While most of us have seen tacos in the U.S. with ground beef on them, this would be unheard-of in Mexico. People who have lived in areas with a Latin community may be familiar with something more authentic.
Here’s interesting question; do you know what Mexico’s favorite and most common kind of taco is?
From my experience, and according many of my friends who know our country well, the favorite is a very distinct type of taco that northerners are likely never to have seen back home, but are ever-present virtually where ever you go in Mexico:
Tacos al Pastor
If you see how these tacos are made – on a large rotisserie with the meat shaved off the spit – the first word that will probably come into your mind is “shawarma” or “doner kebab.” And, in fact, they have their roots in the shawarma introduced to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants in the mid-twentieth century.
The name, “al pastor,” means “shepherd style” and refers to the lamb from which shawarma is made; tacos al pastor, however are made out of pork.
The pineapple on top of the spit of meat helps to soften the meat.
How are they served?
As you see in the picture above, they are usually served on small corn tortillas; on top of the meat, only cilantro and chopped onion are served. Sometimes a thin slice of the cooked pineapple is added. Many people will add thinly sliced radishes and hot sauce. Mexicans will almost always squeeze lime juice onto their tacos.
People enjoy them with just about any kind of cold drink (beer, soda, natural fruit juices, etc.)
Where, when, how much?
While they have their roots in central Mexico (where the Lebanese settled mostly) they now seem to be available throughout the country. They are served in a variety of locations, ranging from something that looks like a hotdog stand on the street corner to taco shops. They are usually only available in the evening.
They are always cheap. I have seen anything from about twenty five cents a taco to about sixty-five cents, depending on how big they are, what region of Mexico you’re in, and how nice the place is where you’re eating them.
Here in Playa we have quite a number of good taco shops to find this tasty food, including quite a number on Fifth Avenue. One good and popular location is El Fogon (pictured above) on the corner of 30th and Juarez.