NYC view
Taco Topics & Events

Upscale Mexican vs Casual Taco Spots

NYC view
NYC view

What proceeds are ramblings on tacos: So upscale/gourmet vs casual Mexican, what’s better and yes it’s only my opinion. Like trying to make a gourmet hot dog, a real street taco loses its appeal and simplicity. A classic taco consists of meat, cilantro and onions. Tacos often are double wrapped in tortillas; most people think that’s so if the taco breaks you have another. That’s not really the case it’s more the case of poverty, this traditional style was out of necessity to double up on the corn tortilla to be more filling when the meat was scarce. So yes over the years especially in America the taco has been done up a bit more. There are toppings and meats that stray from the standard adorning many menus.

A gourmet Mexican place tends to focus on a brand identity and how they are perceived to the masses. While a good taqueria focuses on the food first and develops the atmosphere in the process. Life is short No one is really happy saying “I go for the atmosphere.” A gourmet Mexican place to me is like a car that looks fast with a slow engine, it leaves you disappointed, its rarely done well at least for the taco. The taco is beautiful in its simplicity.

I’ve eaten at a restaurant in Washington D.C. that focused so hard on this fantasized “Latin heat atmosphere.” In the end I was left with a place with inattentive staff, poorly mannered bar tenders, and in many cases reheated food from the microwave. (yes a waiter told me he “nuked” my tacos in microwave so they weren’t cold)

I’ve eaten at other great high end restaurants who made just bland Mexican food no better than an Ortega enchilada kit. Authenticity is usually lost when it comes to certain places, sometimes you’ll have a chef from Mexico City and sometimes you’ll have Bill who cooks Italian but makes ok tacos. No frills Mexican places with authentic people and food will usually win out. And if you find a place with a little abuela in the back you’re going to find something great. With a gourmet taco you’re trying to make something out of it that it isn’t, yes you can make some fun twists and fusion styles that are amazing. (my pick for that is Gringo’s Tacos by the way!) . However you start to push the barrier of what defines it, is it a taco or is it’s own thing? I just have a hard time getting excited about paying a premium and sitting in a formal restaurant for bland street food, stick with classics and the restaurants making flavor not hype the priority, that is really what it comes down to. Anyway keep the taco casual.

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