If you aren't familiar with the concept, a taqueria is basically a taco shop. But we're not talking about Taco Bell here - these are delicious AUTHENTIC tacos, and Cincinnati has a long list of them. Take a seat and prepare to take some notes. Here is a list of taquerias we now have:
Nada, Bakersfield OTR, Taqueria Mercado, La Mexicana, Taqueria Maya, Mazunte, Django, Tacocracy, Taco Azul, Taqueria Yolandita, Gomez Salsa, Taqueria Cruz, Taqueria Paisanos, El Valle Verde Taqueria, Taqueria Mi Ranchito and the list goes on and on!
The thing is, you really need to find out the specialty at each place. Then when you go, you're not just getting tacos every time. That's right, taquerias have more than tacos! With a little help you can take your own taco tour of Cincinnati! I haven't been to EVERY one of those in the list above, but I've hit up probably half of them!
The Best Choice: Chicken & Corn Enchiladas
Nada, Downtown Cincinnati
Nada used to be one of my favorite choices in town, but with so many other taquerias it sort of dropped off my list. That said, on my last visit, my friend Danielle let me try her favorite menu item: Chicken & Corn Enchiladas. And I have to say, WOWZA! It definitely changed my order forever so I highly recommend this one.
The Best Choice: Carnitas Torta
Taqueria Mercado, Downtown Cincinnati or Fairfield
Oh Taqueria Mercado, how I love you. Downtown or Fairfield – it doesn't matter. Uber authentic, small, local and delicious. Far and away, the torta sandwich is my favorite menu item. I've tried them at other places and they just don't compare. Imagine: everything you love on a taco (meat, avocado, beans, lettuce, sour cream) on a crispy and light bun combined to make the best sandwich your hands will ever grip.
The Best Choice: Queso
Bakersfield OTR, Over-the-Rhine
So I have a confession: My name is Food Hussy and I'm a cheese addict. It's fine – I've come to terms with it and apparently every taqueria knows about my addiction because they keep making queso that I can't resist. Bakersfield OTR is REALLY popular, so I recommend going at an "off" time unless you want to wait for two hours. That said, when you get in, get the queso. You'll get a cast iron pan bubbling with cheesy, spicy goodness. Your belly will thank you for it.
The Best Choice: Guacamole
La Mexicana, Newport, KY
La Mexicana was the first taqueria I went to in Cincinnati and it holds a special place in my heart. It's very authentic and they serve things like goat (yum) and brains (not yum). There's even a little grocery store in the back. My favorite tacos there are the vegetarian; it's mainly toppings, but I love that. The serious deliciousness, though, comes in a bowl – the guacamole. It's fresh, creamy, cool and spicy. It's just so delicious. (And they have Mexican coke, aka REAL sugar.)
The Best Choice: Everything
Mazunte is a tiny little spot next to a Rainbow Car Wash on Madison Road. But once you walk in, you know it's someplace special. There is a little tortilla station to the left and the counter to order to the right. Seating is sparce so I would recommend coming in a little early or late or you might be waiting a bit. But most importantly – the food! The tacos are delicious, pork was our favorite. The corn is really great - very authentic - grilled and then topped with cheese crumbles and aioli. They also serve pasole which is a really great hearty soup with veggies & meat in a rich broth. The chips are made fresh (as are the tortillas) and they offer authentic drinks like horchata, which is a sort of cold rice milk drink with nutmeg. Really, at Mazunte, you can't go wrong, it's all good.
There you have it: my own taqueria tour for you! I hope you enjoy all the taqueria goods and if you find something else you love - head over to TheFoodHussy.com and let me know!