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Best Tacos Recipes on Two Coasts

Tacos are one of our favorite food. You can make excellent shedded beef or pork in a sous vide cooker like our Anova Nano at home.  When we travel though it is one of the things we miss the most. Today we are going to review two great places that are local favorites in both New York City and Los Angeles. While it is hard to say which place has the best taco recipe one thing is certain. People love them. There are tacos and then there are tacos. If you think of tacos as just a cheap snack or meal and not very exciting than the Tacos we are about to show you may change your mind. The two places we are talking about with tacos to die for are Tito’s Tacos in Culver City (In West L.A.) and Caliente Cab in Greenwich Village (New York City). 

See the Fatty Crab post on Sous Vide Mexican Food.

Mexican Food Los Angeles vs. Mexican Food NYC

OK. No doubt Los Angeles has an unfair advantage having once been a part of Mexico and with its large hispanic population, however what New York lacks in numbers it makes up for in creativity and diversity. We are going to focus on two dishes to try and see who has the best tacos. 

Caliente Cab NYC

Mexican food in New York City?  Forget the Pace hot sauce commercial and get ready to dive into the TACO TOWER!!!  The taco tower at Caliente Cab is world famous as it gone viral on Instagram and Facebook. Does that mean it should make our list? Not that alone but once you check out the video you will get a better idea why Caliente Cab makes our list. 

Caliente Cab Best Tacos

The foot high taco tower is made with 20 tortillas, beef, pico de gallo, and shredded cheese is layered on top. Once the base tortillas are sufficiently loaded with goodies, more tortillas are added to ensure they can keep piling on the toppings. After a quick stint in the oven to melt the cheese and some guacamole, sour cream and salsa are heaped on the Taco Tower and then it is served. Caliente Cab says it will serve 10 hungry people. I might beg to differ on that if they all love tacos as much as I do. And while it may slightly resemble nachos to some, you slice it like a pie in order to eat it. 

Taco Tower

Since opening their doors some 30 years ago they have become a Mexican Food NYC landmark. They have dishes from all over Mexico and don’t just feature one regional area of Mexican food specialties. Which somewhat reflects the fact that NYC Mexican population tends to come to NYC from all across Mexico while Los Angeles is more Baja and Sonoran influenced. If you don’t have a large group to take on the taco tower the restaurant also has more traditional sized dishes as well.  Their burritos, fajitas and queso con carne are exceptionally tasty as well. Another reason it makes it a great place to visit is you can order fresh homemade guac and customeize your salsa in their molcajete station. Lastly, one cannot say enough of their margaritas-frozen or on the rocks which may also be the best margaritas in NYC with close to 100 different types of tequila to choose from, The Fatty Crab recommends that you make reservations. 


Now onto our West Coast favorite: Tito’s Tacos in Los Angeles

Tito’s Tacos in West L.A. is quite different than Caliente Cab. It is a fast food establishment that you simply have to taste to fall in love with its simple dishes and famous tacos that Angelenos line up for every day.  Tito’s Tacos menu is notable for its use of Sonoran style hard-shell rather than soft-shell tacos or Mexican street tacos and would probably be called Gringo Tacos by many who are looking for authenticity, hard shell tacos are uncommon for Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, and also they use cold cheese-instead of melted. Their salsa is also a favorite. It is hard to describe, it isn’t spicy at all but it has so much flavor you can’t get enough of it. It is even drinkable by itself it is that good.  The tacos here are made to the same recipe introduced 60 years ago back in 1959,and the menu has remained the same for decades. No margaritas or cocktails here, just simply great tacos. Don’t just take our word for it. In 2015, Tito’s Tacos was named one of the “20 Places Where You Can Get the Best Tacos in the U.S.” by Tech Times. In 2014, Fox News placed the taco stand on its top-ten list of the “Best Tacos in America”. and in 2015 Tito’s Tacos’ bean and cheese burrito placed #1 on The Daily Meal‘s ranking of the top 35 burritos in America.  

Tito's Tacos Best Tacos in L.A.

As mentioned it is set up as a fast food restaurant so no reservations are needed. The place almost always has lines. Don’t let the lines fool you though, they do a great job whizzing through them and have about 1o different windows with multiple people working behind each window. A couple of Fatty Crab Hacks- Go inside-the lines are sometimes shorter there. Also ask to split up your order into two orders and order it to go.  To go orders are placed in a box and get more chips than a dine in order which comes on a plate. You also get twice as much salsa that way. Tito’s has a devout following that borders on the religious.

The shredded beef tacos are deep fried. They charge extra for cheese on their tacos but you really need the cheese. It is just simple cheddar cheese but it completes the taco. They give you chips and salsa with every order. They have other things on the menu like tamales, enchiladas and burritos but the thing to order if you have never been there are the tacos. The tacos themselves are pretty basic – a simple (but rich and delicious) shredded beef, iceberg lettuce, and tons of cheese-topped off with their salsa. 

