Tacos are the perfect food. No utensils are needed, you can get them on the street or in a nice restaurant, they come in their own edible packaging, there are various food groups included in a taco, you can eat them at any meal, and most importantly, they are absolutely delicious!
There are so many types of tacos in Mexico that they even have their own Netflix show dedicated to them, The Taco Chronicles, which covers everything from types of street tacos to American tacos. There are also many types of meat for tacos and other fillings as well.
So, who invented tacos? Tacos originated in México. Long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived, indigenous Mexicans made corn tortillas and filled them with fish and other fillings. However, the word taco is believed to have come from silver miners in the 18th century. The word “taco” is what miners would call the papers that they wrapped around gunpowder and inserted into holes in the rock face.
Read on to find out about 10 different types of tacos, and why each kind is special, wonderful, and delicious.
What are the different types of tacos
As we mentioned, there are many different kinds of tacos. However, it’s important to remember that all tacos are not created equal. For instance, American tacos vs Mexican tacos… tacos in the U.S. are Americanized versions of Mexican tacos and are generally considered to be Tex-Mex, or Texan and Mexican. Tex-Mex food often contains some ingredients that are common in Mexican cuisine, but other ingredients that are not used in Mexican food are added.
10 Types of Tacos in Mexico
Here are 10 types of mouthwatering Mexican tacos (and this only scratches the surface). Be sure to wash them down with a cold Mexican beer, cocktail, or non-alcoholic Mexican drink.
Tacos al Pastor
Influenced by Lebanese immigrants, tacos al pastor are made with seasoned spit-grilled pork. The pork is marinated in guajillo chile, garlic, cumin, clove, bay leaf, vinegar, pineapple and usually achiote paste before it is slowly cooked with charcoal on a vertical rotisserie called a “trompo”. The meat is then shaved off and served on a small corn tortilla with chopped onions, cilantro, diced pineapple and lime juice. Tacos al pastor are a popular street food but are also served in many restaurants. Try them with a refreshing “agua de Jamaica” (a tea made from dried hibiscus flower petals that is similar to cranberry juice).
Tacos de Cochinita
This irresistible dish comes from the Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located. A dish with deep Mayan roots, cochinita pibil is slow-roasted suckling pork. The pork is marinated in bitter orange juice, vinegar and annatto (achiote) and traditionally roasted underground in a pit called a “pib”. However, these days many people now prepare it in a slow cooker. Cochinita is served on a corn tortilla with red pickled onions and habanero salsa and was recently featured on the Netflix show Chef’s Table: BBQ in the first season, when Chef Rosalia Chay Chuc shared the ancient method of preparing this scrumptious dish. Her home in the state of Yucatan is probably one of the best places in Mexico to try cochinita pibil. Mexicans love to drink an ice-cold Coca-Cola with their tacos de cochinita.
Tacos de Pescado
“Pescado” means fish, so we are talking fish tacos here. The perfect beach food, fish tacos are usually made from a white fish, like halibut, tilapia, mahi mahi, snapper, cod, bass or catfish, which is breaded and fried, then served on a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage and a creamy chipotle sauce. The Cancun area is a great place to try fish tacos because the fish is fresh, in fact, it may have been caught that same day. Tacos de Pescado should be accompanied by an authentic Mexican beer. Instead of Corona, try something different, like Pacifico or Modelo Especial.
Tacos de Canasta
“Canasta” means basket, and that’s just what tacos de canasta are, tacos that are sold from a basket. They are generally filled with chicharron, chorizo and potatoes, tinga (a shredded chicken dish) or even just beans. They are also sometimes called “tacos al vapor” or “tacos sudados”, because they are prepared in a very interesting way. First, warm corn tortillas are stuffed with filling and folded, then oil that has been heated with onions, chiles and garlic is dripped over the taco. Next, the taco is placed in a well-insulated basket, where all the tacos continue to cook once it is sealed. Tacos de canasta are an inexpensive but delicious street food that go well with a Coke or another “refresco” (soda). Try Jarritos, a Mexican soda brand that comes in 7 flavors.
