The Localist

In the mood for tacos

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[bilingual article: English – Español]

I know that tacos are such a Mexican cliché, but the truth is, we do eat them and we eat them a lot.

I’m not going to tell you the right way to eat tacos, or where the best tacos are, or even if you should eat them in soft or hard shells (… seriously, hard shells? what kind of gringo invented those?). I am just going to share with you my taco experience as a Mexican.

Personally, I don’t think there’s any such thing as “the best” taco place. There are “preppy” tacos, there are dodgy taquerias (places that make and sell tacos), there are popular taquerias and then there are the hidden gems. Everyone has their own personal favourite taqueria, and they will all claim to go to the place with the best tacos around.

For me, taquerias are like mood swings. There’s the taqueria to go when you are feeling down, and then there’s the one to go to when you are feeling happy. There’s the one you go to with your family, and then there’s the one you go to with your friends. There’s even a taqueria I go to specifically when I want to discuss politics.

My mum won’t eat just any tacos. She has to feel assured that she is in a clean place where she can sit down at a table. So when I’m with my family, we go to Tacos Providencia,

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a huge restaurant where “la creme de la creme” of Guadalajara’s taco loving society line up in their sunday best for a table. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love this place. Service is great, the salsas are delicious and the taqueros (taco makers) are friendly, My dad knows them all by name, and I always enjoy going there. But growing up, I made my own personal friendships in other taquerias. This is exactly what a taqueria for me is all about; it’s about the friendship between you and your taquero.

There’s the pop up taqueria that I used to go with my dad. Now when I say “pop up”, I mean that every night it pops up in the same place and every morning it is packed up to clear the pathway. This taqueria was somewhere around Glorieta Minerva, Guadalajara’s busiest roundabout. I never knew what it was called, and I’m not even sure it had a name. It was set up under a tarp over the sidewalk, accompanied by some coke-branded tables and chairs. Our local friend there was an old lady, probably in her eighties, who I always knew as “tia”, or auntie. She was in command of the entire operation and in charge of hand making the tortillas. My dad and I would love to go there and chat with our tia, as she chewed gum, made dirty jokes, laughed with all the customers and hand-made the tortillas, her flabby arms swinging all over the place. It’s almost a requirement in Mexico that every taqueria has a tia with flabby “tortillera” arms.

Then, of course, there’s the tacos de perro (dog tacos) located in Rafael Sanzio St. We baptised this place “dog tacos” because of the dodgy location (a tin shed in a vacant lot). We used to joke that they were so dodgy they probably used meat from stray dogs instead of beef.

Before I completely put you off this place, I should say that in all honesty they are the tastier tacos around, and probably my personal favourite. Their huge molcajetes (mortars) are overflowing with all kinds of home made salsas and there’s always an entertaining argument about soccer or politics. I don’t even like soccer, and most of the patrons have different political affiliations, but we always have a good laugh. A few times, at around 3am in the morning when I was on my way back home after a big night out, I’d arrive in desperate need of my taco fix only to find that they were closed and packing up. But that didn’t matter, as they would always be willing to share a bottle of whiskey with me and have a chat after a hard day’s work.

I think the best taco place is the one where you make friendships that make you feel at home. Aside from the salsas and the different cuts of meet, the relationship with your taqueros and tortilleras will always be the best ingredient.

Tacos Providencia – Av. Rubén Darío # 534, 45010 Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

 

Ya se que escribir de Mexico y acerca de tacos es medio cliche pero la verdad es que si los comemos y los comemos bastante.

No les voy a decir como se devén de comer los tacos o en donde encontrar la mejor taqueria. Ni siquiera voy a discutir si se comen con tortilla blanda o dura (… en serio, tortilla dura? que gringo invento eso?) Todo lo que quiero es contarles un poco de lo que para mi es una experiencia taquera verdaderamente Mexicana.

Para mi no existe la mejor taqueria. Hay desde los tacos “fresas”, las taquerias de apariencia cuestionable, las populares, y las joyas escondidas. Cada una de estas taquerias son las favoritas para todos los que van a ellas y todos vana decir que su taqueria es la mejor.

Para mi las taquerias son como como los sentimientos, hay una para cuando uno esta triste, hay otra para cuando uno esta feliz, hay una para ir con la familia y hay otra para ir con los amigos. Incluso para mi hay una para discutir de política!

Mi madre no va a cualquier taqueria, a ella le gusta un lugar que se vea limpio y donde se pueda sentar en una mesa con la familia por eso con la familia vamos a los tacos Providencia, Un

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restaurante enorme donde la “creme de la creme” de la sociedad tapatia amante de los tacos hace fila cada domingo uniformada en sus mejores prendas domingueras. El servicio es excelente, las salsas muy buenas y los taqueros muy amigables, mi Papa los conoce a casi todos por nombre. Siempre es una tarde placentera cuando visitamos a los tacos providencia pero conforme pasaron los anos yo hice amistades en otras taquerias por la ciudad y es exactamente esto lo que para mi hace una buena taqueria, la amistad entre mis taqueros y yo.

Esta la taqueria con la que iba con mi papa. Una taqueria por la glorieta Minerva que consistia en unas cuantas mesas de coca cola en la banqueta tapadas por una lona. Nunca supe como se llama esa taqueria pero teniamos una buena amiga ahí. Una dona alrededor de los 80 anos de edad que nunca supimos su norme pero siempre le decíamos “tía”. La tía estaba al mando de la taqueria y personalmente se encargaba de hacer las tortillas a mano con esos brazos de tortillera (tan populares y estimados en casi todas las taquerias de Mexico, que son casi un requerimiento para ser tortillera), bailando por todos lados. La tía nos contaba chistes pelados y le hachaba cartilla a todo mundo, desde los taqueros hasta a los clientes y aseguraba así una noche bastante placentera.

Después están los tacos de perro en la calle Rafael Sanzio. Los bautizamos los tacos de perro por su locación en un lote baldío bajo una lamina de hojalata. Solíamos bromear por su apariencia que incluso los tacos en vez de ser de res eran de perro pero fuera de broma en mi opinión son los mejores tacos en el área y probablemente mis favoritos. Entre sus selección de salsas caseras en enormes molcajetes y las entretenidas y cómicas discusiones de fútbol y política siempre estaban aseguradas unas buenas carcajadas. Algunas madrugadas después de una noche de fiesta en rumbo a mi casa era necesaria una parada estratégica para comer unos tacos y aunque a veces al llegar ya estaban cerrados era común encontrar a los taqueros disfrutando de una botella de whisky después de una larga noche laboral y siempre dispuestos a compartirla con uno.

Asi que para mi la mejor taqueria es donde se encuentra esa amistad que lo hace sentir a uno como en casa. A parte de el rango de salsas y los diferente cortes de carnes, esa relación entre el cliente, su taquero y su tortillera es el mejor ingrediente para un buen taco.

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