Tacolicious


In my foodies opinion, tacos are probably Mexico’s greatest contribution to the culinary world after the Chipotle pepper. The soft corn or flower tortilla is one of the quickest and tastiest vehicles to transport varieties of prepared meats, seafood, cheeses, vegetables and sauces. Done right, tacos deliver a taste bud explosion, in 4 bites or less.


Being the world’s perfect food. “Tacos have a long, tasty history in Mexico. In fact, the taco pre-dates Europeans in Mexico and there is evidence that the Aztecs traditionally ate tacos filled with little fish. The food made such an impression on early Spanish conquistadors that Bernal Diaz del Castillo documented the first taco feast enjoyed by Europeans. While they would later plunder, steal and kill the creators of the taco, the food made a big impression on the conquistadors. How could it not? They’re the perfectly convenient, versatile and hand-held delicious food.”

After being around for over 6000 years, tacos have been intriguingly and sometimes grossly interpreted in many countries around the world. From the US, with their lame excuse of a crispy shelled taco (Bell) to India, with their own savory versions of curried meats wrapped in ‘naan’ bread. Icons of the street food world, tacos are best enjoyed outside of crowded food stands particularly after long nights of alcoholic consumption. Essential to this act of taco debauchery are limitless lime wedges, gallons of spicy sauces and of course a Chelada to wash it all down. You might be wondering what in the world is a Chelada, well here goes the recipe and about the only way I’ll drink more than one beer.

Preparation:

I can go on and on about the delicious nature of the taco. How they’ve been reinvented throughout the years but all I want is immediate taco gratification. Now where would I do this in Montreal is the big question? Well, trust me, when it comes to tacos, I get around and here are my favorite spots:

1. La Matraca 4607, Rue Saint-Denis
This is hands down, the best taqueria I’ve encountered so far. La Matraca feels like walking into a typical Mexico City taqueria and they have yet to disapoint. Consistently good (trust me I’m there every weekend), clean and friendly enough without disturbing my eating ritual. Word of advice, don’t listen to the haters who think it’s too expensive. For $0.99 tacos, Taco Bell is in the West Island. Go there and hide. Now if you’re into authentic quality, La Matraca is the real deal.
This travelling taco truck is Montreal’s answer to quality street food. They’ve brilliantly managed to find the loophole in this city’s absurd law against street food. Grumman serves up international gourmet versions of tacos right out of their pea green truck at just about every cultural event in Montreal. If you can’t stand the line ups however, they grace us with their culinary delights at Nouveau Palais every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from midnight til 3 am. Keep it up Grumman, your brave taco warrior skills will bring more of your kind to this street hungry city!
3. Itacate 67 Beaubien Est
A few words about Itacate. It’s clean, affordable, offers a decent service, generous portions and I do particularly enjoy the little sope they offer as a free entrée. Their sopa de tortilla is a perfect comfort food but the topic here is tacos so let me be specific. As far as I know (I still have to try Limon on Notre-Dame), Itacate is just about the only Mexican restaurant serving up some decent and consistently good cochinita pibil tacos. It’s worth a visit and won’t break the bank.

Now if any of you have ever been to the Yucatan, the best and only style of taco you should try, are the tacos de cochinita pibil. This dish consists of slow roasted pork, wrapped in a banana leaf and marinated in a variety of acidic citrus juices and colored with savoury achiote paste. “Traditionally, cochinita pibil was buried in a pit with a fire at the bottom to roast it. The Mayan word pibil means “buried”.” Finally, one of the most important elements to complete this delicacy are the pickled red onions. Cochinita is nothing without flavour popping “cebollita morada”. Which incidentally are incredibly easy to make and here’s the recipe:

Pickled Red Onions Recipe

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