August 20, 2019
Posted in: Culinary Arts

In a Packed Field, How do You Make Your Tacos Stand Out?

It's hard to find someone who doesn't like tacos. With so many variations on the basic theme of a tortilla wrapped around a savory filling, there's a taco out there for almost everyone, from ardent carnivores to the most strict vegans, as well as plenty of people on restricted diets.

Tacos are delicious, but as such a popular food, there's plenty of competition among chefs. Students at Texas culinary schools in particular understand how hard it can be for a restaurant to stand out with a taco that's truly a cut above the rest. Let's look at some advice for making exceptional tacos, including examples from close by our Austin campus.

Three tacos sitting on plate.Making your tacos something more than average can help your restaurant stand out.

Considering a pair of standout taco places in and around Austin

Take a look at the menus of taquerias, taco trucks and the wide range of restaurants around Austin that offer this delicious and portable food, and you'll see a wide range of different strategies, recipes and points of emphasis. Some of the most popular taco joints have a specialty that attracts customers, while others take an especially thoughtful or unique approach to their entire process of preparing food and operating the restaurant as a whole.

  • Tacodeli has sustained its popularity long enough to expand as a regional chain in other parts of the Lone Star State, setting up outposts in Dallas, Houston and Plano, with 11 locations overall. Fans of this chain enjoy a variety of tacos, but, as Visit Austin pointed out, one of the true stars is the Otto, a breakfast taco. It includes staples like refried beans, avocado and especially high-quality salsa as well as slightly less common ingredients like a double portion of bacon and jack cheese.
  • Dai Due Taqueria is a locally sourced restaurant, a trend in and of itself. The attention to sustainability, and detail, doesn't stop there, however. Dai Due also seeks out heirloom varieties of local corn and makes its own tortillas in house from it, adding a level of authenticity that requires some careful planning that ultimately pays off. The Statesman pointed out that menu items including unique ingredients like wild boar pastor with orange and pollo pipian with grapefruit keep customers coming back.

How do I elevate my own tacos?

It may be an exaggeration to say a taco can be anything you want it to be, but an open mind can go a long way when it comes to taking this classic dish to the next level. We've looked at plenty of different variations on tacos in the past, including fusion cuisine efforts like combining a classic shredded chicken taco with a flavorful, somewhat spicy marinade. If you have a classic family recipe that you know you've mastered, you might want to think about how it could apply to tacos. You'll have to keep an eye on presentation and structure – you don't want to overload or soak the relatively delicate tortilla – but everything from Portuguese classic chicken Mozambique, with an example from Easy Portuguese Recipes, to sausage and sauteed peppers can find a home within the world of tacos.

The overall method of preparation is another aspect to consider. US Foods pointed to Oregon chef Tom Dunklin, who decided to use a wood-burning stove for a recent popup restaurant. That smoky taste lends itself to the flavors Dunklin uses in his tacos, such as one containing pork belly, shrimp, green papaya slaw, fish sauce and chili oil.

One of the best ways to improve your tacos is to develop strong culinary knowledge that provides a stable base for experimentation and innovation. To learn more about our Texas culinary school program, get in touch with us today!