Ah, the beloved taco! A charismatic little gem of flavor. From the portability to the versatility, everything about the taco makes it a perfect item to “Americanize.”
The tacos found on most Mexican restaurant menus are a far cry from the original, although a “street foods” movement has begun.
The street foods trend, which is similar to what you would find on the streets of Mexico City, started popping up on menus a few years ago. There are a few differences in the Americanized taco, and the Mexican street taco.
First of all, a street taco is made with a corn tortilla, not flour. The fillings can range from vegetables to organ meats of various animals. A street taco will come with four main garnishments: onions, cilantro, lime and salsa. However, additional toppings are welcome.
In anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, our team of writers decided to conduct a street taco tour of Tipton County. Using a rubric in which each restaurant could earn 15 points for the tortilla components, 50 points for filling elements, 15 points for topping items and 20 points for value-added bonuses, we rated local tacos.
JOSE'S MEXICAN STREET FOOD
Our favorite stop on the taco tour was Jose’s Mexican Street Food in Munford. It’s hard to compete with a restaurant with “Street Food” in the title. The “paiza-style” tacos were the holy grail of street tacos.
Jose’s was everything we wanted and more. The choices were extensive, the corn tortillas were made-to-order, the presentation was beautiful and there was even a toppings bar! They had a perfect score in the toppings items category, and all of their other scores were significantly higher than their competitors. All of our staff members were impressed with the homemade tortillas, the flavorful fillings and the beautiful presentation.
I tried the cow tongue taco, and let me just say, “Wow!”
The meat was so tender and flavorful. I was expecting an earthy, gritty texture, but it was cooked and seasoned perfectly. It tasted like any other cut of beef. Out of my carnita, pastor and lengua (cow tongue) tacos, the lengua was my favorite. Seriously, this was the best taco I have ever had.
One of the only things we could find fault with was the salsa that came on the tacos. It was a little too spicy for some.
Jose’s finished in first place, with an overall score of 94 out of 100. The food was legit, the atmosphere was authentic and the owner, Jose, was so friendly.
At the time of publication, we have learned that Jose’s has closed temporarily, to bring back the original Los Reyes Mexican Restaurant. However, there is still hope for the José’s menu.
Owner Jose Juan Reyes issued this statement to his customers:
“I am sorry to announce to you guys the closure of Joses in Munford. I wanted to bring my roots of Mexican food to you guys. Unfortunately, it is not working like I had it planned in my head. I have to accept that this new project was a failure. But in return, I would like to receive the support in what I like to call the best of both worlds. We will be closed temporarily until further notice to bring back the original Los Reyes Mexican Grill in Munford Tennessee. Now you will have two menus to choose from, Los Reyes Mexican Grill and Joses Mexican Street Food. Me and my wife really hope to count on the support of our loyal customers. We will keep y’all updated on our reopening day. May God bless you all.”
Upon being seated at El Presidenté in Covington, we immediately noticed their street taco menu, or “dirty tacos” as they call it. The lunch option comes with a choice of any two tacos, black beans, cheese dip, chipotle sauce and flour tortilla chips on the side.
El Presidenté received the highest marks in fillings and toppings. Their fillings were very moist and tender, and their toppings were traditional with additional options as well. There was several filling options which included nopales (cactus), allowing vegetarians to enjoy street tacos as well. The chorizo taco and the pastor taco were the stars. The chipotle sauce was a fan favorite.
The lowest scores came from the tortilla components. Although corn tortillas were used, they ended up falling apart. We concluded that if the tortillas were double stacked, it would remedy this problem.
El Presidenté finished in second place, with an overall score of 85 out of 100. We were looking for a street taco menu and they delivered. The service was friendly and the food was delicious.
The day we visited Las Margaritas in Covington (there are also locations in Atoka and Millington), it was such a nice day and we enjoyed the patio seating. We instantly noticed their street taco menu mimicked El Presidenté, as they share an owner, however, there were slight differences.
Margaritas received its highest scores in tortilla components and bonuses. The tortillas stayed together for the most part, and their presentation earned a few more points. The pickled onions provided a nice pop of color.
The chipotle sauce at Las Margaritas was different from the previous chipotle sauce we had. We did not enjoy this one as much. The fillings, although delicious, were a bit messier than we anticipated.
Editor Echo Day pointed out, “This might not be a good first date option.”
Las Margaritas finished in third place, with an overall score of 80 out of 100. Great service, great food and great atmosphere offered a good street taco experience. The wide variety of taco fillings, provided a sense of adventure for some.
Said sports editor Jeff Ireland, “The pastor with pineapples was something I was surprised I liked.”
Our last stop on our taco tour brought us to Casa Mexicana in Atoka. We were hoping to find street tacos, but alas there were none. We still tried their tacos, yet our rubric was not forgiving.
Although not technically street tacos, the tacos were good for what they were. The tortilla was flour, but it stayed together, earning them high scores in the tortilla components. The fillings provided high scores in the flavor category.
The lowest scores came from the toppings and bonus category. The Tacos de Adobada were missing the lime wedge, and although the description indicated they were served on corn tortillas and came with avocado, they were served on flour tortillas and the avocado was missing.
It was a little disappointing that there were only four actual taco varieties to choose from. We were used to several options with the other restaurants.
Casa Mexicana finished fourth, with an overall score of 66 out of 100. We understand that Casa Mexicana has not jumped on the street taco bandwagon, but we were on a mission to sample tacos. Their tacos were good for what they were-tasty and filling.
As Ireland put it, “Not very ‘street,’ but still pretty good.”
No doubt, Casa Mexicana will continue to stay true to their original concept, and leave the street menu to the others.