In search of tacos, part 5: Orale Taqueria (and a bit about Best Coast Taqueria)
Please note that since writing this blog post, Orale Taqueria has closed down
It wasn’t until fairly recently that I learnt there’s an actual word for a place that sells tacos. You know: just like the bakery sells bread and the butcher sells meat, the taqueria sells tacos. How cool is that? And suddenly these taquerias (or whatever the plural is) seem to be springing up like snow drops in February.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I’ve also been in search of a decent taco for a while. Well, even if you didn’t, you’ve probably figured it out from the title: “part 5?” I hear you ask, wondering how this simple task could be so darn hard. So, to give you a quick recap, I’ve tried tacos from the Burrito Maker (his name is semi-misleading; he doesn’t only make burritos); long-time Mexican restaurant Caramba on the Lindengracht; the Original California Burrito Company (same issue with the name); and most recently, Salsa Shop (one of my 2014 Amsterdam Restaurants of the Month). But just as I was starting to feel like I’d run out of potential taco purveyors, a new breed of pop-ups started, well, popping up: the moveable taqueria feast!*
A couple of weekends ago, I signed up for a “Tequila y Tacos” event at Hiding in Plain Sight (my favourite cocktail bar in Amsterdam) without really having any idea who would be making my tacos. Turned out it was Orale Taqueria, who wooed me within the first five minutes by bringing over their ceviche tostadas. I could have happily skipped the tacos and spent the rest of the afternoon crunching away on raw, citrusy, chilli-hot shrimps with avocado.
But I’m glad I didn’t, because the tacos were awesome too. All made with soft corn tortillas (which seem to be the only kind of tortillas that any self-respecting taqueria serves now – gone are the days of the humble, so 2012, flour tortilla), the three we tried were distinctly different and a far cry from the stodgy carb-fests that used to be the only Mexican we could get in Amsterdam. One was made with lamb and a bright green (from all the herbs) salsa verde; the second was a chicken mole whose flavour was so rich I could’ve sworn it was beef. The last was most surprising of all: crispy cauliflower with a smoky dressing that made it taste just about as meaty as the other two.
We tried the jalapeno poppers too – I’d had them before in the US and found them kind of greasy and unsatisfying. In contrast, these were bright in flavour, barely battered and speedily fried for minimum oiliness, and punctuated with a light-but-gooey cheese filling that would have been spectacular had I not burnt my lips trying to shovel them in so fast.
Ok, I’ll admit it: I’ve found the perfect taco. But this search has been way too much fun to stop now; what are your favourite taquerias? Let me know where I should get my next taco fix in the comments below!
*The first taqueria I came across was Best Coast Taqueria at the Kimchi Festival. The nice man who runs it told me they supply their salsas to the Salsa Shop – which makes sense because I couldn’t get enough of the latter’s peach habanero. But as I’ve only managed to taste one of Best Coast’s tacos (and at a festival, not a regular venue) I feel like I don’t yet have enough experience to write about them properly. From what I’ve tasted, though, they’re doing a great job! They pop up at BarBra, the Albert Cuypmarkt and various other locations – check out Best Coast Taqueria’s Facebook page for the latest!