National Taco Day, Baja Edition: 5 World Champion Tacos to Tackle South of the Border

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
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Bill Esparza
Seafood taco Mecca at Mariscos El Mazateño


All this taco talk from those crazy New Yorkers has got me thinking about my upcoming trip to Baja for the 3rd Annual Baja Culinary Fest, October 24-27, where some of the best tacos in Mexico can be savored from the taquerias to carts and to beach shacks. Certainly, the best seafood tacos in Mexico are in Baja California.


Baja could give D.F. a run for its money in terms of taco culture, creativity, and flavors. Mexico City could be compared to the '85 Chicago Bears of tacos, and Baja--mostly Tijuana and Ensenada--would be the '72 Dolphins. If Mexico is the NFL of the taco lifestyle, then L.A. and the O.C. are the Division 1 college football equivalent of taco madness; we're Cornhuskers! New York City tacos?=High School football. But, enough of that; let's go to the source, Baja California,for a tour of some of the best pinche tacos on the planet, just a 2 hour drive south from La Naranja.  


El mero mero, Gustavo Arellano, has said that National Taco Day is some bullshit holiday created in 2000 by Chuy's in Austin. It's not something we get too worked up about, as habitual taco users, but today is as good as any other day to consider some outstanding tacos down Mexico way.


Tijuana


El Mazateño-The camaron enchilado, or spicy shrimp taco is the Tijuana taco nonpareil--a mound of buttery, fat shrimp in an oiled tortilla brightened by pico de gallo, crema agria(sour cream) and salsa verde. 


Everyone gets one of these, even if you're going for the 1000th time, but consider the pulpo enchilado, or spicy octopus taco, dripping with garlic and cooked to an almost tendon-like texture, spilling out of the taco. 


This just might be my new favorite at Tijuana's top destination taqueria. 


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Bill Esparza
3 animales, La Cahua del Yeyo


La Cahua del Yeyo-The pulpo al olivo, or octopus with olives, is a Tijuana classic that receives much less attention than the far reaching camaron enchilado, but it's just as worthy. I love it here, but the greatest temptation at this Coked-up taqueria (Coca Cola sponsored, not Tony Montana's Yeyo) is the taco de tres animales: manta ray, buttery tuna fin, and blood pudding. It's a fascinating combination of offal by land and sea.


It's a blend of flavors that could be from the mind of a modernist chef, yet they are presented humbly on a tortilla with a vegetable medley that's made for their signature shrimp stew.It's a one of a kind! 
 

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Bill Esparza
Taquitos de marlin, La Cahua del Yeyo



Mariscos Ruben-There isn't a place in Mexico that makes a marlin taco as good as Sonora-native Mirta Gonzalez's taquitos de marlin. The fine smoked fish is packed and rolled into a slightly thick and rigid tortilla that has a nice chew when it has been cooked over charcoal. The happy ending is a pair of dressings of chipotle and avocado sauces, pico de gallo, and shredded purple onion that send this dish over the top.  


Ensenada


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Bill Esparza
Taco de pescado, Los Originales Tacos de Pescado, Ensenada


Los Originales Tacos de Pescado-Partisans will squirt crema agria in your eye over which is their favorite fish taco stand--Puesto Fenix, La Floresta, or the one's their mom makes--but when this fish taco shack is on, and you get it made to order, there's no other place I'd rather be.  


The salsa selection alone brings so many flavor profiles and no matter how big you condiment, the tempura fried filet is hefty enough to bring savory fish and crispy, golden batter to every bite.  


Playas de Rosarito


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Bill Esparza
Tacos perrones, Tacos El Yaqui


Tacos El Yaqui-This Baja institution has almost single-handedly upheld the culinary reputation of this beach town most famous for the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and the desiccated frat boy bars that have seen better days. 


The taco is a northern taco de guisado: juicy carne asada comes on a flour tortilla, saturated with delicous pot beans, guacamole and the ritual practice of the taco life edict: onions, cilantro, salsa, and lime to taste.  


You can get down with these tacos 365 days a year in Baja California, where National Taco Day is just--Monday!


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