It doesn’t have to be Tuesday for you to enjoy a good taco or three. According to statistics, Americans are eating upwards of 4.5 billion tacos a year! This comes as no surprise to the average taco enthusiast. If you know anything about all the different taco styles out there, you know the options are plentiful when it comes to choosing what types of tacos to order.
Originating in Mexico, different types of tacos have been prepared and eaten as a quick, on the go street food since the 18th century. Since first arriving in the United States in 1905, Mexican-style tacos have been tweaked and remixed into countless variations, inspired by flavors from all over the world. These days, a taco can pretty much be defined as anything eaten on a tortilla.
But to really test your taco knowledge, let’s get into the classic types of Mexican tacos. Traditional Mexican ingredients and flavors are inseparable when it comes to the classic taco varieties. And while you may be familiar with a few different types of street tacos and the typical American cheese-lettuce-tomato style — here are 15 classic taco varieties that you just have to try in order to consider yourself a true taco connoisseur.
15 Types of Tacos Everyone Should Try at Least Once
Carne asada, or grilled steak tacos, are one of the more well-known types of street style tacos, but that doesn’t make them any less traditional. Early Mexico is known for its cows and “cowboys,” so it makes sense that hungry ranchers would stuff grilled steak into a corn tortilla for a filling meal in a pinch. Today’s carne asada tacos still closely resemble classic recipes: Marinated skirt or flank steak is cooked over a flame and thinly sliced. Add a warm corn tortilla, cilantro, onions and a salsa of your choice and you’ve got yourself a solid carne asada taco.
Carne molida or picadillo
The mother of the classic American taco we all know and love. Carne Molida or picadillo
Tacos are made with seasoned ground beef and served in a corn or flour tortilla. You can dress them up the way we do stateside, with cheese, sour cream, lettuce and tomato. Or go the more traditional route with cilantro, onion, and red or green salsa.
Birria tacos are experiencing a resurgence of sorts thanks to popular social media networks. But in case you’ve never heard of this popular taco option: Birria is a flavorful, chile braised, pulled goat or beef stew that is stuffed in a corn tortilla, griddled and served with its own braising liquid or consomme for dipping. Typical birria toppings include onion, cilantro and, if you order it quesabirria style – melty cheese. Viva La Birria in Boston takes it a step further, serving up these flavorful braised meat in bowls, chimmichangas, tortas and burritos. Order now and get your birria tacos in less time than it’ll take to post about it.
Tinga tacos are made with shredded chicken cooked in a spicy tomato-chile sauce. Tinga makes a great filling for flour, corn tortillas and tostadas alike, and pairs best with a tangy pickled red onion and a drizzle of crema to cool it down. As always, add as much or little cilantro and chopped white onion as you want.
Typically, when you see pescado tacos on a menu, you can expect a flaky white fish that has been battered, deep fried and paired with sliced avocado and a tangy cabbage slaw. That is what we taco connoisseurs call baja style, named after its inception in the beach-side towns of (Mexico adjacent) southern California. If you’re in Philly, you can get your hands on these bright and crispy tacos from Iztaccihuatl for pickup or delivery with Grubhub.
Have you ever walked into a Mexican restaurant and seen those big standing rotisserie spits full of roasted pork and caramelized pineapple? That, dear reader, is Al Pastor. The classic Al Pastor recipe is pork shoulder that has been marinated in an adobo-based rub and then slow roasted with fresh pineapple for a succulent, smoky sweet final product. Pair it with a warm corn tortilla, chopped cilantro and onion, and a salsa verde for the perfect taco al pastor.
Recipes for barbacoa vary depending on which parts of Mexico you may be in. But in essence, goat, or beef chuck roast is slow cooked in a flavorful, seasoned broth and shredded. When ordering barbacoa tacos you can expect them to come with fresh lime, chopped cilantro and onion, and a spicy salsa. You can get these more elusive goat version of these tacos from Empellon Taqueria in NYC when you order now for pickup or delivery with Grubhub.
Not all chorizos are made the same, and the one you choose will determine the type of pork taco you’re going to get! Unlike Spanish chorizo, which is a cured pork sausage that has been seasoned with paprika. Mexican chorizo is a spicy, ground pork sausage that has been seasoned with red chile peppers to get chorizo rojo. Or, it can be made with green chile peppers and cilantro, which will get you chorizo verde. Both options are delicious, but you’re more likely to see chorizo rojo tacos on the menus at your favorite Mexican restaurants.
Though carnitas are typically reserved for weekends due to their long, slow cooking process. When you order from Carnitas Uruapan on Grubhub, you can get these tacos any day of the week. Carnitas are chunks of crispy pork that have been roasted in seasonings and its own fat. With you order carnitas mixtos, you can expect the chopped pork that fills your tacos to be a mixture of all of the best parts of the day’s roast. Crispy skin, chewy fat, succulent roasted pork all come together to make the perfect bite.
Not to be confused with a jalapeno popper, a chiles relleno taco is composed of a smoky, roasted poblano pepper that has been stuffed with meat or cheese, battered and then deep fried. This one does not hail from Mexico, we can thank New Mexico and southwestern cuisine for chiles rellenos tacos. These pair best with pickled red onion or cabbage, crema and a salsa of your choice.
Mastered the above ten tacos and ready to graduate to full-fledged taco expert? Check out these different kinds of tacos made from less well-known types of taco meat:
- Lengua or braised beef tongue tacos
- Cabeza or tacos made with roasted head or cheek meat.
- Higado encebollado tacos, or tacos made from liver and onions. Yes, this can also be served on a tortilla.
- Huitlacoche tacos, which are made from a mushroom like fungus that grows on corn and can be eaten raw or lightly sauteed. Think of these like Mexican truffles.
- Tacos Tripidas or tacos made from tripe or cows stomach that has been cleaned, boiled seasoned and grilled.