Favorite Pictures: The Tacos of Mexico City

Oh, you know you want one (or ten)

Oh, you know you want one (or ten)

Original post: Our Brush with the Great Taco Record

I need to go back.

I need to go back.

Original post: Five-Star Street Tacos

Tacos at Bajo el Cielo de Jalisco

Tacos at Bajo el Cielo de Jalisco

Original post: Tacos Arabes

Tacos al pastor at Tacos Escandon

Tacos al pastor at Tacos Escandon

Original post: Tacos al Pastor

Taco #1000, a spectacular gaona con queso from El Califa.

Taco #1000, a spectacular gaona con queso from El Califa.

Original post: Taco 1000

Spaghetti Taco?

On a corner near my house, a couple sells tacos de guisado out of the back of a pickup truck.  Normally, each guisado is prepared in a tortilla with a small portion of rice.  Yesterday, however, they added spaghetti alfredo (?!?) to my chile relleno before smothering both in a light tomato sauce.  Oh my!  If I only had a camera with me….

México, D.F.

Taco 1000

Saturday marked the end of the great taco challenge.  Pictured below is #1000, a “Gaona con queso” from El Califa.  This spectacular steak and cheese bomb, later smothered in salsa, lime, and slices of avocado, is easily one of the best tacos to be had in the D.F. and Mexico.

Taco #1000, a spectacular gaona con queso from El Califa.

Taco #1000. Although it came with a knife and fork, I assure you such implements were not necessary.

It’s always nice to accomplish something, though counting one’s way to a 1000 tacos is more of an accomplishment-in-jest (or a disgusting exercise in consumption).  Sometimes, fake goals, set in the irony of a faux-celebration, can take on a life of themselves and, often, spoil the enjoyment of an experience.  Not having to count is something to look forward to… but, in this case, the most disgusting part may be that I haven’t lost my appetite for tacos… in fact….

…nah, this morning will be oatmeal and a run.

 

México, D.F.

Taco Count Update: 995

Playing tour guide yesterday brought the opportunity to hop around the various taco haunts in my neighborhood.

  • 3 tacos de guisado from the Chilpancingo food stalls.  The quality here can vary a bit and, on this day, none of these blew me away… though the chicken taco with french fries and grilled onions had its moment.
  • 4 tacos at El Mirador, a cantina by Bosque Chapultepec… Argentine sausage, guacamole, and refried black beans on handmade tortillas.  Oh yeah!
  • Lastly, 3 late-night gringas (similar to al pastor tacos with cheese) from El Tizoncito, a popular spot for high-end taco consumption in La Condesa.

The count so far: 995.

 

México, D.F.

Taco Count Update: 985

Yesterday’s lunch dropped a 20-spot on the total taco count, with two plates of tacos al pastor from Los Arbolitos.  These little gems won’t make the top 5, but they definitely do the trick… and being bite-sized doesn’t hurt either.  The last time I went to Los Arbolitos was the day of the taco challenge, which you can read about here (or check out that excellent taco photo).

So the end (of this foolish, disgusting personal challenge) is definitely getting close!  The count so far: 985.

 

México, D.F.

Taco Count Update: 965

I was in a rush yesterday to get from the British Embassy (which has nice cookies) near Tabacalera to Polanco.  The journey on foot takes about 20 minutes and passes through the business district just north of Reforma and west of the park.  I had only been through here on weekends and in the evenings, when the area is pretty much deserted… but at lunchtime on a Wednesday, the changarros bloom like desert flowers after a rain.

Of course, when there are large numbers of taco stalls, competition usually results in some excellent eats.  I stopped at a stall on Calle Tolstoi (south side of the street. between Escobedo and Dante), that was really just a big flat grill affixed to a bicycle.  Appropriately, the laminated menu proclaimed the name “Bicitaco.”  The steak was so-so, though it seemed to be on par with Mexican tastes that have an affinity for fatty strips of beef, but the longaniza (a type of chorizo), was really nicely done, and, covered in cheese, it was like a little bomb of “sabor.”  What had attracted me to the stall was the pile of alambre (prepared meat, mixed with grilled onions and peppers), which I didn’t end up trying, and a row of interesting, and, as it turned out, fire-breathing salsas.  Definitely worth a return visit.

The count so far: 965.

 

México. D.F.

Taco Count Update: 962

As the total taco count passed 950 over the weekend, it occurred to me that, perhaps, the final climb should be documented by mikesnotes. After all, a thousand tacos (and 0 heart attacks) is not just an every day occurrence.

