Photo by Aaron Ricca.
If you make it through Tuesday with no salsa stains, greasy fingers or guacamole dribbling down your chin, you probably didn’t enjoy what’s become a weekly custom at many Mexican restaurants around town.
Not every restaurant participates in Taco Tuesday, but a couple of them offer $1 tacos and other specials.
The taco is among the simplest of Mexican foods to prepare and one of our favorites to eat, yet they’re not all created equally.
Some people like soft tacos, or “street tacos,” as they’re called in Mexico. Others prefer hard-shell tacos, which are more American-style.
A good taco starts with a small corn or flour tortilla, then adds a choice of meats including carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, fish or shrimp. They’re topped with ingredients such as cilantro and onions.
Hard-shell tacos typically come with shredded lettuce and grated cheddar cheese. Spice level is left to the individual.
Taste is most important, but texture and presentation go a long way toward judging the best taco. It has to look and smell appetizing. And once you pick it up, it shouldn’t fall apart.
“Put some love into it,” said Justo Lopez, co-owner of El Paraiso Tacos and Burgers along with his brother, Efrain. “Meat’s a big thing. And tortilla. In Mexico, they make it with a corn tortilla. They’re authentic. It’s a different quality you’re putting into them.”
The Daily Miner surveyed the best taco joints in Kingman, focusing on quick in-and-out service rather than sit-down restaurants such as Oysters, Plaza Bonita and El Palacio.
Here’s what we found:
Humberto’s Taco Shop: 3990 Stockton Hill Road. This place has been a Kingman favorite for many years and gets a steady lunch crowd every day of the week. Their tacos were the largest and full of meat, and therefore a little messy. The carne asada and al pastor tacos are served with guacamole, but not the fish tacos.
The fish tacos here were outstanding with great flavor that lingered on the palate. The carne asada taco was fatty, but came with a decent heap of pico de gallo and glop of guacamole. Meat portions were liberal and juicy, but a little bland, so we added some extra hot sauce.
The fish, al pastor and carne asada tacos were each priced at $2.85, with no specials on Taco Tuesday.
The restaurant is fairly clean, though you may have to wipe down your own table if you dine it. Service was friendly and the wait was around 10 minutes, with two orders in front of us.
Del Taco: 3390 Stockton Hill Road. Not bad for a national fast-food chain. They give you a healthy piece of beer-battered fish for your taco and it’ not too messy, other than the usual spillover of diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. They’re double-wrapped in a soft tortilla. Very tasty. They’re usually $2.49 each, but you can get two for $4 if you order them separate from the combination meal.
The steak street tacos are $2.29 each and come with large chunks of freshly grilled carne asada, topped with roasted chile salsa, sliced avocado, chopped onions and cilantro. The sliced avocado steals the show from tacos topped with guacamole.
Del Taco also sells a hard-shell taco with ground beef or chicken on the value menu for 69 cents.
El Salsas Taco Shop: 777 W. Beale St. Operating in back of the Chevron station, El Salsas puts together fat tacos selling for $2.80 for carne asada, al pastor and carnitas, and $2.50 for fish and ground beef.
The al pastor, or marinated pork, taco was almost as big as the carne asada taco from Humberto’s. It had an array of flavor from the meat down to the diced jalapeno, which gave it a nice zing after consumption.
We might have ranked it the best, but the tortilla kept falling apart and the taco had to be finished with a fork.
Same with the fish taco. It was a little light on the fish, and came apart to make a bit of a mess. The tortilla “exploded,” otherwise it would have moved up the list, said one reviewer.
It has a great salsa bar with jalapenos and carrots, cilantro and onions, green and red mild salsa, pico salsa and hot pepper sauce.
El Paraiso Tacos and Burgers: 510 Eastern St. These are some excellent street tacos prepared quickly and with the freshest ingredients.
The tacos carnitas were a little fatty, and the smaller corn tortilla was a tad difficult to grip. They’re wrapped with just one tortilla, whereas the others had two.
The meat was a little dry and bland, but a dash of hot sauce and squirt of lime that accompanies each order made it tangy and added moisture.
These were the smallest tacos of the sampled restaurants, but also the cheapest at $1.50 each. El Paraiso is one of the Taco Tuesday celebrants, cutting the price to $1 on Tuesday. Be prepared for a long line during Tuesday’s lunch hours.
Seating is limited and cramped inside, but outdoor patio dining is available.
El Tio Taco: 2615 Northern Ave. Very popular on Taco Tuesday with $1 ground beef tacos in a hard shell. They’re kind of plain, so pick up some red or green sauce at the salsa bar. More than enough cheese on top and the shredded lettuce was fresh and crisp. They’re made within just a couple minutes of waiting, and drive-through service is available. The dine-in plate comes with tortilla chips.
El Tio Taco also has soft tacos on the menu ranging from $2.09 for shredded beef or shredded chicken to $2.79 for carne asada.