National Taco Day October 4th!

Thank goodness for all you fine people for keeping me informed of the important national holidays! I had no idea that October 4th was National Taco Day until a few of you commented on my Facebook. And I’m so glad you did as I had had a craving for dirty Chinese food. That idea quickly went out the door as did I to go get tacos from Taqueria Las Teresitas!

For this under recognized holiday, I ordered a feast! Considering I have already had all their tacos, I decided to try something new. One of my absolute favorite Mexican items is chile verde sauce. So, appropriately, I ordered the Chile Verde platter which consists of pork tips and potatoes in a delicious chile tomatillo verde sauce with rice, beans, and assorted taco toppings. Chadd got the Steak a la Diabla which was steak in a deep red spicy garlic sauce with beans, rice, and assorted taco toppings. We each also got a chorizo taco and of course, multiple salsas from the salsa bar to go with some tortilla chips. Everything was fantastic. I must admit that I think my Chile Verde platter was better than the Steak Diabla but Chadd would disagree. I was able to still taste the potatoes and pork flavors with the chile verde but Chadd’s diabla sauce covered up much of the meat flavor in my opinion, just too overpowering. But, to each their own!

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Fun Facts provided by National Taco Day:

  • Last year, Americans at over 4.5 billion tacos
  • The word taco is believed to be derived from explosives Mexicans used to use. These explosives were gunpowder wrapped in paper.
  • Ensenada, Mexico is a city that claims to have invented the fish taco
  • It is thought that the first taco truck popped up in New York City in 1966.

 

Taco Count: 246-250

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Taco Review: Taqueria Los Paisanos

 

lospas3I have begun to expand my taco eating into St. Paul! I recently went to Taqueria Los Paisanos on E 7th Street with some friends. A small corner spot with what appears to be a brand new lighted sign but also a pretty weathered front awning, Los Paisanos showed promise in my theory that the more run down a joint looks, the better the tacos.

 

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Not being extremely hungry, I only ordered 3 tacos (it should be noted that if you are going to go out to dinner later, you probably shouldn’t have a huge plate of super nachos for late lunch). My tacos consisted of carne asada, al pastor, and lengua. The steak and pork were both solid tacos indeed and good examples of how these meats should taste. The lengua was not the best I’ve ever had but a really decent attempt. Just a bit too chewy for my taste and the cubes of meat were larger than I would prefer for a meat with that texture. If you are a texture sensitive person then you probably would not be pleased with these tongue tacos. But with plenty of other meats on the menu, don’t let that deter you from coming here. They also give you a squeeze bottle of chile verde sauce and a bottle of red sauce to bring to the table. The chile verde sauce was pretty amazing and the red sauce had an awesome spicy kick that was surprising to all of us. Much spicier than a lot of house salsas out there. I should have “accidentally” put those salsa bottles in my purse when I left.

Atron-5000, who you will remember from this post, got a carne asada torta. A torta is a Mexican sandwich. I have been wanting to try a torta for a while now but some of the places I have visited look like they are serving the sammich on a bland hamburger bun, which does not look like appetizing. Atron-5000 was a brave soul to try one here and he was not disappointed! It was a huge sandwich with lots of tender sliced steak, a flaky and fresh bun, lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomato. I must go back here to get one. After some fairly run-of-the-mill tacos, I was pretty jealous of his sammich.

My friends Michaelann and Joey came with also and they got quite the feast of loaded nachos, tacos, a burrito, and enchiladas. As their eyes were bigger than their stomachs, they ended up bringing the burrito home for later but cleared their plates otherwise. I had a few chomps of the nachos and I was not overly impressed. The ground beef was over seasoned and super salty. The nacho cheese was basic canned liquid cheese like you would get at a sporting event. Not really my cup-o-tea but then again, I don’t usually go to a taqueria for nachos so this poor nacho performance was not a deciding factor in a taco review for me.

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Taco Count: 241-243

Taco Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Los Paisanos may have been deserving of a full 4 considering the reviews that A-tron gave about the torta but since I did not eat it, I cannot judge. Next time!

Taco Review: Pineda Tacos

 

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My mom had been bugging me for MONTHS to take her to a good taco place as part of Tacopalooza2015. I looked at my list of places to go and consulted with Yelp and Google+ to try to impress mi madre. Pineda Tacos received a 4/5 on Yelp and a 4.6/5 on Google+. Tacopalooza2015 gave Pineda a 1/5. There is only one excuse for the disappointment we encountered at Pineda, we must have gone to the wrong location. I thought the reviews were specifically for the location we went to but I could be wrong. We went to the Pineda on East Lake Street in Minneapolis but there are also locations in West St. Paul and Plymouth. I seriously do not understand how it got such glowing reviews from these other sites. I thought the tacos were disgusting. And my mother was not impressed either.