I double-checked the math and figure that in the 8 months up through yesterday, the total taco count stood at 956. Lunch today was another 6:

  • 4 tacos from the taco de canasta vendor at ITAM, sold from the back of a bicycle. Carried in a basket (or canasta), these pre-made, tortilla-wrapped grease delivery vehicles rock because they’re tiny and cheap (3.50 per), yet taste awesome. The ones I got were filled with mashed potatoes. Add to that some grilled onions that are hidden below (you have to know to ask!) and this might be what they’d serve at a Mexican-Polish restaurant.
  • 2 tacos from Jovitacos, the ITAM institution. There’s something to be said for thinly-sliced grilled steak and onions, wrapped in a shell of crispy grilled cheese, with spectacular salsas. I’m still looking for new tacos to try, but the odds look good that these will be some of the best tacos I’ve had. We’ll have to wait to find out.

So the count now stands at 962.

 

México, D.F.

A Call for Mexico City Taco Recommendations

It is with sad hesitation that I must report: unless time comes to a sudden and spectacular halt, mikesnotes has a mere 46 days to go.  That means, of course, that it’s time to start posting all of the pictures that I haven’t gotten around to posting….

And it also means that my time in taco heaven is about to end.  In 8 months, I’ve scoured the internet, newspapers, and local magazines for suggested taquerías and asked everyone I can find for their recommendations.  I’ve walked the city north to south (yikes!) and tried every stall, restaurant, and street-side grill that offers meat in a tortilla.  Heck, I’ve even tried making my own.  

But, in a city with 27 million people and, it seems, an equal number of taquerías, there is no chance that I could really try them all.  I would appreciate your suggestions.  If it’s a hole in the wall or the second-coming of El Califa, mikesnotes would be ever-so-appreciative if you would leave a comment, here or on any one of the other taco-related posts.  I’ll give it a try.

 

Oh, and at some point in the next month, I’ll be posting my own list of recommendations.

The count so far?  951.

 

México, D.F.

12-cent tacos

Mexico specializes in many things, but nothing may be better than then promotion, especially when it comes to cheap eats.  These tacos in Jalapa work out to a nearly-infinitesimal 1.5 pesos each… about 12 cents.  Oh my!  (They were so-so.)

10 tacos al pastor for the grand price of 15 pesos... less than a buck-twenty.

10 tacos al pastor for the grand price of 15 pesos... less than a buck-twenty.

The record for cheapest taco (that I’ve seen) is 1 peso, albeit for a pre-made taco de canasta at La Merced, here in the D.F.

 

México, D.F.

The Art of the Changarro

It’s hard for me to imagine what México, D.F. would be like without the ubiquitous street vendors.  Throughout the city, on corners, plazas, empty lots, and in front of popular “permanent” businesses, vendors set up shop selling everything from gum, to tchotchkes, to home repair kits, to food like tlacoyos, tacos(!), and tortas.  Some stalls are nothing more than a tray set of a small stand, while others involve a couple of plastic chairs set around a charcoal grill.  And, of course, other stalls are so fixed to the spot that they become as permanent as the more “official” buildings.

The term changarro refers to a single “unofficial” business, one of these small stands or a stand-alone box, while tianguis, which means “market” in nahuatl, signifies a group of stalls.  These local marketplaces aren’t just convenient businesses, but they can become de facto centers of culture and cuisine, whereby local residents, students, and employees descend on a tianguis during meal hours to peruse the cornucopia of dishes and socialize.  These changarro stalls, in one sense are a perfect example of economic and culinary “survival of the fittest,” where the best cooks and the cheapest meals are the ones that survive the competition.  If you know where to go, you can find tacos so heavenly they defy gravity, giant tortas (Mexican sandwiches) with steak, beans, and avocado, and even fresh ceviche (though choose wisely with the last one!).

Tacos Don Memo is one of many changarros in this tianguis that is popular as an eating and socializing hangout with students from nearby Tec. de Monterrey.

Tacos Don Memo, a changarro near Tec. de Monterrey in Mexico City, seems quite popular with students.

Another, less publicized element of these street businesses is the “changarro mafia” that organizes many of the streetside tianguis.  It’s sometimes possible to identify such groups because they all have the same-colored awnings.  Typically, the stalls in a mafia tianguis are run independently, and the shop owners pay a small fee which might range from 20-100 pesos per day, depending on location and size of the stall, to the local mafia representative.  In turn, the mafia provides protection not just from vandals and crime, but also pays off the police — street vendors are, technically, illegal — and ensures that there are no other vendors selling the same product in the tianguis.  If you try to set up your own illegal business too close to a tianguis, just be careful or you might find yourself (hypothetically speaking, of course) at the wrong end of the Mexican version of a baseball bat!

 

México, D.F.