Thursday, May 5, 2016

Racine Wisconsin Taco Tour

- Chowing on Wisconsin

In celebration of today's faux American holiday lets eat some tacos! Today's post is actually an extension of a previous one so if it seems familiar it is but there's new spots added in. We're off to Racine Wisconsin aka Taco Doradoland aka The Golden Taco Capitol aka Fried Taco Town, USA. I'm not sure exactly why but for whatever reason you can find crispy fried tacos all over town. Today we take a stroll and try many of them. Please let me know in the comments any I might've missed.
La Tapatia 

Fellow local eats explorer Peter Engler aka Rene G on LTHforum had written this place up as a worthy stop for a cheap lunch. Locals love their freshly prepared crispy tacos. They're made in a semi-open air kitchen by quickly frying each side of the tortilla. Nice call. I've enjoyed these this past while passing thru to Milwaukee. I go with ground beef as that's what works best with this style of taco. La Tapatia are the best fried tacos I've had where the meat doesn't go in until after shell is fried.

Crispy Taco Plate ($4.59)

I did a little google search and found a place in town called Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta that was calling my name. I'd read their menu online and they offer fried tacos. As I took a peak at the menu someone posted on Yelp I spied "Tacos Fritos" which in turn immediately shot it up my radar.

Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta

You can't order tacos dorados to go unless you plan on eating them as soon as you step outside so I chose to dine in and was given a couple really well balanced made in-house tomato salsas (mild and hot) which were the old school American-Mexican type I adore. Six minutes later my tacos fritos were ready. They come four to a plate ($5.25) and while I'm sure you could ask for a different filling they only list ground beef as the option. I knew I wanted these when I read the description "Filled with Ground Beef and Deep Fried" Keyword being 'and'. While spots like La Tapatia prove you can make good crispy's that get filled after the tortilla is turned golden, I much prefer the spots frying the shells with the meat inside. As always these were wonderful, to me anyway. On top of these they have a menu section dedicated to "Crunch" so next time I plan on trying the Fried Flour Tortilla Taco.

Tacos Fritos at Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta in Racine

The tacos dorados plate seems to be popular all over. On top of the two spots posted up above I've found them on the menu at a couple other spots which means there's a good chance there's more. This spot escaped me until a recent trek to Milwaukee took me thru Racine for something to eat. Not all that different from La Tapatia up above as far as the setup goes. It's a grocery store with a tiny open air kitchen in the back corner and a single table in front of it.

Santa Fe Liquors & Groceries

Most people are taking tacos and or cigarettes and booze to-go. The taco plates come four to an order and are what everyone is ordering. Not a bad lunch for under five bucks. These little guys are deep fried with the meat inside and toothpicks holding the shell in place. The ground beef mixture was a bit bland but other than that they make a respectable rendition of my ultimate guilty pleasure.

Plate of Ground Beef Tacos

Then there's also this joint below which I'd been into before but didn't see tacos dorados or crispy tacos etc on the menu so I passed, which was a mistake. This trip in I could tell this is a place that would be in Little Village or on the East Side of the city if it was in Chicago.

Taqueria Gran Morelos

Three older ladies were behind the counter and each of them was tending to something, be it the huge pot of fresh frijoles charros being made or chopping down some cilantro, they were all at work. The plates of the soft shell tacos eaten by the locals looked and smelled wonderful but I was there to see if they did the fried taco plates like the others. As it turns out the ground beef option is served standard as tacos dorados. These are also fried whole and include both shredded chihuahua cheese as well as crop dusts of Parmesan. Maybe the crispiest tacos I've ate to date. Racine may be the death of me.

Tacos Dorados

I had had a hunch after trying all those spots above that there were more. Hunch confirmed. Here are a few more consumed from there. Many of them found through through the comments to this little tidbit from a useful Southeast Wisconsin Food talk site. Next up might be the new #1.

Mi Jacalito

This place feels like it belong somewhere in old Austin or something. Big menu with lots of interesting stuff. Quite a few people dining in on my visits and many had big bowls of Menudo. Orders of crispy tacos come by the four and cost a whooping $4. These were very well fried with nicely spiced beef and lots of mexican crumbling cheese which I think works best with these. As good of an example of the Racine style Crispy Fried Taco Plate as I've found.

Crispy Taco Plate

Next stop is a place that I know was mentioned on LTHforum before. I was always intrigued to try Mexico lindo but when it's a stones throw from Wells Brothers it's hard to make room for both.

Mexico Lindo

I don't know what year this restaurant goes back to but it's got to be the 70's or early 80's as it feels like a time warp inside. We got a crispy taco plate with avocado added on. I like the folding job, looks like they hold it shut with tongs and fry them for a little bit before toppings go on. But they needed to be fried a little harder as they were slightly greasy and under-fried thus not much crunch was involved.

Crispy Tacos with Avocado added on

I wish we had these spots that double as liquor stores and taco shops. They seem to be a thing in Racine. I wish we had a few in Chicago although we still wouldn't have the option for Spotted Cow and Crispy Taco Plates but just the latter is still better than neither nor.

Taqueria La Mexicana

This place sells single bottles so you can enjoy a beer with your tacos if you want to eat them inside of there. These were a fine example as the meat is fried inside the shell though not quite as good as some of the others like Tapatia and Gran Morelos.

Crispy Taco Plate

Unfortunately you're always going to have duds and that's what we got when we checked out a spot that got some love in those aforementioned comments.

Taqueria Arandas 

This place had the looks and the feels of a spot that would serve a classic crispy taco plate it wasn't meant to be. Just a separately fried shell stuffed with beef. The textures just aren't the same and in the case of the crispy fried taco more meat isn't better as it just throws off the balance.

Crispy Taco

I became immediately intrigued when I had seen a comment on Wisconsin Food Talk about the local long time Chinese restaurant having excellent crispy tacos. You know crispy tacos are a big deal in these parts when the Chinese takeout spot is serving them up. We had to try them.

Whey Chai

Another old school spot where it doesn't feel like much has changed. They have an entire Mexican portion to the menu and you know Crispy Tacos are listed first. I ordered a plate and waited. When the lady yelled over to me that my tacos were ready everyone at a table on the other side veered their head toward me looking mystified that someone was ordering tacos at a Chinese place. In the end these were the least liked of this bunch as the shells were fried without the meat inside. Though they did have a slightly egg rolly taste probably due to the oil so it was at least interesting though probably not worth ordering again. See ya'll next time.

"American" Taco Plate 

La Tapatia
1951 Mead St
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 633-7816

Taqueria Nuevo Vallarta
3700 Durand Ave
Racine, WI 53405
(262) 898-9600

Santa Fe Liquors & Groceries
516 High St
Racine, WI 53402
(262) 632-1331

Taqueria Gran Morelos
1141 N Memorial Dr
Racine, WI 53404

Mi Jacalito
1318 Douglas Ave
Racine, WI 53402
(262) 633-8633

Mexico Lindo
2217 Racine St
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 632-8161

Taqueria La Mexicana
1336 State St
Racine, WI 53404
(262) 633-4245

Taqueria Arandas
1501 Prospect St
Racine, WI 53404
(262) 635-0095

Whey Chai
400 Main St
Racine, WI 53403
(262) 633-8000


Anonymous said...

I live vicariously thru you. Seriously, great write up. Racine great old town. Love your blog. Your gut is cast iron and powerful.

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