Before you go into any taquería in Mexico City, there’s one basic piece of knowledge you need to have: the story behind the great taco al pastor. This iconic delicacy came to Mexico courtesy of Lebanese immigrants, who shared their tradition of cooking meat on a vertical spit. The local adaptation of the dish consists of pork meat marinated in adobo (made with achiote and other spices), cooked in the vertical trompo, and then sliced and placed on a small corn tortilla. You can dress it with what locals call “el jardín,” (i.e. the garden) a fresh topping of cilantro, chopped onions, and pineapple. Of course, plenty of taquerías claim to have the best version, while customers themselves have their own preferences: no pineapple, choosing salsa verde or salsa roja, adding a few drops of lime juice...the controversy is just a testament of how important this taco is in our food culture.
Legend has it that the original location of this taquería (in Anzures) was the birthplace of another national treasure: the gringa, a flour-tortilla quesadilla stuffed with al pastor meat. Among other reasons of pride: their excellent smoked pork chop and the “Qué me ves” taco, which combines steak, al pastor and Gouda.
The folks at this nearly 60-year-old establishment have declared themselves the creators of “gourmet tacos al pastor,” and let’s face it: their juicy, flavor-packed, pineapple-and-cilantro-free version is pretty flawless. Their house salsas –chile de árbol, and a thick, guacamole-like verde– work wonders on all their creations.
With nearly 20 locations all over the city, these taco pros also claim to be the creators of al pastor. While this may or may not be true, they still have plenty to brag about: awesome rajas con crema (poblano peppers with cream) and short rib tacos, and an addictive spicy bean dip served with salty totopos that arrives at your table as soon as you sit down.
Aside from serving all the taquería classics –pastor, steak, gringas– this cheerful joint is famous for inventing the “cráter,” a large tostada topped with melted cheese and the meat of your choice. Vegetarians can treat themselves to delicious grilled nopales with Oaxaca cheese. Bonus: all seven locations are open until 4am.
Calling yourself a pharaoh carries a lot of weight, but with their tasty and super-affordable tacos (one taco al pastor for a dollar), these folks are surely deserving of the title. Kick off your feast with chicharrón de queso, a paper-thin roll of crunchy Manchego cheese.