Taco 101

A guide to the different types of tacos
Culinary World Jan 19, 2021
taco-dish

How many different types of tacos have you tried? The variants of this widely loved recipe are mainly defined by the type of meat, cuts, and cooking method involved.

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Our 101 guide to the main versions of the delicious staple of Mexican cuisine is here to guide you through the differences among many possible menu options and inspire your restaurant with new recipe hints. Let's talk that taco!

  • Tacos al pastor: shepherd-style pork tacos; the meat is first marinated in a blend of chilies and spices, then slow-cooked using a trompo(a vertical rotisserie) on an open flame; it is usually garnished with pineapple.
  • Tacos árabes: filled with slices of pork marinated with herbs and spices and slow-cooked from a trompo or spit; the tortilla resembles a pita bread, which comes from the Arab influences in Mexican cuisine.
  • Tacos de barbacoa: made with slow-cooked beef head, beef cheeks, or goat, traditionally made over an open flame or in a hole dug into the ground.
  • Tacos campechanos: made with a combination of leftover meats to create a new, complex medley of flavors and textures; usually, it’s a combination of beef, spicy pork sausage, and chorizo.
  • Tacos de birria: made with spicy meat stew, usually prepared with goat that is marinated in a spicy guajillo chili-based broth.
  • Tacos de buche: made with pig stomach that is stewed with a variety of spices and chiles.
  • Tacos de cabeza: made with meat from the head of a cow (a particularly savory part, typically only requiring salt), that can either be braised or steamed.
  • Tacos de carne asada: made with ranchera or flap steak from the short loin of a cow that is marinated citrus juices, cumin, and other spices and then grilled and chopped into very small bits.
  • Tacos de carnitas: made with shredded pork shoulder that is slowly braised or simmered for some hours in its own fat until tender so that the meat easily comes apart and presents a slightly crispy texture.
  • Tacos de cecina: beef or pork tacos made with sliced and salted meat partially that is dried in sheets or strips in the air, sun, or smoke; the meat is usually marinated in a coating of chili pepper and served in small bits.
  • Tacos de chapulín: made with grasshoppers that are dried and toasted, and flavored with garlic, lime juice, and chili.
  • Tacos de chicharrón: made with fried pork skins that are simmered in salsa verde and with a spicy note, as well as with a chewy texture.
  • Tacos de pollo: made with chicken that is usually grilled and either cut into chunks or shredded.
  • Tacos de chorizo: made with a blend of minced meat (usually pork, although it is possible to find other variants), that is seasoned with chili peppers.
  • Tacos de cochinita pibil: made with pork that is marinated with citrus juices (bitter orange, lemon, or lime) or vinegar, as well as annatto seed, and then wrapped in a banana leaf and slow roasted.
  • Tacos de cueritos: made with pork skin that is pickled in vinegar and seasoned with chilis, peppers, oregano, and various spices.
  • Tacos de lengua: made with beef tongue that is slow-cooked for several hours and chopped into tiny chunks.
  • Tacos de pescado: fish tacos made with fried or grilled white fish filet that is topped with lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo salsa, and sour cream; alternatively, this taco version can be made with shrimps.
  • Tacos de sesos: made with cow brain that is boiled, seasoned, and then either braised or grilled.
  • Tacos de suadero: made with meat that is stewed in lard for several hours and then fried.
  • Tacos de tripas: made with cow stomach or intestines that are boiled and then cooked, traditionally in a “disco” made with two tiling discs, that are stacked on top of each other and have a pole welded in the middle.

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