Chefs' Picks: Tacos
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
There’s nothing like a good taco. Whether they’re stuffed with shredded pork, grilled beef or lengua (tongue), slathered with guacamole or kicked up with salsa, tacos pop up regularly as chefs’ favorite food. We asked a few chefs across the country to spill the beans on their favorites and where you can try them.
Southern California has no shortage of great tacos, but when Chef Tim Kolanko of Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge in Coronado gets a craving, he heads to Galaxy Taco in San Diego, which is known for its blue-corn tortillas, mezcal selection and well-sourced ingredients. Kolanko goes for the Lamb Barbacoa Tacos with onion, tomato-mint salsa and yogurt. "Super Chef Trey Foshee grinds his own masa,” he says. “His dedication to sourcing quality ingredients shows in his deliciously executed menu."
A favorite among chefs across the country, Big Star serves up authentic yet inventive tacos. They are best eaten on its patio, one of the best in Chicago, with something from the stellar whiskey and tequila list. Chef Troy Guard of Tag Restaurant in Denver considers Big Star a must-stop when he travels to the Windy City. “This is my favorite taco spot in Chicago," he says. "I get the Taco Al Pastor [marinated, spit-roasted pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, grilled onion and cilantro] every time!”
It’s all about the tongue for Chef Juan Carlos of SoBou in New Orleans, who sates his taco cravings at Del Fuego with an order of lengua tacos. “It is most unusual, and they braise the lengua until it is nice and tender and full of fantastic flavors," he says. "They also make an amazing chile de arbol pepper sauce that goes right on top. Super delicious and spicy.”
When Chef Joachim Splichal, co-founder and master chef of Los Angeles’ Patina, wants a good taco, he heads for this truck on South Fair Oaks Ave., for an order of lengua tacos. He loves it enough that it’s become his go-to spot for out-of-town visitors. “It’s a fun and casual way to introduce them to the city, and give them that authentic Los Angeles Mexican taco truck experience,” he says.
Photos courtesy of Galaxy Taco, Edouard Pierre, Del Fuego and Joeyn Goy