Todos Santos Taco Crawl: What Makes a Great Taco, a Great Taco?
by Todos Santos Eco Adventures
Todos Santos has a well-deserved reputation as a food lover’s paradise, with our many fabulous restaurants, cafés and wine bars. But what you may not know is that Todos Santos also has some pretty darn good taco stands. In fact, our official, self-appointed, Mexico City taco snob has reviewed the taco scene in Todos Santos and has pronounced our town’s taquerias to be right up there with the big-city greats. We interviewed 4 taco stands in town to find out about the people behind the tacos and to answer that burning question: what makes a great taco, a great taco?
- Best for: tacos al pastor and carne asada
- Hours: 7:00 AM to 1:00 AM daily. Except maybe some days in summer.
The 2 Lucias who run El Pastorcito have been offered significant sums of money to reveal the secrets of their tacos al pastor, but they’re not selling or telling. “We get the pork in from Cabo San Lucas then do all the preparation here. It’s a secret recipe of the owner. But we do use the traditional pineapple on the top and bottom of the meat, or sometimes an onion on the bottom. That’s all we can tell you!” When asked what makes a great taco a great taco, they said it’s all in the preparation of the meat and the salsas. “Salsas must be prepared fresh everyday with fresh ingredients. We buy all local Todos Santos produce for the salsas and it makes a nice difference.” For vegetarians El Pastorcito also serves papas rellenos and quesadillas. Beer, soft drinks and water for sale. El Pastorcito was started 3 years ago by Alejandro Fuerte, a 20-year resident of Todos Santos who moved here from Michoacan.
- Best for: fish tacos
- Hours: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day but Thursday
This taco cart on the side of the road is a celebration of Baja California Sur’s great contribution to Mexican cuisine – the fish taco! Started 10 years ago by the original “George” Jorge Ramirez Rodriguez of La Paz, it is now run by George Jr. who moved to Todos Santos 2 years ago to take over management of the stand from his father. He’s done pretty well by the old man – in high season he moves 300 to 400 tacos a day from his cart. George buys his fish from the local fishermen at Punta Lobos and is proud to be serving a Todos Santos-sourced meal. When asked what makes a great taco a great taco he plays his cards close to the chest. ‘Oh, nothing special. That I can tell you about.” Soft drinks available for sale.
- Best for: carnitas con cuero and chicharron
- Hours: 8:00 AM to Midnight, every day but Tuesday
Started by La Paz resident Jorge Barajas in 1995, Barajas is a long-time favorite with residents and visitors alike. When asked what makes a great taco, Esmeralda and Ruben – both of whom have worked at Barajas for 11 years – said it all comes down to the people who prepare the pork for the carnitas. As it happened, the new carnita supplier for Barajas was there during our meal (the old supplier went on vacation and never came back) and he explained “It’s all about the correct combination of time and heat, and knowing how to get this right takes years of practice. We cook the meat with onion, garlic and orange – and maybe a few other things too.” Vegetarians in the crowd? Barajas also serves papas rellenos (stuffed potatoes) an assortment of quesadillas, and fish/shrimp tacos. Only soft drinks and water available for drinks, but you can bring your own beer or wine.
El Tacos y Mariscos Sinaloense
- Best for: smoked marlin and shrimp tacos
- Hours: 7:00 AM to 2:00 AM every day except Monday. Tacos during the day and mariscos (seafood) at night.
Looking for a more peaceful environment, Jose Luis Ibarra Grimaldi, his wife Maria and their children moved to Todos Santos from Mazatlan four years ago. But they retain their Sinaloa ties and buy their shrimp and smoked marlin from there (Jose Luis reminds us it’s all the Sea of Cortez!). When asked what makes a great taco a great taco, Jose Luis doesn’t hesitate. “There are really 3 main factors: 1. The product – what you put into it. We only buy the best. 2. Spices and salsas. We take great pride in our salsa bar. 3. Service.” El Sinaloense also serves a variety of meat tacos, papas rellenos and quesadillas. Soft drinks, orchata and water available.
This list is just representative of some of the taco joys you can find in our pueblo magico. Got your own favorite taco joint in Todos Santos? Tell us all about it!
© Copyright Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Casa Payaso S de RL de CV, 2011