Crispy Fried Tacos – Racine has Cornered the Market

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 exterior

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.

Pico's interior

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.

Pico's Fluffy Tacos Menu

.We ordered the Fluffy Tacos with ground beef with rice and beans for $7.50.

Pico's Fluffy Tacos

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 

Bajas Supermarket exterior

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.

Bajas Menu

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.

Bajas tacos

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)Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta sign

and, Santa Fe Liquor & Groceries, 516 High Street, Racine, WI http://www.santafeliquorsgrocery.com/ 

santa fe sign

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.

TNV Interior

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.)

TNV menu

These tacos were super crispy, authentic and fantastic.

TNV Tacos Fritos

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.

Santa Fe interior

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 Menu

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.

Santa Fe Tacos

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 Exterior

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 menu

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.

La Tapatia tacos

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.

19 thoughts on “Crispy Fried Tacos – Racine has Cornered the Market

  1. La Tapatia is BY FAR my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE place to get tacos. In my opinion nothing else even comes close. I just wish they had another location that was closer to my house. It makes me sad that I get there so rarely.

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  2. I’ve lived in Racine my whole life and I don’t understand why Mi Jacalito on Douglas av didn’t even earn an honorable mention. I definitely think they would have been toward the top of the list. Authentic crispy plate of ground beef tacos for around $4. And the salsa is fresh homemade and delicious. Absolutely recommend for out of owners.

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  3. Taqueria Arandas is on Prospect and they have amazing authentic Spanish style tacos. They also have two food trucks… You can order your choice of meat but with onion and cilantro… MY FAV!

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  4. Mexico Lindo has the best mexican food,but the are stingy with the ingredients and you can not get extra cheese on the side. plus i think you are overcharged for the amount of food u get.

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  5. I always get Santa Fe! You can’t beat the price, and if you need more to round out your meal the Guac and chips(authentic home made) are a steal compared to just about every other place.

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  6. La Tap must have seen you coming. I’ve had the tacos 3 separate times and they’ve always been grease soaked. Blah. Never again. Mi Jacalito and Nuevo Vallarta are much better.

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