Re-create taco cart favorites at home with our guide. Need a fun entertaining idea? Host a Taco Bar with easy, authentic fillings and toppers.
In Mexico, tacos are a snack food, often sold by street vendors from taco carts either midmorning or in the evening. So-called "street tacos" vary in preparation, especially by region, offering many great finds for lucky diners. Check out some of the popular taco cart choices below.
Pescado (fish): Fish tacos originated in the Yucatan Peninsula using fresh local fish. Marinate firm fish fillets, such as halibut, salmon, or orange roughy, in a tequila-lime juice marinade and serve in a homemade flour tortilla for a batch of your own.
Al Carbon (grilled): Grilled tacos are a Northern Mexico specialty filled with charbroiled meat and served with flour tortillas. Marinated grilled skirt steak works well. Grill the steak along with green onions and foil-wrapped tortillas to enhance the flavor.
Carnitas (pork): In popular carnitas tacos, typically tough pork shoulder is slowly simmered in seasonings for hours in a slow cooker or oven until it's fork-tender. These braised bites of seasoned pork are then served in corn tortillas.
Dorados (fried): Also called flautas, taquitos, or fried tacos, the tortillas are wrapped around a filling and fried. For Pollo Dorado Tacos, roll 6-inch corn tortillas around a shredded chicken, tomato, and pepper filling and skillet-fry them until lightly browned.
Barbacoa (barbecued/smoked): Shredded meat traditionally is steamed in a pit smoker until moist and smoky. Our Tacos de Barbacoa recipe calls for slowly smoking a banana-leaf-wrapped beef roast over mesquite wood chunks.
Al Pastor: These street-vendor tacos combine pork and pineapple cooked on a vertical spit. The meat is carved off along with bits of pineapple. A home-cooked version of tacos al pastor calls for grilling slices of pork loin and fresh pineapple.
Serving tacos buffet-style can be as simple as making one batch of filling for family or it can expand to feed a hungry bunch of teens or a gathering of friends -- just add more of everything.
Step 1: Prepare the filling
Prepare one or more recipes of filling. Keep in mind that 3 cups of filling makes 12 tacos.
Step 2: Prep your desired taco toppings
Of course there's the tried-and-true shredded lettuce, chopped onion, chopped tomato, and shredded cheese. Or go for some of these options:
- Warmed refried pinto beans or canned black beans
- Crumbled queso fresco
- Refrigerated fresh salsa (pico de gallo)
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- Shredded cabbage
- Bottled pickled jalapeno chile peppers
- Sauteed onions and sweet peppers
- Snipped fresh cilantro
Step 3: Warm the tortillas
Stack corn and/or flour tortillas and wrap them in foil. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until warm. If using taco shells, arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake according to package directions or until heated through.
Step 4: Set the scene
For the buffet, set a table with plates, napkins, tortillas (in a warmer if you like), and colorful dishes of filling(s) and toppings with serving utensils. Everyone can dish up his or her own.
Tacos are oh so good, but they can be so messy sometimes especially for kids. How many times has this happened to you when you're trying to fill your taco? You've tried filling it up with all of your ingredients and it crunches. I got a solution for you that is a lot more tidy and it's just as much fun. I just take a pita pocket, open it up, and fill it with my taco ingredients just as if I was making a taco. I'll just spoon in my favorites: meat, lots of cheese, and I like some tomatoes and sour cream, too. But again, you can use whatever you want. And then to top it all off, what's really fun is just to add a few little tortilla chips that are already crushed up. That'll add the crunch that you're missing from having that messy taco shell. And there you go. You've got a really tidy taco and no mess that goes along with it.