It is reported with firm conviction by New Orleans natives that “there are no good tacos in New Orleans” But how can this be true? There certainly has been an Hispanic diaspora established in the city (primarily Honduran) following Katrina when eager Latin American folks poured into town to work their asses off to breathe life back into New Orleans.
So after a few weeks of intel where we quizzed friends, neighbors and strangers we set out on a recent morning to see if we could establish a bona fide New Orleans taco trail.
We ate bad tacos off Elysian Fields; we ate bad tacos off Bienville; we ate bad tacos off Jefferson Davis; we ate bad tacos off Carrolton.
We ate bad tacos, seemingly, across the entirety of New Orleans.
Bad taco #1: Las Delicias taco truck parks just north of the Lowes off Elysian Fields at the juncture of the turn-around where drivers can head back toward the Mississippi. I’ve been hearing good things about this concern for a few months but their barbaco taco was plainly bad, sent careering off path by multiple globules of unrendered fat.The “al pastor” was better, not genuine, nor off the trompo but a fair effort. Corn tortillas at Las Delicias are handmade and of good quality. A green, avocado salsa is available but that treasured capsaicin blast is nowhere to be found.
Bad Taco #2: Norma’s Sweets Bakery is a Latin American grocery store with a small hot line in the rear of the building where you can get Honduran, Cuban and Nicaraguan soul food plates along with tacos, Cubanos and pupusas.You are not allowed to order single tacos. This is forbidden so I charted two carne guisada tacos along with a refried bean. The wheels came off when I poured the attendant green salsa over the carne tacos unbidden. The salsa was spoiled. Thereby spoiling the meat. The refried bean taquito fared better; it was tiny but decent.
Bad Taco #3: Brown Derby inside the Exxon gas station at Jefferson Davis and Tulane. A bizarre experience where I was accosted by a worker for taking photographs; I explained that I was writing an article on tacos in New Orleans and the gentleman backed off a bit but the whole scene made the team uneasy.There are no tacos on the menu but the hot-line deli lady makes good scratch tortillas and will put steam line meats in them. I ordered a mystery meat that turned out to be mainly silver-skin, it was like eating rubber bands that had been rubbed with charcoal briquets. The salsa was Louisiana Hot Sauce. At least the tortilla was good.
Bad Taco #4: Taqueria Guerrero enjoys a good reputation in New Orleans but I can’t figure out why.I ordered an al pastor taco that was stewed (no trompo) pork with some oddball tasting Moroccan spice as well as a carne azada taco that was similarly stewed. The flour tortillas were handmade but not done by someone who has any business cooking in a restaurant. Salsa was bland. Service quite nice. I won’t be back.
That finished our day of bad tacos. We drove around for three hours trying like hell to approximate a taco trail that we could replicate from time to time when our cravings for Mexican food hit.
New Orleans is the best eating city in the US, that has been an established fact for well over one hundred years. But what we don’t do well is tacos. To confirm this I will gather a crew together and go on another taco sortie in the next few months.
It will take that long to get this awful taste out of my mouth.