If you love tacos (of course you do), perhaps you’ve pondered taco history from time to time.
Where did these delicious marvels come from? What genius invented them, and how did they find their way to the United States and evolve in style and flavor?
Today we get into their origin story which is a little more complex than you might think. Of course, if our little taco history lesson makes you hungry, come see us at El Chubby’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Aurora and give your taste buds a treat.
At our fesh Mexican grill, tacos come in all of your favorite flavors – beef, bean, combo, chicken, steak and shrimp. Need something to accompany your taco feast? Try our carne asada fries with tender strips of steak grilled with jalapeño, onions, and tomatoes, served over crisp french fries and smothered with green chili and cheese.
Okay, ok. Before we digress too much, let’s get to the meat of today’s blog post.
Uncovering the Truth of Taco History
No one knows exactly where tacos originated but the general consensus is that the taco started in the Mexican silver mines during the 18th century.
One reason that people believe this tale is that the word taco refers to the charges miners used to excavate the ore. More specifically, the term “taco” referred to the pieces of paper wrapped around gunpowder and inserted into the holes miners made in the rocks.
In fact, one of the first types of tacos ever described was evidently called taco de minero which translates to miner’s tacos. While plausible, the miners weren’t the only ones to claim dibs.
People indigenous to the coastal areas of Mexico assert that fish tacos have actually been eaten and enjoyed there for thousands of years. Who should you believe? Well, that’s up to you.
Bringing the Taco to the Masses
When looking into taco history, one word you might come across frequently is taquería, which is a taco stand. Of course, it’s since evolved into an all-encompassing term to describe any restaurant specializing in serving tacos.
These stands originated on the street corners of Mexico City, where vendors introduced tasty and portable tacos to working-class neighborhoods. With industrialization came many migrants from all over the country, and these people needed quick, affordable meals to go!
As taquerías and tacos spread from city to city, their contents changed to reflect the culture and available resources of each geographical region.
By the 1920s, taco trucks were found throughout the West and Southwest of the United States. There were two kinds of taco trucks, ones that traveled around neighborhoods and businesses, and trucks that were parked.
Officially crossing the border is attributed to a group of women called the Chili Queens who used pushcarts to bring Mexican food to Los Angeles. Over in San Antonio, the group set up as street vendors who started selling food during festivals and then expanded to meet taco demand.
A Very American Evolution in Taco History
Today, there are all types of tacos, each with their own merits and some with a very American spin to them.
For example, traditional tacos use fresh, soft corn tortillas.
However, here in the United States, you can’t deny the popularity of tacos using a crunchy corn shell. This delicious taco meat delivery device was actually invented for and first created by the Taco Bell chain of restaurants as a way to make their operations more efficient.
From this creation, we get the spin-off of Mexican-American tacos that use crispy shells and ground hamburger meat, along with cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, and tomatoes.
Over the years hard and soft-shelled tacos grew in popularity and tacos expanded into meals throughout the day, including breakfast tacos stuffed with eggs, potato and chorizo.
And if you’re not a purist, you’ve likely experienced a fusion taco. After all, everything just tastes better in a taco format.
One very delicious mix is using marinated Korean meats (like Bulgogi) in tacos. We’ve also seen tacos made with fried chicken, Texas BBQ and even the ingredients in a Vietnamese Banh Mi.
Of course, Mexican regional delights like tacos al pastor and tacos de barbacoa have become popular in the United States as people dig into taco history for authentic taco flavors.
Are You Hungry for a Taco Yet?
We understand. Even writing about tacos makes us hungry! So if you have a hankering, come get all the tacos you want – beef, bean, combo, chicken, steak, and shrimp. Here at El Chubby’s, everything is grilled to order, so you can even have your taco prepared exactly the way you like.
And if you’re looking for more, we have plenty of options – all of your favorites, really.
From taco salads to taquitos (rolled and fried tacos), as well as sopapillas, tostadas, enchiladas, chimichangas and more, whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll likely find it on our menu.
At El Chubby’s Fresh Mexican Grill in Aurora, we offer you a delicious array of quality Mexican food favorites inspired by taco history. So, come experience the El Chubby’s difference today and be sure to bring a big taco-tite. We look forward to making you one of our regulars!