You would think that upon walking into this large restaurant with Mexican soap operas blaring on the TV and a dude completely decked out in a cowboy hat and boots sipping on a Coke from a glass bottle would be a sure sign of a top-notch place. You’d be wrong.

Their menu was poorly displayed and options very limited. They have subway style ordering where you can customize your meal with the toppings you desire: lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, cheese, etc. But I like to keep my tacos simple so went with a bit of onion and cilantro on top of two chorizo tacos and a bit of cheese on the refried beans. My mom did the same but with the al pastor tacos per my recommendation. We agreed to swap a taco each so we could try each other’s meal.

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While the execution of the chorizo tacos was terrible I sort of like the idea of it. These chorizo tacos differed from others I’ve had in that Pineda added hunks of onion, tomato, and peppers to the chorizo meat but the meat itself was sooooo soggy and greasy. I felt like I was eating sausage baby food.

The al pastor my mom had was absolutely disgusting. I took one bite and just couldn’t do anymore. It looked dry to begin with so I added more salsa verde than I normally do but I still felt like I was chewing on day old pork and couldn’t taste any marinade or seasoning. Al pastor should be a gorgeous deep red color but this was a sad tan. I think they really just used unseasoned pork.

I owe my poor mama another outing as she was pestering me for months to take her out to a good taco place after an afternoon of biking. Well, I struck out. You can’t win them all but I never would have guessed that this meal would have been as bad as it was. Also note that the cheese on the beans above has not melted into the beans. That’s because the beans were stone cold.

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She looks happy and excited here but this was before we knew what sort of sadness we were biting into.

Maybe a different Pineda location is better. Maybe everyone else that rated it doesn’t know any better. Maybe I got there on an off day (I highly doubt it). I will try to visit the West St. Paul location and re-rate Pineda but I can tell you right now to stay away from the one on East Lake and Hiawatha!

Taco Rating: 1 out of 5

Taco Count: 219 (plus one bite)

Camping Tacos

I love camping. Everything tastes better cooked outside. When we go camping, we eat gooooood! Night one has recently been steak and lobster with an Orlando Blooming Onion. Yes, you read that right. Steak and lobster. Proof:

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Lobstrosities!!!

And of course we always have too much. Instead of giving the uneaten steak to the fish, we will bag it up and sink it in the lake to save for our breakfast the next morning. You know what that means, STEAK AND EGG TACOS!

I went camping twice this year and sadly, when we were in the Apostle Islands, I screwed up and didn’t sink the steak well enough. The wind picked up over night and that equals larger waves on shore. My relatively light weight limestone rock wasn’t heavy enough to weigh down the steaks in rougher water so they floated away overnight. Either that or a bear walked up on them and swiped them. The result remains the same… no steak and eggs that time.

We also try to get in a meal of fried fish tacos while camping. But alas, not this year. We didn’t go fishing in the Apostle Islands and our fishing haul in the Boundary Waters was sort of sad. I caught 2 monster Northerns but they never made it back to our camp site. We strung both of the 6 pound behemoths on the same cheap stringer and hauled them behind us for a few miles in rough water. Between the strain on the stringer and their sharp teeth, there was only frayed rope left behind the canoe where glorious fish should have been. Luckily the fish whisperer A-tron pulled through and caught us yet another monster Northern (I still claim that it was one of mine just swimming in the bay of our camp site). This guy was enough to feed 3 hungry adults. And not just a couple of fish nuggets, like actually made us full. Even though we got our beloved fish meal, it was raining and sad the day we cooked them up. I didn’t want to bust out the tortillas and risk them getting wet and soggy. And they were all the way across camp and it was raining. Did I mention it was raining?

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The fish whisperer and the largest small mouth bass he has ever caught. We didn’t eat this though

Between the 2 camping trips I ate 5 breakfast tacos. While maybe not the best breakfast tacos I have ever had, they were still amazing as I said before that everything just tastes better in the woods, cooked over an open fire.

