7 local ingredients to pickup for a DIY taco night

Taco Tuesday started decades ago among enterprising Tex-Mex restaurants as a way to jump start an otherwise slow night. But the weekly occasion has by no means been limited to eateries. Busy home cooks, especially those with families, have long welcomed the Taco Tuesday directive. 

And why not? Being told what to make one night a week is a welcome salve, but that’s not to say everyone’s home concoctions look and taste the same. Within the confines of taco night are infinite styles and ingredients, from old-school boxed crispy tacos stuffed with ground beef to authentic street tacos made with a double layer of warmed corn tortillas. Local stores and vendors offer plenty of options to help you keep things interesting. 

1. Fresh onion and cilantro
While proteins may anchor a taco, it’s ingredients like chopped onion and cilantro that give the dish its finish, texture and personality. Find them at local grocers. 

2. Peppers
Adding a spicy touch, peppers offer a punchy counterpoint to grilled or braised meats. Find them at Latin American markets.

3. Salsa picante by Valentina
This is one brand of spicy red salsa that’s delectable on homemade tacos, thin in consistency and bracing in flavor. Find it at Latin American markets. 

4. Corn tortillas by ¡Hola Nola!
This Geismar-based line of fresh flour and corn tortillas includes a street taco-sized option with texture and flavor beyond reproach. Find it at local grocery stores.

5. Queso fresco
This mild cheese is sold in wheels or wedges and is meant to be crumbled over tacos. Its fine texture and semi-sweet flavor give it a refreshing finish to tacos that’s a nice change from Americanized grated cheddar. Find it at local supermarkets.

6. Taco seasoning by ¡Hola Nola!
Season your protein of choice with a filler-free, finely ground amalgam of paprika, salt, chili peppers, dehydrated onion, cumin, dehydrated garlic and oregano. Find it at local grocery stores.

7. Crema
Think sour cream, but thinner and milder. Pleasing crema brings a hint of tang, offsetting spicy peppers and seasonings. Find it at Latin American markets.  

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of 225 magazine.