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Let’s Taco Bout Tacos: A Brief History of This Family Favorite

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

Tacos are eaten across the world in various ways, but most think of the taco that is served in Tex-Mex restaurants. This delicious food originated in Mexico as something very different, however. Here’s a brief history of the tacos that may surprise you.

Tacos originated in ancient Mexico

The first tacos didn’t look like those we know and love today. The ancient peoples who made them used fresh corn tortillas, fish, and organs. They were a staple that provided the nutrients needed to survive. There was no cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef, and other toppings that would make the meal recognizable.

As time passed, the tacos evolved and became more complex. The Spanish brought new ingredients such as beef, chicken, pork, and cheese that would later become central to the modern taco we know today.

Tacos in Mexican history

During the 18th century, tacos were sold by street vendors in Mexico City. They were a popular snack for laborers who needed a quick and tasty meal while working. Tacos were also sold at fairs and festivals throughout the country. They were often known as “tacos de minero” or “miner’s tacos.”

Tacos in America

The term “taco” was first used in the U.S. around 1905 by Mexican miners who migrated to America in search of work, but only when speaking to Americans about the dish. They brought their cultural cuisine with them, including tacos. They were sold at street carts by women called “chili queens” colloquially and were thought to be spicy and exciting. By the 1920s, tacos were made with more recognizable and palatable ingredients like chicken, ground beef, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The development of the modern taco

It was not until the 20th century that tacos became popular in America. In particular, Glen Bell introduced the hard-shell taco to Americans when he opened his fast-food chain “Taco Bell” in 1962. It is thought that the hard taco shell was actually invented by Mexicans around the 1940s. No matter who developed the first U-shaped shell, they helped make the mass production of the meal possible.

Today, tacos have turned into more than just a crunchy or soft shell with basic yet delicious fillings. You can find them everywhere, from small street food vendors and popular food trucks to high-end restaurants and local dives. They have become a popular and beloved dish across the world, with endless variations and creative toppings to satisfy every taste bud. Here are just some of the fusions and variations you can find.

  • Shrimp tacos
  • Korean barbecue tacos
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Tacos
  • Cauliflower Taco
  • Dessert tacos

Tacos at The Plaza Mexican Restaurant

At The Plaza Mexican Restaurant, the humble taco is elevated to delicious culinary heights, with a tantalizing array of options that cater to a variety of tastes and dietary preferences. Each taco is a flavorful journey, showcasing the culinary diversity and innovation of Tex-Mex cuisine.

  • Tacos Locos: This dish features marinated steak, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, and lime.
  • Machaca Brisket Tacos: These tacos use shredded brisket, sliced avocados, cabbage, queso fresco, and radishes in soft corn tortillas.
  • Tacos Caribeños: Another taco served in a soft corn shell, this dish features grilled chicken marinated in Honey-Sriracha with Caribbean spices, cilantro, mango salsa, and chipotle mayo.
  • Fish tacos: You can get these with soft corn or flour tortillas, grilled tilapia, radish, queso fresco, and sliced avocados.

At The Plaza Mexican Restaurant, tacos are more than a meal – they’re an experience, representing the vibrant flavors and rich history of Mexican cuisine. Each bite is a testament to the culinary craftsmanship that goes into creating these flavorful masterpieces.

No matter what type of tacos you’re craving, The Plaza Restaurant offers something for everyone! Bring your family and friends down to experience all that we have to offer! Check out our Locations to find a restaurant near you, and our Menu to see everything we have to offer!