Tacos have come a long way in the United States, graduating from grocery store kits as the single point of entry to street-style tacos served from trucks and eaten on the fly. This latter format has inspired an entire subset of taco eating, and it can include authentic Mexican ingredients as well as gourmet, local or global ones.
Here in Baton Rouge, Jay Ducote’s popular year-old White Star Market booth Gov’t Taco has introduced a vibrant line-up of fixed and revolving taco types, while spots like The Rum House, Creole Cabana, Blue Corn Tequila & Tacos and others offer lengthy lists of gourmet tacos made with fresh combinations of proteins and vegetables. The Rock Paper Taco truck, a regular fixture at Tin Roof Brewing Co., is known for more than a dozen themed tacos named for Baton Rouge’s most traveled streets. These modern spots join a healthy scene of authentic taquerias in town, which includes places like La Morenita, La Tiendita, Los Plebes and La Tienda Latina Taqueria.
But what about street tacos at home? What’s the best way to bring the allure of restaurant and food truck tacos to your own table?
It’s easy. With a little pre-planning and the right ingredients, you can create memorable street tacos with minimal cooking and fuss.
Here are a few tips.
Start with really good tortillas
But here in the Capital Region, we have access to locally made Hola Nola tortillas through independent supermarkets. Available in both corn and flour, these tortillas are the perfect size and texture for homemade street tacos.
Move to the grill
Anything grilled is a slam dunk when tucked in a tortilla. Prep your grill and toss on marinated sirloin, chicken breasts or thighs, fresh shrimp and fish kebabs (grouper works great), summer squash, eggplant, peppers of all sorts, scallions and, of course, summer corn.
Use summer tomatoes to make a vibrant, easy salsa
You know it, and I know it: There is nothing like a fresh tomato in the summertime. Imagine how good fresh salsa tastes when you use a ripe Creole tomato as its base. It’s sublime. And it’s easy. Combine chopped tomato with finely diced onion and mild or hot peppers, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, salt and fresh-squeezed lime juice.
Expand your vegetable horizons
Corn and peppers have long had a seat at the taco table, but there are so many other terrific vegetables to use in tacos. Two of my recent favorites are cauliflower, (inspiration provided by MJ’s Café’s delectable buffalo cauliflower and chickpea wrap), and mushrooms, thanks to the beautiful supply available through Red Stick Market vendor Mushroom Maggie’s Farm. One of the tacos pictured above features grilled oyster mushrooms and fresh grilled corn. It’s served on a corn tortilla smeared with homemade lime avocado spread and topped with Westdome Nursery sunflower shoots.
So this summer, get creative. And say so long to the boxed taco kit.
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.