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Learning how to eat a taco

Different ways to enjoy and eat a taco

Bend over at the waist to keep your shirt clean

Tacos are an everyday snack/meal in Mexico and the United States. However, there are different ways to enjoy and eat a taco. It could be surprising on the ways to eat one.

Beef Taco
No, not ground beef. I'm talking shredded, spicy tender beef in a deep fried, crunchy corn tortilla. Topped with lettuce and, if it's a good taco joint, the crumbly, white Cotija cheese with cheddar cheese. Taco Tip: Mark a taco stand down a notch if they use only regular cheddar; up a notch if they add a tomato slice; and cast a wary eye if you unwrap your taco and its swimming in grease from insufficient draining. If that happens more than once, do not return to that establishment.

Chicken Taco
Not my usual preference, mainly because most taco stands tend to use boiled/simmered chicken, and it tends to get the taco shell a bit soggy. Can be served soft instead of deep fried. Taco Tip: Some establishments such as Rubio's serve grilled chicken soft tacos, which is my preferred way to eat a chicken taco.

Carnitas Taco
This is simmered, tender pork taco, served soft style (not deep fried). A good choice if you want a bit of variety in your taco diet. Typically, it will be served up with guacamole and cilantro but no cheese. But you won't miss the cheese if the pork is prepared well. Taco Tip:A big plus to taco stands that fry up the pork before placing in the tortilla -- this gives the pork a nice crunchy texture when biting into it.

Carne Asada Taco
Marinated pounded steak in a soft corn tortilla, topped with guacamole, onions and cilantro. This is the meat lovers' taco, the one which will satisfy that carnivorous craving after eating salads all week. Taco Tip: Carne asada traditionally is flank (cheap) steak pounded tender and marinated before cooking. Some taco joints do this better than others -- stay away from stands that serve you gristly, gamey carne asada.

Fish Taco
A San Diego favorite, thanks to its introduction to the city by Rubio's restaurants. Battered and deep fried white fish, in a soft corn tortilla topped with cabbage, white sauce, salsa and a lime. Weird as it may sound to Southern California visitors, the fish taco is actually one of the mildest and subtle tasting of all the varieties of tacos. If prepared right, you'll experience a nice, delicate medley of flavors, none of them overwhelming. These things are so popular here that even non-fish eaters will eat a fish taco. Taco Tip: Be wary of any place that serves you a fish taco and the fish looks suspiciously like a fish stick. Uh, uh, no good.

Carne al Pastor (Adobada) Taco
These tacos are a must-try for anyone wanting typical, street-fare tacos found in Mexico. Al Pastor (shepherd's style) tacos are usually spit-grilled marinated pork sliced up in soft, mini-corn tortillas, topped with onions and guacamole; some places also serve up carne asada this way. Al pastor tacos are what you'll find at the streetside taco stands when visiting Tijuana - the wonderful aroma will draw you in, and for a $1, you can usually get three small tacos. You can't beat that. Taco Tip: If you find a taco stand that serves this style of taco, definitely give them a try.

Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)
Ah, the old cheap late night standby (and personal favorite), when nothing else will satisfy that need for fried Mexican food. Usually served up in threes or fives (As in "three rolled tacos with guacamole") for a couple of bucks, taquitos are like compact tacos: a corn tortilla filled with beef or chicken, and rolled up and deep fried crisp. Topped with a big glob of guacamole and cheese, and it's a meal perfect for shoveling down your throat quickly. Taco Tip: A plus for taco stands that add lettuce and tomatoes without asking; a minus for those that use ground beef. And if a stand uses some lime-green paste that vaguely resembles colored sour cream and calls it guacamole, run from it as fast as you can!

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