Our Take-Three Tuesday this week was crispy tacos or tacos fritos. All of the places our members suggested were in Racine. We checked out menus of some Mexican places in Milwaukee and Kenosha and we couldn’t see these tacos specifically listed on the menus. Are crispy tacos a Racine specialty? One of my favorite food bloggers from Chicago, really seems to appreciate Racine’s tacos fritos. Check out his Racine taco reports here. We got a little crazy and went to five places in Racine to try these tacos, and here is the report.
Coming in at No. 5,
Pico’s Tacos and Cerveza, 550 3 Mile Rd, Racine, Wisconsin. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/picostacosandcerveza/info?tab=overview
Pico’s is a new kid on the block and there is a lot of excitement about a new Mexican spot on the north side.
The interior is attractively furnished, however, there is no clear place to go when placing a take-out order, which I think many people will do. The menu includes a few items that are uncommonly on Mexican menus and I look forward to returning.
.We ordered the Fluffy Tacos with ground beef with rice and beans for $7.50.
The tacos came out super crispy and not fluffy in the slightest. That’s fine, I like crispy, but the term fluffy may throw some people off. Like most of the crispy tacos in Racine, the toppings are lettuce, tomatoes, and queso fresco. One suggestion I would make is for Pico to put a little more rice on the plate — rice is inexpensive, and their portion is less than the norm.
As far as the tacos, these were bust up upon the first bite crispy, and they were decent. The only thing that threw us off was the inclusion of the herb cloves in the ground beef. It was a little different and I wasn’t really on board with it. It certainly made Pico’s ground beef stand out as all the other places tasted about the same.
Coming in at number four,
Baja’s Supermarket, 2145 Mead Street, Racine, Wisconsin Facebook page (perhaps) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baja/100504303341970
There is no seating at Baja’s, just a deli counter in back, but you place your order up front. Despite the name, neither the store clerk or the cook appeared to be of Mexican descent.
Talk about a bargain, four $3.49. Baja’s will serve you four fresh-fried hard shell tacos. Although the shells were tasty, these were the least authentic tacos of the group.
Unlike the other places, Baja uses shredded cheddar cheese. Also, the tacos come with sour cream on top. Finally, Baja does not offer a salsa, instead tops the tacos with an Ortega-like taco sauce. The biggest complaint I have with Baja’s is the lack of an appropriate take-out containers. There is no seating, so everything is by default take-out. It is pretty hard to handle a paper plate full of tacos covered with aluminium foil that sticks to the sour cream.
The last three that we tried were all fairly similar, all very good, and all recommended.
Coming in a tie for second place,
Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta, 3700 Durand Ave, Racine, WI (No web page)
and, Santa Fe Liquor & Groceries, 516 High Street, Racine, WI http://www.santafeliquorsgrocery.com/
First, Nuevo Vallarta. Unlike some of the places, this is a restaurant only, not a store. We went at 11am and by noon most of the tables were filled.
Nuevo Vallarta offered four tacos fritos for $5.50. (The only filling offered was ground beef which was the case at most of the places.)
These tacos were super crispy, authentic and fantastic.
Santa Fe, unlike Nuevo Vallarta, is a corner grocery first, taco stand second. There are two tables at Santa Fe, so dining-in is possible. You order and then pay at the cashier up front. We grabbed these tacos before the Packer game and ordered a container of guacamole to take to the Packer party we were going to. The guacamole was fresh made and for a little over $4, a good take-out option.
At Santa Fe, the tacos fritos were not specifically listed on the menu but, upon request, we received four ground beef tacos fritos for $3.89, another bargain.
Santa Fe’s tacos were expertly fried and topped with the perfect amount of lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Santa Fe served them with a green sauce and a red sauce, the red sauce having a strong chipotle flavor. I think I may be the only one that doesn’t love the flavor of chipotle, I went with the green sauce.
and our WINNER is
La Tapatia, 1951 Mead Street, Racine, Wisconsin. Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/La-Tapatia-362542481687/ (La Tapatia posts a lot of delicious food photos on the page so make sure to “Like” the page.)
La Tapatia is a store but it also has several tables inside to dine-in. Like the other store-front taco sellers, you place your order with the cashier.
La Tapatia sells four ground beef hard shell tacos for $4.59. Hard shell tacos are the default ground beef option at La Tapatia. Soft shell tacos are actually 40 cents more than hard shell which seems odd because there is much more prep with the hard shell tacos. For people who prefer flour tortillas, La Tapatia also sells hardshell flour tacos. $4.99 for four.
When we first opened the container of tacos, we initially thought that the shells were Ortega or Old El Paso, because they were so perfectly formed and fried. After tasting the tacos, we knew that these were the real deal, fresh fried. The shells are actually what propelled La Tapatia to the top in this Take-Three challenge. The shells were crisp, but they still had a little “give” to them, which was perfect if you don’t want a major spillage of the toppings each time you bite into the taco. I want to talk to someone at La Tapatia to learn how they go about forming and frying those taco shells Better yet, send us some pics of the process to Jill@wisfoodtalk.com.