Tito's tacos box


 *Note They once had a location in Orange County but it was bought out and the name was changed to Tom’s Tacos-which has now relocated to Torrance, California and they use the same recipes, however it doesn’t have the cult following that Titos tacos has but it is still one of the best tacos you can buy. It was recently voted as the South Bay’s Best in 2019. Their prices are slightly cheaper than Tito’s Taco’s, just $3.30 for a beef and cheese taco vs. $3.95 at Tito’s. Still it isn’t the same…

Tom's tacos

Now here are some Taco Tower and Tito Taco’s clone recipes for you to digest (Get the intentional pun?) along with a list of the Best Tacos and Mexican Food Places to eat in NYC and L.A.

Taco Tower | Slyh in the Kitchen

In honor of Cinco de Mayo this week, we made a delicious meaty and cheesy Mexican Taco Tower. It is filled with layers of seasoned ground turkey, a spicy cream sauce, and topped with cheese. It gets baked in a spring form pan to help keep everything intact while baking. When you take the ring off of the pan, you end up with a beautiful cake-looking tower of meaty layers. It is so good! If ground turkey isn’t your thing, then change it up with ground beef; it will be just as tasty!

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t like Mexican food. How can anyone resist such wonderful cuisine?

Ingredients: 5 flour tortillas- 8 inches in diameter 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 lb ground turkey or ground beef ½ cup chopped onion ½ cup frozen corn kernels 10.75 oz condensed cream of chicken soup 10 oz can diced tomatoes with chiles (if you don’t like spicy food, try the mild version) ¼ cup fat free sour cream 1 and ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese Taco seasoning (recipe follows) Jalapenos for garnish (optional) Extra sour cream for serving (optional)

Taco Seasoning Ingredients: ½ tsp Kosher salt 2 tsp paprika 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp granulated garlic ¼ tsp ground black pepper ½ tsp chili powder

Taco Seasoning Instructions:

Read More: Taco Tower | Slyh in the Kitchen

The taco is one of the world’s favorite foods, and with good reason: it’s tasty, nutritious and portable. And New York City has some of the best. You’ll find exemplary specimens at the City’s no-frills taquerias and stylish hot spots—some made from family recipes, others by trailblazing chefs. Read on to discover where they are; you’ll realize that this street food star is no longer a background player.

Alta Calidad Crispy tempura shrimp tacos with chorizo and celery root rémoulade rate high on our list. They were dreamed up by Akhtar Nawab, a chef of Indian descent. After years at Gramercy Tavern and La Esquina, he opened this contemporary cantina in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights. Critics love his adventurous approach to Mexican fare. The restaurant’s other top tacos include roasted skate wing with olives, and chicken with plantain mole, sesame, avocado, crema and ancho chiles.

Casa Enrique Casa Enrique is a small, white-hued restaurant with a modern vibe and traditional tacos. Its Michelin-starred chef, Cosme Aguilar, hails from Chiapas, Mexico, and adheres to nothing-fancy family recipes, exercising austerity when it comes to garnishes. Slow-cooked brisket and meltingly soft beef tongue are topped with onions and cilantro and nestled in double tortillas. His other homespun specialties include crumbled, spicy chorizo and pork marinated in chiles and pineapple.

Downtown Bakery You wouldn’t know it from its hole-in-wall-looks or unrevealing name, but Downtown Bakery is a revered East Village taqueria. Their chicken tacos feature savory mole saturating generous helpings of shredded meat stuffed in double tortillas. They also have superlative vegetarian tacos—de raja con papa—with mild poblanos, potato and avocado. Tacos come two to an order. There are a few tables at which you can devour your meal while it’s still hot and steamy. Note that it’s  cash only.

Read More: 10 Best Tacos in NYC | The Official Guide to New York City

Cantina Rooftop In New York City Serves A Giant Taco And …

Along the lines of Caliente Cab’s Taco Tower the Cantina Rooftop in NYC has not one but TWO menu items for you to feast your eyes on. Cantina Rooftop in New York City is serving a 14-pound taco, and Mexican fare of this stature can only be paired with one thing: a massive watermelon margarita served INSIDE an actual watermelon.

The taco, which has a tortilla made from scratch using the most genius hack, can be ordered with either chicken, beef, or pork. It has layers of all your favorite fixings, like salsa and avocado crema. As for the margarita, watermelon is scooped from its rind and puréed, then poured back inside with tequila, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Name a more iconic duo—I’ll wait.

Both items are available as part of the restaurant’s “Big Wednesdays” promotion. The margarita serves eight to 10 people while the taco serves six to eight, so plan your group trip accordingly. You can order them individually for $80 each or together for $140.

The 25 Best Tacos in Los Angeles | Good Food | KCRW

Bill Esparza writes the “Essential T” column for Los Angeles Magazine and put together their best tacos issue along with dine editor Lesley Bargar Suter. As Good Food’s official taco correspondent, he lays out where to find the best tacos in Los Angeles.

Homemade Taco Tower Video

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