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To take advantage of Chase Sapphire Preferred’s lucrative offer of 3x points on dining on the first Friday of every month, we regularly round up the best in food and drink. With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, TPG Contributor Michele Herrmann suggests 10 Mexican eateries that have raised the once humble taco to a higher plane with creative interpretations that still honor tradition. Get a jump on the holiday with a side of guac and a margarita!
Tacos A Go-Go—Houston
There is such a thing as a breakfast taco—and this Tex-Mex place with locations in Fourth Ward and Midtown gets a lot of hype over this morning pick-me-up, served on an egg-based tortilla that can come with add-ons like beans, chorizo, spinach or jalapeño. Taco purists can also order soft corn, flour, whole wheat or crispy-shelled servings of choices such as carne guisada (beef stew in tomato sauce) or al pastor.
With three family-owned locations in Boyle Heights, Downtown LA, and Echo Park, this beloved Eastside lunch institution serves their tacos on tortillas handmade with fresh, hand-ground masa. You won’t find carne asada or al pastor on the menu, but you could still choose from a rich mole poblano, steak picado (shown above) or bistek en salsa roja. Vegetarians will find lots of options, including the crowd-pleasing frijoles con queso, and there are even some gluten-free choices—because after all, this is L.A.
Recently, this taqueria in Wynwood was reported to have unveiled a hidden bar and lounge, where a late-night taco fix is within your grasp. Along with a nightlife scene, the trendy menu features classic tacos such as local favorite Al Pastor (pork and roasted pineapple) and a Carne Asade (char-grilled Angus steak). Fish-based varieties feature everything from seared gulf shrimp to charred octopus. There’s even vegetarian options plus roasted corn on the cob and sides or bowl orders of guac.
With one location in the North End plus a roaming food truck, this fast-casual spot offers soft-flour tortillas with choices of adobo, chorizo, steak, fried fish, pork, and chicken. Go for the generously piled campechano, but don’t neglect the crisp thin al pastor or grilled carne asada. Tenoch is also known for its tortas, a Mexican sandwich with a choice of chicken, pork, fish or even roasted veggies, then topped with chipotle mayo and Oaxacan cheese.
Los Tacos No. 1—New York City
Gotham has a good of share of Mexican restaurants, and this recent arrival to Chelsea Market decks out street-cart style servings that make eating on the go in this high-traffic venue somewhat possible. With Tijuana and Californian influences, their scratch-made corn or flour tortillas get packed with everything from grilled cactus to the popular adobada, pork marinated in a zingy chili sauce. All you need to do is find a seat, and you’re halfway to heaven.
Based in Wicker Park, this hotspot prepares a comprehensive menu of dishes from all over Mexico, with familiar faves such as carnitas and fish tacos and inventive twists like Sweet & Spicy Chicken (pictured above, with cucumber and jalapeño pickle, honey yogurt, purple onion, and cilantro) and Roasted Sweet Potato and Poblano. Drink specialties here include a seasonal agua fresca, rice-milk horchata, and a rosemary margarita.
Tacos El Chilango—Washington, D.C.
This small but buzzing family-owned place on U Street arguably makes the best authentic Mexican food in the Nation’s Capital, but certainly in this funky, nightlife-rich area. And the prices are good, too: an order of three tacos costs $7.50! Fillings extend to lengua (beef tongue, the house specialty), chorizo, steak, and chicken and vegetarian options like queso con aguacante (cheese with fresh avocado).
Pancho Villa Taqueria—San Francisco
Of the many taquerias in the Mission District, Pancho Villa gets major kudos for its freshness—particularly for its array of salsas and assortment of meats. One of the most popular taco meats here is the Spicy Chicken, especially when served Super Taco style, with beans, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomato and salsa (pictured above). For fans of fish tacos, options include grilled salmon and prawn. And as San Fran is all about burritos, find some great veggie, meat and seafood ones here.
This hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away in Capitol Hill is touted for striking the right balance of flavors. Menu items include their house specialty: an adobada pork taco with melted cheese, guacamole and grilled pineapple. Other taco choices include carne asada and pollo asado, or you might want to consider their (practically guilt-free) baby burritos.
In Texas, taco preferences can vary widely. Though more on the upscale side, this chain uses a time-honored method of making corn tortillas by using a method known as nixtamal. The menu is inspired by Mexico City’s street food culture featuring taco orders like al pastor, pollo con mole, red snapper, and roasted corn with lime. There are two locations in Dallas on McKinney Avenue and Mockingbird Station, plus another at DFW airport.
Happy taco travels—and happy Cinco de Mayo! What are your favorite spots for tacos in the U.S.A.? Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.