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Homemade Shrimp Tacos

 

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Taco Pickles and Orange Sauce were sitting in the fridge just waiting to be used. I didn’t have much in the way of protein in the house but I remembered I had shrimpers! That’s when I realized that the Orange Sauce would pair excellently with sauteed shrimp. Corn tortillas with shrimpers sauteed in Orange Sauce with lettuce, taco pickles, an additional drizzle of Orange Sauce, and a small crumbling of feta cheese. I wanted queso fresco but didn’t have any on hand and was too lazy to go out and get some. I know, feta seems kinda weird to put on tacos but it actually kind of worked. But Mexican crema would have been better than the cheese though so the next night when I made these again, I used just that. I ate 7 of these puppies in 2 days. Much Shrimp. Such Yum. 

 

Sorry these pictures are so terrible, we have bad lighting in the house. But I assure you they were yummy! And easy!

Taco Count: 214-221

TacGO or TacNO: The Taco Salad

The taco salad. It’s like a taco, but in salad form.


TacGO: It literally has taco in the name.

TacNO: Don’t be stupid, it’s a salad. You can’t pick it up and eat it with your hands.

TacGO: It has all the required components of the taco.

TacNO: It doesn’t have a tortilla!

TacGO:  

TacNO: It’s hardly a tortilla, it’s bowl shaped and not flat like a taco.

TacGO: If a tortilla not being flat disqualifies it from being a taco then the Doritos Locos Taco doesn’t count as a taco because it has a chip for a shell instead of a tortilla.

TacNO: Did I mention that lettuce is the worst part of a taco and the best part is the delicious meaty filling which a taco salad is clearly lacking.

TacGO: With the taco salad, you have more surface area to pack in as much meat as you want!

TacNO: That’s what he said.

TacGO: Look, the taco salad is the improved form of a taco because it’s easier to eat and you get a better variety of toppings.

TacNO: Taco salads are just half-assed nachos for people who feel bad about eating cheese.


Choose your side in the great taco salad debate of 2015. Polls will be open until October 10th!


 

The results are in! With 8 votes against and 4 votes for, it has been decided the a Taco Salad does NOT count as a taco! Rack up another win for TacNO!

Taco Review: Pancho Villa

In an effort to share my taco eating endeavors with more friends and to make a push to get back on track with my taco count, I met up with LaurenTaco at her favorite Twin Cities taco spot, Pancho Villa.

Sitting at a small outdoor table along Nicolette with a Mariachi Band strumming some tunes inside, we chit-chatted over chips and salsa for quite a while. I ordered the campechanos meal which consists of 3 tacos with a chorizo, pastor, and nopales mixture topped with diced onions and cilantro. I was under the impression that this would be 3 separate tacos (1 chorizo, 1 pastor, 1 nopales) so when the server came out to inform me about 5 minutes after taking my order that the kitchen was out of nopales, I figured I would just get a lengua taco instead. This was followed by a stare-down that lasted a beat longer than socially comfortable as we both tried to figure out what the other was getting at. After a couple of re-explanations by both parties, and some exhausted hamsters running on the little wheels that work our brains, I finally figured out that this was supposed to be a meat mixture, not individual meats. So I settled with the chorizo and pastor without the nopales. I was pretty disappointed as my last encounter with nopales had been delightful!

I only wish this is what the al pastor meat spit looked like! Thank you image search.

Chorizo goodness

No nopales but this is some of the glory I could have consumed.

I once again proved why I will never become a professional blogger as I didn’t take pictures of this meal or the venue or anything even remarkable about the evening. I blame it on the fact that my phone was almost dead and it was dark out.

There was no house salsa given with the meal which was sort of disappointing as I always want a little kick with my snacks and have found that home made salsas tend to be the most unique. There was Cholula on the table however which is always mighty fine. When I found out the meats were mixed on the taco I was a little afraid that the two flavors would get muddled or that the typically strong sausage flavor of the chorizo might over power the al pastor. This was absolutely not the case. The two meats complimented each other quite well and I scarfed those tacos down in no time. The al pastor was flavorful, tender, and fresh. The only fault I can find is perhaps it was missing the fruity flavor of the pineapple that typically comes with al pastor. The chorizo was savory, not overly greasy, and had a good fine crumble. While the taco was very rich, I can imagine that the nopales would have brightened this taco up a bit. The beans and rice that came as a side were pretty forgettable. But because the tacos were good I can forgive them for this.

I grant Pancho Villa a solid 4 out of 5. A nice, slightly Americanized, Mexican spot with good menu variety, a full bar, and good food!

Taco count: 210-213