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TACO TRYST

Three must-try, off-the-beaten-track taquerias.

WRITTEN BY ANN LINDEMANN
PHOTOS BY SHEA EVANS

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Tacos may be the Rodney Dangerfield of the culinary world. With burritos, tamales, and enchiladas vying for people’s taste buds, tacos don’t always get the respect they deserve. Fortunately, there are a few spots in the Reno-Tahoe area where people understand how to prepare a tasty taco with love and intent.

As with most clandestine foodie finds, these joints aren’t found on the main drag. Yet, it’s a trip worth taking when authentic tacos are the ultimate quest. Here are three taco treks to add to your culinary bucket list.

Authentic taco joint

Nestled next to a carniceria and a Mexican market in Reno, Tacos El Rey is as authentic as it gets north of the border. With 12 tables, Tacos El Rey is large for typical taco joint standards, so it’s a favorite for big, gregarious, multi-generational family meals. Mexican music streams in the background, and a soccer game is apt to be on TV.

Ambience aside, the real reason to trek across town is for the luscious al pastor tacos. Garnished with lime, fresh cilantro, and onions, the spicy pork is tender and juicy. However, the mouthwatering carne asada and carnitas tacos are equally as fabulous. Happily, at a buck a pop, you won’t have to choose. Order a few of these beauties, which are wrapped in small, fluffy, fresh tortillas and served with homemade salsa.

Bundles of joy

The Lady Tamales is tucked into a tiny complex just past the prison in Carson City. To say this spot is unassuming is an understatement. Still, it is a beloved take-out spot for locals in the know, who flock there for delicious homemade tamales made on site.

Despite the name, The Lady Tamales’ fans are just as likely to pick up several $1 tacos. Deciding whether to order the pork, chicken, or beef tacos is akin to picking a favorite child — each is special in its own way. Served street-taco style on small, homemade tortillas, all of the tender meats exude a rich, slow-cooked flavor profile. The tacos are topped with finely chopped lettuce, onion, and cilantro and served with a cup of warm salsa verde.

Wood-smoked meats

Situated on a busy corner in Incline Village, T’s Mesquite Rotisserie is wedged between a movie theater and the 7-11. Your mouth will be watering before you ever enter, as the rotisserie meat aroma is sure to envelope you in the parking lot. Frequented by a broad cross-section of construction workers, Sierra Nevada College students, families, and anyone who appreciates good, cheap food, T’s is wildly popular.

It’s all about the meat there, which is marinated with soy, lime, wine, garlic, and a blend of spices. With that said, the tacos don’t gild the lily: a fresh tortilla, succulent, flavorful meat, and a pile of fresh cilantro. These tacos are fabulous in their luscious simplicity.

Honorable mention

Buenos Grill in Reno is well worth a shout out for its off-the-charts, California-style fish tacos made with a host of fresh ingredients.

A while back, writer Ann Lindemann scanned her email box and spotted this subject line: “Do you like to eat tacos?” Well, of course she accepted the assignment from edible Reno-Tahoe and enjoyed every delicious bit of research!

Resources

Buenos Grill
Open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily
3892 Mayberry Drive, Reno • 775-787-8226

Tacos El Rey
Open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. • 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri. ­– Sat.
2145 Sutro St., Reno • 775-323-0882
5100 Mae Anne Ave., Ste., Reno 103 • 775-787-1818 
6633 S. Virginia St., Reno

The Lady Tamales
Open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tues. – Fri. • 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat. • 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sun.
33 Woodside Drive, Ste. 102, Carson City • 775-841-6533

T’s Mesquite Rotisserie
Open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily
901 Tahoe Blvd., Ste. 3, Incline Village • 775-831-2832

Recipes

Cucumber Salad

(courtesy of Jamie Swing, manager, T’s Mesquite Rotisserie in Incline Village. Serves 6 to 8)

“This recipe was actually my great grandma’s,” Jamie Swing says, “and it’s super simple.”

5 sliced cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled (“We partially peel ours at T’s,” Swing says.)

1 carrot, thinly sliced

5 radishes, thinly sliced

½ red onion, thinly sliced

Seasoned rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Use enough rice vinegar to cover all vegetables. Marinate at least a few hours before enjoying.

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