Jeanne Huff here, and I am proud to present a roundup of our favorite Taco Trials for Cinco de Mayo.
I am not going to say too much about this holiday, except that I know this is NOT Mexican Independence Day.
I am going to let my Taco Trails cohort, reporter Nicole Foy, expound on the day — and its meaning — while I go check out some of these delicious tacos.
If you’ve been spending every May eagerly awaiting a chance to eat guacamole and toast our southern neighbor’s independence with margaritas and Coronas, I’ve got some bad news for you. That’s right! It’s me, Nicole Foy, Hispanic affairs reporter and designated taco snob. I’m back to ruin your appropriated traditions.
Like Jeanne said, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Instead, it commemorates the Mexican army’s surprise victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The holiday is observed almost exclusively in the United States by the Mexican-American community or as a celebration of Mexican culture. It’s also celebrated in Puebla, the Mexican town where the battle took place. Mexico’s independence from Spain is actually celebrated by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans on Sept. 16.
So, is Cinco de Mayo a fake holiday invented by Americans as an excuse to eat not-very-good salsa and bad nachos? That’s a complicated question I’ll let historians answer. Instead, I’ll just say that Mexican-Americans in many parts of the country have embraced Cinco de Mayo as another chance to get together with family, celebrate their culture and eat really good food. A few Treasure Valley Spanish radio stations are hosting a celebration at Caldwell’s Indian Creek Plaza today that should be a lot of fun.
Real holiday or not, Cinco de Mayo is the perfect time to patronize your favorite local taco truck or Mexican restaurant. Below, you’ll find the definitive list of every taco featured in the Idaho Press’ Taco Trials so far. Let us know which one was your favorite or which ones we missed.
(Pro tip: Avoid the impulse to wear a sombrero on your taco search. You’ll thank me later.)
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Jeanne’s pick: Tacos el Rey, 4202 Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. No chicharrón tacos. Barbacoa tacos are $1.50 each.
Nicole’s pick: Tacos Colima Food Truck, 3222 N. Middleton Road in Nampa. Tacos de chicharrón: $3 each.
Jeanne’s pick: Campos Market, 413 N. Orchard St. in Boise. Lengua tacos are $2.50 each.
Nicole’s pick: Aguililla Taco Truck, 324 11th Ave. N. in Nampa. Lengua tacos are $1.50 each.
Jeanne’s pick: Carniceria Coalcoman, 5234 West Fairview Ave. in Boise. Pork carnitas and chorizo tacos are $1.25 each.
Nicole’s pick: Tacos Lupita, a taco bus, 115 16th Ave. S. in downtown Nampa.
Jeanne Huff’s pick: Tacos El Pariente, 423 E. Karcher Road in Nampa. Tacos are $1.50 each.
Nicole’s pick: Pantera Market #2, 1802 N. Franklin Blvd. in Nampa (near Interstate 84). Chicken tacos are $1.25 each.
Carne asada tacos
Jeanne Huff’s pick: Taqueria La Flama, 1680 N. Westland Drive in Boise. Tacos range from $1.75 to $1.95 each; carne asada tacos are $1.95. If you go for happy hour (2 to 5 p.m.) tacos are 99 cents apiece.
Nicole’s pick: Taquería Mexico Chiquito, 615 Caldwell Blvd. in Nampa. Look for the large orange food truck in front of Dave’s Quick Lube, next to Video Mexico on Caldwell Boulevard. Tacos are $1.50 each.
Jeanne Huff’s pick: Nueva Vida Bakery, 1424 Second St. S. in Nampa.
Nicole’s pick: Campos Market, 3302 Caldwell Blvd. in Nampa.
Jeanne Huff’s pick: Tacos Y Mariscos El Compa, 605 N. Fifth Avenue in Caldwell. Fish tacos are $2.75 each.
Nicole’s pick: Basilio’s Tacos at 10565 W. Lake Hazel Road (Lake Hazel Road and Five Mile) in Boise.
Jeanne Huff’s pick: Tin Roof Tacos, 115 S. Broadway Ave. in Boise; 1750 W. McMillan Drive in Meridian. tinrooftacos.com. Vegetarian tacos are $2.25 each.
Tin Roof Tacos was started by Sandy and Susan, two sisters from Texas who were pining so badly for street tacos like they remembered, they decided to open up their own place. All the tacos are made in-house and from scratch and include some pretty non-traditional ingredients along with traditional ones. For instance, the beef brisket taco is topped with queso fresco and cilantro onion mix, and the fried chicken taco has chile lime breading and a jalapeno ranch dressing. Most of the tacos there are $2.25; some are $2.50. “They are not only unique, but you get more taco for less Dinero,” it says on the website.
TRT has three vegetarian tacos: Rajas — roasted poblanos, onions, mushroom and red pepper topped with queso fresco; Black Bean — black beans cooked with chipotle peppers, topped with pico de gallo and cilantro avocado sauce; and Roasted Corn — Roasted sweet corn blended with chipotle mayonnaise and queso fresco, topped with pico de gallo and cilantro.
Nicole’s pick: Calle 75, 110 N. 11th St. in Boise; at The Village at Meridian, 3635 E. Longwing Lane. calle75tacos.com. Most street tacos are two for $7; three for $10.
I was shocked at Calle 75’s wide variety of vegetarian taco options. Here are the ones I selected for the competition:
Papas y rajas con crema (potatoes, roasted peppers, onions, cream). Three for $11.
Baja Portobello (mushrooms, cilantro, garlic, cabbage, roma pico). Two for $8.
Harvest Taco (squash, kale, pico, coriander cream, sunflower seeds) Three for $11.
Veggie street taco (yellow squash, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, pico and lime.) Three for $10.
An important note: Calle 75 staff also informed me that they have vegan salsas and hot sauces. (A lot of hot sauce recipes call for chicken stock, but those don’t.)