybe some white onions and top it off with verde or red salsa or habanero salsa for those with a sincere death wish. And don’t forget the lime.
As much as I love Tex-Mex - this throwdown goes to Mexico!