Ali Khan's 6 Favorite Taco Spots
Roll along with Ali's favorite stops for great tacos.
In 2017, I declared Pueblo Viejo my fave taco joint in Austin. A perfect combo of bigger-than-your-average-street-tacos sizing, a menu after my own heart with slow braised-lamb and steak mixed with chorizo as fillings, and then there is that sauce. Down in Austin, a green creamy sauce made almost entirely of serrano peppers is a go-to taco condiment, and Pueblo serves it up with everything. Their chicharrones in salsa verde are pretty dreamy too.
#Chefdriven tacos carry a price tag - like $8 for a steak taco - but make no mistake: the street tacos one would fine a few hours south of this Santa Barbara taqueria in LA don't come with this much steak, cooked a perfect medium-rare, nor of this quality. The fun keeps going with ceviche tostadas, made with sushi grade fish and tempura cauliflower.
Go to: Corazon Cocina
Like I said great taco finds can be found at Mexican meat markets, and Victor's in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles is just another sterling example. I would come here multiple times a week when I worked out of an office nearby, and was floored by the chorizo and particularly the carnitas. One Friday I noticed a huge batch being made and asked what the big order was about. Apparently on the weekends they sell the carnitas by the pound, and families will show up clearing them out of hundreds of pounds of carnitas in a weekend. Yeah, that's a good sign.
In general, if you are looking for authentic Mexican tacos, look no further than a good carniceria aka a Mexican butcher shop. In Austin, La Michoacana is my go-to for amazing chorizo and skirt steak to grill at home, plus hardwood charcoal, but no shopping trip would be complete without a few tacos, stuffed with meat on corn tortillas for $2 a pop. One makes a great mini meal; three, and you are walking out full. This is my go-to for carnitas in Austin.
Taqueria Mi Trailita
My love affair with tacos began as a late-night fix and Taqueria Mi Trailita is the go-to for late nights, serving midnight most nights and 1 a.m. on Saturdays. One thing you will notice that sets Taqueria Mi Trailita apart is the time. Most spots crank tacos out quick - it's kind of a must in a late-night food situation. But the team in this little trailer takes their time because they make their tortillas to order. Even after being in LA for 20 years, I had a lot to learn about tortillas made to order, and they are worth the time and money. Can't go wrong with the tripa (fried tripe), the barbacoa (slow-cooked beef) and the fajita (skirt steak).
When I was in Santa Barbara shooting Cheap Eats, one of the chefs we featured took me on a taco tour of the town, starting with Lily's. As glamorous as Santa Barbara is, the town has legit Mexican, and Lily's is as real-deal as a taco joint gets, including serving up the funky bits, like offal. It took me moving to Texas to get into lengua (beef tongue), and now I make a point to find it where I can. Lily's serves that plus beef cheek, lips and eyes. I stuck to the lengua and cheek. Hey, I'm no Andrew Zimmern (but I hope to achieve his fearless eating status someday)