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How to spot a GREAT taco spot Exclusive Wisdoms 

How to spot a GREAT taco spot


People think that just cause I’m Mexican that I eat tacos ALL the time. Smh.

You muthafuckin right!!!

I can quote “Blood in Blood out” and Chalino Sanchez lyrics on command. I have the shot mark on my arm that proves I was born in Mexico and one of my exes tried doing brujerĂ­a on me. I have drank Pepsi from a plastic bag and judge people who tattoo their own name on themselves.

Yes. This makes me an EXPERT on tacos.

Tacos weren’t a luxury back then. I can’t relate to people who have had “taco night”, whatever that means. Taco night was Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. And…

Tacos meant survival. Maybe just tacos de frijoles. Or taquitos de papa. Bro, give me tortillas and we can make tacos out of anything. Put a hot dog in my tortilla and watch me flourish.

There’s levels to this shit.

Time has passed, dude from Bronco died and everyone loves Mexican food. Tacos shops everywhere. National chains screaming authentic. Tip #1 – if the menu is in English, it’s NOT authentic. Chipotle is real Mexican like Patron is real tequila.

“I’ve been in this game for years, it made me an animal, there’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual” – Biggie

Not all tacos are built the same. The brother Eddie (@eddieftw) hit me up with the idea of doing something real for our people. Something that the Aztecs predicted on a smaller calender in the piramid where they had crazy parties every Saturday. Literature that will help you prosper for the rest of your life.

‘How to spot a GREAT taco spot”


The best taco spots are on the southside of the city. There is usually either a Cricket or Boost mobile store within a six block radius of it. The same radius should include a currency exchange and dude selling bootlegg DVDs outside. Consider yourself at home if there’s a lady selling tamales or elotes on the corner. A homeless dude outside asking for a quarter makes it official.


If you open the door to the establishment and Los Temerarios are playing through surround sound, the tacos are delicious. Los Cadetes, any rancheras, Banda Recodo and Los Bukis all give extra flavor to tacos.20120606-209475-chicago-tacos-zacatacos-al-pastor

There are certain things to look for inside the taco shop that guarantee an amazing taco experience. A-Z

A. TV with a futbol game playing. Extra points if it’s NOT el America 🙂
B. A calendar from a nearby panaderĂ­a hanging on Wall
C. Mazapán or Carlos V for sale next to the register
D. Zapata mural on a wall
E. Gang graffiti in restroom
F. Restroom is Co-ed
G. An ad for a mariachi hanging on door
H. Prices for sour cream, lemons and aguacate written with marker
I. Picture of a dead relative with a San Judas candle
J. Chiles en vinagre already on table
K. Salsa roja y verde on deck (no store bought bottles)
L. One flat iron where EVERYTHING is cooked
M. Menu has it as “bistec” not carne asada
N. Two tortillas per taco
O. Cops eating there (them fools drive all day, they know the dope spots)
P. Agua de horchata next to the agua de Jamaica…Tamarindo further proves it’s legit
Q. They sell Mexican Coke bottles and calling cards
R. Jarritos are a must
S. They ask “con todo?” even though it’s just cebolla y cilantro
T. Option to put lechuga y tomate instead
U. Al Pastor twirling on that gyro machine
V. Tacos served on those oval plastic trays they use at Burger joints
W. Ad for mechanic or apartment for rent by window
X. Cashier speaks a lil English, unless it’s a kid, usually owners son (taco joints that break child labor laws are THE best)
Y. Writes your order on post it note and hangs it by Taquero
Z. Tacos to go are in aluminum foil and a paper bag (hold it from the bottom cause it could rip)


tacochefThe actual Taquero is THE most important key to a dope taco spot. The best taqueros don’t know a lick of English. (except “madafaka”) If your taquero is wearing a Marlboro t shirt (tucked in all the way of course) with a naked chick or his home state on his baseball hat….be prepared to have a mouthgasm!

He can’t be taller than 5’9. A tall taquero is the devil’s work. Big mustache with no beard let’s you know that he knows what he’s doing. Trust him. He loves this. He’ll even ask you “como están los tacos?” with a crooked smile. Don’t be afraid of the bags under his eyes or the smell of yesterday’s beer. Heck, he may STILL be drunk. It’s common knowledge that la Cruda forces you to be great. The more hungover he is….the greater the taste enhancement will be. Consider yourself lucky that beer was on sale yesterday.


