8 Places to Satisfy Your Taco Tuesday Cravings
In case you haven’t noticed, tacos have come a long way in the two decades since that chihuahua told TV audiences, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.”
The Washington Post has described tacos as the “international rock star of consumables.”
No longer simply containers for rice, beans, meat and cheese—not that there was anything wrong with that—corn and flour tortillas have become canvases for local chefs to create culinary masterpieces.
So given that it’s not the most exciting to spend taco Tuesdays at the Bell, we thought we would share some of Guided’s favorite local taco spots with you.
Since the Tilford brothers opened the first Mission Taco Joint in 2013 in The Delmar Loop, they have been successful in spreading the gospel of street tacos to eaters around St. Louis and Kansas City.
Their late-night deal of $2 tacos and $2 tequila shots has become a well-known option for people interested in keeping the fiesta alive after 10 p.m. But the owners are not content to just keep things as they are and continually introduce new tacos to the menu. For example, through Jan. 31, 2020, Mission offers a seasonal taco called the El Chaparrito, which features shredded short rib salpicon—meat cooked with sliced green olives and white wine vinegar and then served on a flour tortilla with queso and a grilled onion-radish salsa. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each taco ($3.99) will go to the E3 Ranch Foundation, which is affiliated with a Kansas ranch that provides beef for the tacos and assists American veterans, active military personnel and those affected by human trafficking.
As its name indicates, the Taco Circus has the ability to travel. It recently moved from the Bevo Mill neighborhood into a larger space in Southwest Garden (4940 Southwest Ave.) with an expanded menu and the addition of a full bar. The popular “Austin-style Tex-Mex” joint offers smaller street tacos like grilled chicken thigh al carbon or pork steak carnitas or larger “Kingshighway” versions for a couple of dollars more. We especially like the “Jackie O” (al pastor, pineapple and pico de gallo).
Image courtesy of Alexander Mils.
The Circus also serves breakfast tacos, as does BLT’s—which, as everyone of course knows, stands for “Breakfast, Lunch and Tacos.” The Downtown restaurant (626 N. Sixth St.) succeeds in subverting your expectations for what a morning meal should look like by offering items like a chorizo and egg taco (spicy chorizo, eggs, breakfast potatoes and white cheddar on a flour tortilla) and your expectations for where bacon, lettuce and tomato belong through its BLT Taco (crispy pork belly, tomato, green leaf lettuce, chipotle aioli and cotija cheese on a corn tortilla).
If you’re looking to really celebrate taco Tuesday, you might as well head down to Cherokee Street, St. Louis’ home for all things Mexican.
And just when we say that, someone raises their hand and says, ‘Tacos and Cherokee Street aren’t just for Mexican food.” We agree. Check out Kalbi Taco Shack (2301 Cherokee St.) for Asian-Mexican fusion, including a sweet and spicy pan-seared cod taco and a teriyaki chicken taco.
For a more traditional taco, you must pop into La Vallesana (2801 Cherokee St.) which has tacos featuring varieties of meats you have tried (steak, carintas) and ones you might not have: lengua (cow tongue); cachete (cow cheek); and cabeza (cow head).
Omnivores, vegetarians and pescatarians can all enjoy tacos at Taqueria El Bronco (2817 Cherokee St.). Its shrimp and fish tacos are arguably the best on Cherokee Street, as are the veggie tacos (zucchini, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and cilantro).
For your last stop on the Cherokee taco hop, enter The Taco & Ice Cream Joint (2738 Cherokee St.)—which, unlike BLT’s, actually serves what you would expect based on the name. If we had to pick one combination, we would go with the beef tripe taco (crispy fried beef tripe on a corn tortilla) followed by a mangonada (two scoops of mango sorbet, chamoy, chili powder, mango chunks and a tamarind stick.)
And just so you know, we’re aware that the city of St. Louis does not have a monopoly on good tacos. West of Skinker Boulevard in University City, for example, enjoy a cathartic experience at Taco Buddha (7405 Pershing Ave.). We find peace after one bite of the mesquite-smoked brisket burnt ends taco and the potato, egg and cheese breakfast taco. (It’s worth splurging a buck and a half for the additional burnt ends on the latter too.)
So whether you prefer your tacos with cow cheek or cod, begin your conquest of all the delicious taco spots around St. Louis as quickly as possible. Yo quiero taco Tuesday.
Featured image of El Chaparrito tacos courtesy of Mission Taco Joint.