A popular thing to do these days it to have Taco Tuesdays. Why limit tacos to just once a week, though? Here in Mexico, it’s Taco Every Day. If your idea of a taco is a crunchy shell, ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato, you may be in for a surprise when you order your first one south of the border. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at common types of tacos in Mexico and also learn some useful words and phrases for ordering them.
While seasoned ground beef may be the most common taco filling in the US, it’s something you won’t find in Mexico. Here’s a list of some different taco fillings you’ll come across in Mexico in both Spanish and English:
carne asada = beef
bistec = steak
adobada = marinated pork
carnitas = braised/simmered pork
chorizo = sausage
chicarrón = fried pork belly
birria = goat/mutton stew
cabeza = beef cheek
lengua = beef tongue
tripita/tripa = tripe
pescado = fish
camarón = shrimp
pulpo = octopus
papas = potatoes
frijoles = beans
Just about every type of taco is said as “tacos de…” except for one, and it just may be the best if you ask me:
Tacos al pastor
Tacos al pastor are similar to shawarma, but pork is used instead of lamb. Often, a pineapple is placed atop the rotating spit of meat. It’s cut from time to time to allow the juice to soak into the meat. There’s a reason people line up out the door at the most popular al pastor places – it’s that good!
Different Types of Tacos
It’s not very common to find a hard-shelled taco in Mexico like you usually see in Tex-Mex joints in the US. Rather, they’re usually served in soft tortillas. There are, however, a few different types of tacos you may encounter:
tacos dorados = fried tacos
tacos blanditos = soft tacos
tacos sudados/tacos de canasta = “sweaty” tacos/basket tacos
Don’t let that last name throw you off. These are actually just steamed tacos that are often served by small restaurants and street vendors. Generally speaking, when you order tacos here they’ll be in a soft tortilla.
You might be bummed to hear it, but tacos in Mexico are almost always sin queso (without cheese). Here are some of the most common toppings you’ll find:
rábanos = radishes
encurtidos = pickled veggies
pepino = cucumber
cebolla = onion
cilantro = cilantro
salsa verde = green salsa
salsa roja = red salsa
salsa picante = hot sauce
To specify what you do or don’t want on your taco, use the words con (with) or sin (without). You can ask for them con queso (with cheese), but you’ll probably get a funny look and just be given and charged for a quesadilla. If you want everything, just say “con todo” (with everything).
First and foremost, let’s learn how to order your tacos en Español:
Yo quiero (number) tacos de (type) con (toppings).
That will get you a nice plate of tacos wherever you are. Now let’s learn some more taco-related Spanish:
Los tacos son una comida tradicional Mexicana.
Tacos are a traditional Mexican food.
¿Dónde están los mejores tacos?
Where are the best tacos?
Me gustan mucho los tacos.
I like tacos a lot.
Me encantan los tacos.
I love tacos.
Quiero comer todos los tacos.
I want to eat all the tacos.
Podría comer tacos todos los días.
I could eat tacos every day.
Me gusta comer tacos en la calle.
I like to eat tacos in the street.
¿Qué tipo de tacos son estos?
What type of tacos are these?
¿Cuánto cuesta cada taco?
How much does each taco cost?
¿Esta salsa es picante?
Is this sauce spicy?
(No) me gusta la comida picante.
I like (don’t like) spicy food.
Can I try it?
Estos tacos son deliciosos.
These tacos are delicious.
Is your mouth watering yet? I’m sure you can’t wait to get out there and use your Spanish to order up some delicious, authentic tacos! Before we go, answer this question in the comments below so we can see what the most popular type of taco is amongst our readers.
¿Qué taco es tu favorito?
Which taco is your favorite?
About the Author:sasha
Sasha is a teacher, student, writer, photographer, web designer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they’re currently planning a trip through Central/South America.
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