There are a number of hipster taquerias in Orlando. By “hipster taqueria,” I’m thinking of places that often offer fusion tacos combining cuisines (try wasabi carnitas tacos, for example), and that are operated by earnest American guys with long beards who have supplemented their culinary school experience with travels to Oaxaca to learn authentic recipes from real Mexicans.
I was reading an article recently about the best tacos in Orlando… which included a number of the hipster taco places on the list, as well as places like Tijuana Flats… (!) In my own quest to try all the tacos, I’ve been to many on the list, and while some of them do serve up a great taco, they all feel a few steps removed from what I had in Mexico. I’m thinking of street tacos, which by definition are minimalist. The first ones I tried, sold by a street vendor late at night in San Miguel de Allende, consisted of small, fresh corn tortillas, steak, a handful of finely chopped onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime on top. They were “antojitos,” meaning little cravings, and they were exquisite. With freshly made tortillas, meat just off the grill, and the flavors of cilantro and lime brightening up the taco, you can’t go wrong.
Not that this type of taco isn’t available at some of our local places, but it’s about five times as expensive in places that also serve craft beer. The other day my friend Dennyse came over with a bag from La Hacienda Meat Market & Taqueria. It’s a place my family and I go for perfectly ripe avocados, homemade tortillas, inexpensive cilantro and other produce, and products like masa harina. I had never tried the restaurant inside the grocery, though. It’s a place you can actually go and sit down, but with a new baby I liked Dennyse’s idea even more – take-home, DIY tacos with corn tortillas made that day and kept fresh and hot in a cooler at La Hacienda. I learned that they will sell you a pound of already prepared carne asada (marinated and grilled skirt steak) along with the embellishments: chopped onions and cilantro, salsa verde (made with tomatillos), nopales (cactus), etc. for the price of about two tiny tacos at one of those other places. All you have to do is put them together. So last week that was our Friday night dinner – carne asada, tortillas, white cheese, avocados, and Rancho Gordo heirloom beans that I had prepared earlier. (More on those in another post.) The total cost (and there were substantial leftovers the next day) was $15-20.
If there’s a Mexican supermarket near you that also has a kitchen attached, my suggestion is to check it out. If you live in Orlando, go to La Hacienda on Aloma. These were some excellent take-out tacos, and I can’t wait to go back there and try their other foods.