There are many types of pork tacos in Mexico, and tacos arabes are one example. Originating in Puebla, they were created by Middle Eastern immigrants in the early 20th century and evolved from the shawarma… thinly sliced, spit-roasted marinated lamb served in pita bread. The Mexican version became layers of split roasted pork marinated with cumin, oregano, lime, salt and onions. The pork is served in a pita-bread-like tortilla with a spicy chipotle sauce. A good way to wash down tacos arabes is with a sweet “horchata” (rice water). It is thought that the previously mentioned tacos al pastor evolved from tacos arabes.
Tacos de Barbacoa
Sheep, goat or beef are the three types of taco meat used to prepare Mexican barbacoa. Although the word barbacoa sounds like barbeque, the word actually describes a process of steaming or baking, not cooking over a grill. Much like cochinita pibil, barbacoa is baked in an underground oven until it is very tender. However, like cochinita, these days many people and restaurants prepare it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Tacos de Barbacoa are normally served a corn tortilla with “salsa verde” (green salsa), diced onion and cilantro and lime juice. Nothing goes with Tacos de Barbacoa like a cold cerveza. Try a Dos XX Lager, not to be confused with Dos XX Ambar, a darker version.
Tacos Dorados are basically Mexican fried tacos. They are also sometimes referred to as “flautas” and are generally served in homes or restaurants. A rolled-up tortilla is stuffed with shredded beef or chicken, mashed potatoes or even ham and cheese, and fried. The result is crispy, crunchy deliciousness. Tacos Dorados are generally served with crumbled “queso fresco” (cheese made from raw cow and goat milk), sour cream and shredded lettuce on top. Salsa and/or guacamole may be served on the side. Adults might want to try a traditional margarita on the rocks with a salted rim with their tacos dorados.
Tacos de Carnitas
“Carnitas” translates to “little meats”, which is basically what tacos de carnitas are filled with. Pork is simmered in lard with salt, chili, cumin, oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf and garlic in a copper pot until it’s very tender on the inside. Then the heat is turned up until it is a bit crispy on the outside. Then it’s served on a corn tortilla with chopped onion and cilantro, with most people adding lime juice and red or green salsa. Tacos de carnitas are a traditional street food or may be served in small storefront restaurants or stands with a cold “agua fresca” like “agua de pepino” (cucumber water). The state of Michoacan is famous for its carnitas.
Tacos de Birria
Like many of the previously mentioned tacos, tacos de birria can be made with different kinds of meat. Originating in the state of Jalisco and often compared to barbacoa, the meat is seasoned with different chilies, which may include chilacate, guajillo, pasilla, morita or cascabel, and garlic, onion, pepper, cloves, vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, thyme, sesame and bay leaf. The meat is left to marinate in the sauce for around 12 hours, then wrapped in maguey leaves with more marinade and placed in a sealed pot and cooked over a fire or baked. The result is tender, savory and smokey. They are then served in corn tortillas, which are often soaked in the marinade as well, with diced onions and cilantro, lime juice and a red salsa.
Tacos de Guisado
Tacos de guisado are a bit different from all of the other tacos on this list. They are corn tortillas filled with various stew-type dishes like picadillo, chorizo and potatoes, rajas con crema (sliced poblano pepper with cream), or chicken with mole sauce. Lime juice, refried beans, rice and different salsas are often added. Tacos de guisado are served at parties, buffet style, but are also served in restaurants and street stands. All of the previously mentioned drinks, including aguas frescas, beer or cocktails will compliment tacos de guisado.
Aquaworld may be the water fun experts in Cancun, offering tours, diving, fishing, boat rentals and more, but Aquaworld marina is also home to a restaurant that serves tacos! So before or after your favorite Aquaworld activity, visit the restaurant and try some.