The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.
It wasn’t so long ago that tacos de canasta, or basket tacos were something that you could only get in Mexico (they’re now pretty easy to find in L.A.)—most travelers visiting our southern neighbor may have tried them while on vacation in Mexico City, but they’re popular all over Mexico. In Mexico City and the surrounding states, they are naturally steamed in basket or makeshift coolers reinforced by duct tape; in other regions they are steamed in pots or steam trays with local stews and braises. These delicious breakfast tacos go by many names throughout the republic: tacos sudados (sweaty tacos), tacos mañaneros (morning tacos in Monterrey), tacos al vapor (steamed tacos), or tacos mineros (miner’s tacos). At the train stations in Tuxpan, Jalisco they are known as tacos tuxpeños.
My first tacos tuxpeños were enjoyed on a sunny afternoon in Colima where they are also very popular, and the second time happened a few days ago while making a wrong turn in Lincoln Heights, where signage out of the corner of my eye led me to Raspados Nayarit. In addition to raspados, bionicos (fruit salads), hot Cheetos drowned in nacho cheese, and duros preparados (large wheat tostadas) the 8-year-old snack shop has a side business of tacos tuxpeños.
What sets tacos tuxpeños apart from other steamed tacos is that the tortillas are fried in lard infused with chile guajillo for flavor and color, then steamed—Raspados Nayarit offers 3 fillings: potato and chorizo, chicken, and lomo (stewed pork). The juicy lomo is braised in dried red chile which really amps up the pork flavor; it come with a spicy red salsa and a palate cleansing cucumber, lettuce, and mango salad dressed with lime juice and Tajín (a seasoned dried chile powder mix). The salad is nice touch from your friendly neighborhood raspado and bionico man, and yes, this discovery makes it 46 tacos on our L.A. tacopedia.