Tacos make you do things that you’re not even aware of. Your body reacts to tacos. How do you know if the tacos were flame? First your eyes will close and you might make sounds. Some might sound a lil sexual. You see taco eating is an experience. Your body is agreeing. Might agree so much that you nod your head in a “yes” fashion. Yes. The tacos were FIRE.

(Disclaimer: there can be exceptions to some of these based on what city you live in…but 95% of these are not debatable)

*sidenote: I was prepared to say that a great taco spot closes really late on weekends. The more I thought about it…No. Great taco spots don’t need to stay open late. They already did great based on performance, they don’t need that extra drunk money just cause everything else is closed.

One final thing. Please know the difference between a TAQUERIA and a Mexican Restaurant. It is NOT the same thing. Never order tacos from a Mexican restaurant…and never order a platillo from a Taqueria. Follow these rules and enjoy life.

Now be great.

“Tres de asada carnal!!”

ricos tacostacoskitchen

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13 thoughts on “How to spot a GREAT taco spot

  1. http://Rocelia

    This article is hilarious! And just to show you how I know my taquerias (accent on the i, please) that top pic look like Zacatacos to me, ese… (The one on 71st. My favorite.)

    1. http://Fabian

      Yeah the 71st is one the best!

    2. http://Lily

      I have to disagree. The one on 59th is/was the best. I’m so annoyed it’s closed for renovation. I hope it doesn’t change the taste of the tacos. Part of the experience was cramming into that tiny little place where 20 people were waiting for their order, 50 people were eating at the counter, and them having to read off an entire order when it was ready for pick up because everyone threw away the ticket with their number even though it was their millionth time visiting the place.

      1. http://Fabian

        I had 59th also I started there but like you said it sometimes got crazy packed and yup hope taste doesnt change but would be good to have more space. I think both have the same taste but thats just me and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    3. http://Tracy

      I love zacatacos…..

    4. http://Tracy

      I love zacatacos….. They are the best

  2. http://Fabian

    Hell yeah the spot on 71st is the great but there are a lot I like La Internacional(Pacos Tacos) on Ashland, Pulaski and Archer. Now I’m hungry!

  3. This was hilarious. But now I’m wondering what your opinions are on taco prices. I’ve seen some non-Mexican chefs on Twitter complaining about customers who say their tacos are too expensive. Like you, tacos for me are about survival. They always have been. They’re the original Dollar Menu, and if you’re charging one cent over $2.00 for your tacos someone should slap you around with a chancla.

    No love for the butter taco with a pinch of salt? You don’t know a good taco unless you can make/eat butter tacos. And don’t even talk to me about microwaving tortillas. You heat tortillas right on the open flame of the stove top.

    1. http://Mike

      Smacked with a chancla ..ha ha hilarious!!!!

  4. http://Pepé

    YĂł! This guy is right…. Best tacos are on the SouthSide!
    Tho, he was missing a letter or two between the A-Z…

    CH. If they sell PosolĂ© o Birria on the weekends only, ps ya sta… flame!

    Ă‘. If the Taco spot is inside a fruteria o carniceria, even more legit!

    Anyway, dope article, thanks for the giggles…

  5. http://Awo

    Funny article, but the only way to ***really*** tell a good taqueria is if you order a steak burrito or steak tacos, and then they take out a piece or meat, grill it on an open flame, cut it up, and put it in your food.

    If it’s not fresh broiled, it’s not worth it. And tons of places on the south side don’t do that.

    And the best taqueria in chicago is not on the south side. El Asadero on Montrose Ave and Lincoln Ave is better than any south side taqueria.

    1. http://Fabian

      La Internacional (Pacos Tacos) they do fresh broiled and it’s on the south side. I think Zacatacos does that too.

  6. http://JZ

    La Internacional aka Pacos Tacos is the closest to the best tacos away from Mexico (Guanajuato or Arandas style tacos). Very basic, nothing much added but the essentials ; cebolla, cilandro, salsa and limones, that’s depending on how expensive they are. I have no respect for taquerias that offer cheese or sour cream on the tacos. I am sure Zacatacos does the sour cream and cheese therefore is NO GOOD! Yo nomas digo….

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