If the pandemic has had any sort of silver lining, it’s been made of corn tortillas — and speckled with onions, cilantro and dribbles of hot sauce.
I’m talking tacos.
Tacos have been there for me since, forever. But also since the world shut down last year, leaving us to analyze the wreckage of humanity while bubbled away in our homes.
It is a fact of science that wreckage-analysis is made 82% better by tacos. And, it is a fact, that tacos are one of the very best foods (sorry steaks, nachos, omelets) for carryout.
Thus, as our pandemic days piled up, so too did my takeout tacos. I like to look back on it as research and development. I ate all the tacos to deliver you this list, which I present to you on Cinco de Mayo, a day that’s — been thoroughly commercialized, yes, but that’s also a worthy observance of the multifaceted things that make Mexico and Mexican culture so wonderful. Tacos included.
5 Cinco de Mayo-worthy tacos from Naples to Fort Myers
The only thing better than Maria’s tacos are the multiple generations of the Romero family that have helped this place succeed and grow since 1992. But those tacos. I go back and forth on which one’s my favorite. Maybe the chorizo with its shimmery splatters of grease. Maybe the mild shreds of chicken kicked up by some house-made salsa verde. Maybe the carnitas, because mmm carnitas. Or maybe get a few of all of them and call it a delicious day.
(locations in Bonita Springs and Naples; facebook.com/mariatacosymas)
Tacos Mexican Restaurant
How can I talk about tacos and not talk about Tacos? Tacos’ tacos are tacos as tacos should be. Hard tacos. Soft tacos. Street tacos. Tacos al pastor. Tacos al carbon. From what I’ve tasted at this 9-month-old Cape Coral spot, there are no wrong tacos at Tacos. Just tacos done the Tacos way, which is to say, so deliciously and taco-ly right.
(30 Hancock Bridge Parkway, Cape Coral; 239-257-3112; tacosmexicanrestaurant.com)
Taqueria San Julian
I have, through the years, spelled out my love for this place in almost every conceivable way. These tacos are so simple. So beautiful. And so utterly delicious. San Julian’s tacos al pastor remain my favorite. You’ll see the layers of pork spinning on a vertical rotisserie behind the counter. You’ll drool as a cook shaves a layer of sizzling meat into a fresh tortilla. You’ll tap a foot impatiently as they smatter on cilantro and white onions. You’ll dig in as soon as humanly possible. And then maybe go back for a few more.
(locations in Fort Myers and Naples; find it on Facebook)
Death by Taco
I’d venture to say there’s no one more dedicated to creating unique, from-scratch tacos than Skyler Denison. Part cook, part passionately obsessive gourmand, Denison doesn’t play. Look at his Rockefeller taco. This tortilla-swathed masterpiece melds cornmeal-battered oyster mushrooms, house-pickled corn, preserved-lemon aioli and shallot-fennel slaw. It’s layers of texture woven with layers of flavor to create something mouthwatering. And, at this little red food trailer, it’s just the beginning.
(various locations; facebook.com/deathbytaco239)
It’s always nice to see delicious restaurants succeed, and if Turco Taco’s growth through the pandemic is any indicator, it sure has. From classic carne asada and tinga tacos to vegetales tacos packed with pepitas, pickled onions and avocado mousse, these are wonderful tacos top to bottom. Tacos worthy of success.
(two locations in Naples; theturcotaco.com)
Jean Le Boeuf is the brand under which our restaurant critics have written for more than 40 years. This article came from staff writer Annabelle Tometich. Follow our critics at facebook.com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram; email email@example.com. Connect with this reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org; @abellewrites (Instagram)