Take A Taco Tour of Mexico

Here's how Mexico's best taquerias fit into your next vacation.

Although the title is a riff on "encyclopedia," we see Tacopedia as more of a bible for the Mexican dish. Alejandro Escalante, one of the book's eminent taco writers, describes the dish as a kind of sacrament: "A taco, at its simplest, is a tortilla, filling, and salsa—the other holy trinity in Mexico." Each chapter detailing different combinations (there are nearly 20) of these simple ingredients reads like commandments on how to prepare, eat, and appreciate the country's banner offering.

The book outlines the taco shell's rise from edible spoon to a meal in its own right. As an iconic part of Mexican cuisine, tacos have infiltrated some surprising parts of Mexican culture. Mexico City artist Maris Bustamante even patented her own taco in 1979. Here, for your dietary pleasure, we present our picks along the taco trail. Feel free to binge at however many you like.

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Tacos Before Seeing Toros

El Villamelón

Standing outside El Villamelón, you cannot miss the looming bullfighting stadium, Monumental Plaza México. Lest you lose your appetite afterward, grab a griddled campechano taco (generously stuffed with beef and pork) before catching one of the matches.

123 Tintoreto (corner of Augusto Rodin), Ciudad de los Deportes, Mexico City
elvillamelon.com

Before Stopping to Smell the Dahlias at Jardines de México

Fonda Km 107

Make a stop at Fonda Km 107 alongside the Autopista del Sol—The Route of the Sun—where roadside dining has never been more enlightening. Order a taco with homemade sour cream and sausage, then make the 30-minute drive south to a tropical paradise that calls itself the "largest floral theme park in the world."

Km 107, Mexico City–Acapulco Highway, Alpuyeca, Morelos

fonda107.com

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En Route to La Merced Market

Al Andalus

Within walking distance of Mexico City's oldest food market, the Lebanese restaurant Al Andalus is in a stunning 17th-century colonial building. Try their famous tacos árabes, with pork wrapped in a pita.

171 Mesones, Centro Historico, Mexico City
No Website

Seeking Tacos in a Coastal Town

Splash

Restaurants in the seaside town of Rosarito have diners hooked on their fish tacos, so much so that there's a taco bearing its name. (The "Rosarito" is stuffed with lobster.) Splash, a restaurant and cantina at Km 52, has an impressive selection of fresh-fish tacos and an oceanfront view to match.

Km 52 Libre Rosarito-Ensenada, Rosarito, Baja California, Mexico
splashcantina.com/
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In Picturesque Pachuca

Restaurante La Blanca

In charming downtown Pachuca, La Blanca is within sight of the elaborate clock tower, built in the early 20th century to celebrate 100 years of Mexico's independence. Try the restaurant's delicately cooked tender lamb barbacoa (meat slow-cooked over an open fire).

201 Matamoros, Col. Centro, Pachuca, Hidalgo
restaurantelablanca.com

Down on the Corner in Guadalajara

Birriería las 9 Esquinas

In this quaint section of "The Pearl of the West," Las 9 Esquinas is worth a visit as much for its postcard setting as for the succulent tacos de birria made from goat.

384 Cristobal Colón (Corner Galeana), Centro Historico, Guadalajara
las9esquinas.com
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What's More Filling than Tacos? Art.

La Imperial

Just kidding. But you can get your dose of both in the sleek Plaza Carso in Mexico City. The grade of tacos at the Cantina La Imperial are nearly on the level of the art collections housed in the nearby Museo Soumaya and Museo Júmex.

245 Lago Zurich, Col. Ampliación Granada, Mexico City
laimperialcantina.com

A Hearty Meal At the Foot of the Mountains

Santa Bárbara Grill

From Monday to Saturday, Santa Bárbara Grill is open till 2:00 a.m. But the restaurant's scenic views of the Cerro de las Mitras—only a 15-minute ride north—will beckon you to make it here before sunset for chilorios, with pork that is slow-simmered and fried.

3070 Poniente Antonio L. Rodríguez Blvd, Col. Santa María, Monterrey
facebook.com/stabarbaragrillmty
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Take a Rest East of Mérida

We'll take restaurant recommendations from Chipotle fan Hillary Clinton and Spain's Queen Sofía any day. It's no small feat that Hacienda San Ildefonso Teya has been around since 1683 and is still operating today. The hotel-restaurant makes delicious cochinita pibil tacos. Cochinita is a young, suckling pig, and pibil means "buried," as in this little piggy is slowly cooked underground.

Km 12.5 Mérida–Cancún Highway, Mérida, Yucatan
haciendateya.com/inicio

Dig in While Visiting the Teotihuacán Pyramids

La Gruta

Gumball-colored chairs pop against the background of ash-grey rock in this literally cavernous restaurant. In addition to its unreal location—less than a quarter mile from the Pyramid of the Sun within the archaeological zone of Teotihuacán—La Gruta serves finger-licking-good mixiote (pit-barbecued meat) tacos with lamb.

Km 22.6 Ecatepec-Pirámides, Teotihuacán
lagruta.mx
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