The Sacramento region is spoiled with scores of great taquerias, each putting their personal spin on what many consider to be the perfect food. Whether you prefer soft or crispy, al pastor or asada, barbacoa or birria, there’s a taquero ready to convince you that his or her version is the best in town. We asked the owners of three local taquerias to tell us what sets their tacos apart from the competition.
At Tacoa Tacos y Tequila (6350 Folsom Blvd.), which opened last summer, owner Jose Valle says the authentic flavors make his al pastor tacos a favorite with customers. “It’s made the traditional way, with pork shoulder cooked on a vertical grill. We slice it off of there and throw it onto the flat top to give it a little color,” says Valle. From there, the taco gets all the trimmings one expects—onion, cilantro, tomatillo salsa—plus an unexpected twist: a generous slice of grilled pineapple. “The smokiness of the meat combined with the tanginess of the pineapple . . . people just love it.” To wash it down? Try a cocktail made with one of Tacoa’s 50 tequilas or 15 mezcals.
Miguel Hernandez, who co-owns Taqueria Hecho en México (6036 Stockton Blvd.) with his nephew, Alejandro Galindo, serves up Jalisco-style tacos with recipes he learned from his mother and other family members in the restaurant business. One of Hecho en Mexico’s most popular is the crispy taco filled with shrimp or fish. The tortilla is crisped up on the grill, not deep fried. “We make everything fresh—that’s what our customers like about us,” says Hernandez.
Taco trucks are ubiquitous in Sacramento’s neighborhoods, but few enjoy the enthusiastic following that has made Don Chuy’s Birria (6035 Stockton Blvd.) a legend among taco aficionados. Originally located in a convenience store, the operation shifted to a truck that is regularly stationed outside of Cajun Madness restaurant on Stockton Boulevard. Owner Jesus Muñoz says customers travel from near and far for their specialty, birria tacos. “We marinate the meat, either beef or goat, overnight, then we cook it for five hours. It’s very tender and juicy. My family has been making it this way for 40 years.” As Don Chuy’s has grown in popularity, lines have gotten longer, especially on the weekends. But as Muñoz explains, “We’re on a truck, but this is not a fast-food place. The wait is worth it.”