Best Tacos in Jacksonville

Cantina Laredo Tacos, photo by Francesco Salomoni

Tacos_AideeChavezIG

It’s not a surprise that I’m interested in good and delicious tacos. As I’m from Mexico, the mother country of tacos, getting tacos is one of my earliest memories. Wherever I live, I make sure I always find good tacos. They’re part of my survival kit. Eating tacos with friends and family is a necessity for me, it goes in the same group as drinking water and getting enough sleep. I can eat tacos every day, maybe even multiple times a day, for the rest of my life.

Fortunately, my love for tacos seems to be an American obsession too. All across the USA people are opening taquerias. While most of them are not traditional, the tacos taste good, and at the end of the day that is all that matters. One place to get amazing tacos in Jacksonville is the Mitt Tex-Mex cafe. The Mitt is a bit more Tex than Mex to be truthful, the flavors are big and bold and take my taste buds right back to my childhood in Chihuahua. The restaurant has been open for a year now and they impress with a range of classic yet simple taco options.

Mitt Cafe, photos by Francesco Salomoni
The Mitt Cafe, Photos by Francesco Salomoni

The Mitt Tex-Mex Cafe

Their classic Tex-Mex tacos fall into two categories: soft tacos, which are made with homemade fluffy flour tortillas, and crispy tacos, which are fashioned from deep-fried corn tortillas. The Mitt has both. My favorite taco is the buffalo chicken taco, but the Barbacoa taco, which was a special when I went, was pretty delicious too. Be careful on the salsa bar, they have one of the spiciest salsas I have ever tried, it’s made out of chile de arbol and it had my mouth burning when I tried it. I would stay with the other two salsa options they offer but if you are feeling brave and ready for a good cry, go for it. I applaud your decision. The tacos at The Mitt come with rice and beans and a side of guacamole if you want it. The food here is based on traditional family recipes and taste just like abuela used to make. When you eat at The Mitt you are sure to be eating good quality food made with love from their family to yours in a fantastic atmosphere.

Cantina Laredo, photo by Francesco Salomoni
Cantina Laredo, Photos by Francesco Salomoni

Cantina Laredo

Another of my favorite places to eat tacos is Cantina Laredo. The first time I came to visit to Jacksonville eight or so years ago, Cantina Laredo was one of the restaurants I visited. I had tacos then and I have tacos now. They are delicious. I know a lot of my friends roll their eyes when I tell them that indeed my favorite tacos come from a chain restaurant but it’s because when it comes down to flavor, they know how to keep things fresh and delicious. My favorite tacos are the carnitas, and the ahi tuna tacos. I say go during their happy hour, and eat all the tacos, which is what I do. Without fail, their tacos come out perfect. Every time I go I feel like I should take a picture of my plate. Also, Cantina Laredo is the only place that I can find tamales by the docena during winter time. They are a chain but they are a Texas chain that gets my Mexican food needs.

Taco Charro_via Michael Sorrow FB _WEB__001_
Photo by Michael Sorrow

Taco Charro

We all need a Taco Charro in our lives. I am always going to go for the taco shop that has the menu in Spanish. The place where I can see myself in the face of the workers. And that is why I love Taco Charro. This place is so good that if you don’t get there early enough they’ll run out of tacos. They open at 6:00PM and they close when the food is gone. I found them by accident about a year ago when I was driving back home from yoga class feeling kind of tired and sad. And then in the horizon—like a beacon of deliciousness—I saw a white truck decorated with what it looked like Christmas lights. It was like heaven opening it’s doors to me. I saw the white light and everything. I immediately swerved my car all the way to the right side of Beach Boulevard crossing three lanes just to get to them. I had 4 tacos sitting inside of my car by myself, and it was the best day of my life. You can’t go wrong here. But, for beginners, I say order carnitas and steak for sure. If you want something on the lighter side go for fish or the vegetarian option. Each taco is filled with all the yummy things a real taco should have—onions, cilantro and meat in a corn tortilla. Of course, I am always happy to see the Jalapeño food truck, or when I go to Cantina Louie too. You’ll find fine tacos at both places.

But at the end of the day, nothing beats my mom’s picadillo tacos. When people ask me where your all time favorite place is for tacos? Without doubt I say my mom’s kitchen, of course. For a long time I couldn’t understand why she would make this dish every single week but then when I was about 9 years old I went on vacation for 2 whole weeks, and it was the worst! I missed her picadillo tacos so much. I never complained about anything she cooked again after that. Below is the recipe for her picadillo tacos. I have made it with vegan fake meat too and it tastes pretty good. Whether you go to one of the taco spots I mentioned or make your own, you can’t go wrong. Buen provecho!

Photos by Francesco Salomoni
Photos by Francesco Salomoni

La Madre Cecilia’s Picadillo

Ingredients

Photo by Francesco Salomoni1 lb. ground beef or fake meat of your choice
1 large or 3 small Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
½ medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons canola oil

Directions:

1. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil to medium heat, in a large frying pan. Add the potatoes, cook until most sides of the potatoes are browned and crispy. Drain onto plate lined with paper towels; set aside.
2. In that same pan, add the ground beef, season with cumin, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook until browned nicely. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. While the ground beef is cooking, add the tomatoes,  water and 1 teaspoon of salt to the blender, blend until smooth, and set aside.
3. Add the potatoes to the ground beef, stir well to combine. Add the freshly blended tomato sauce to the beef and potato mixture, stir well. Taste for salt and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced.
4. Warm a bunch of tortillas in the comal and voila time to eat my mom’s tacos.

About Aidee Chavez Frescas

october, 2021

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