Tacos are a delight. They are the epitome of great street food but can also be elevated to culinary heights. You can eat them standing up or sitting down. They are at once simple and complex. The combination of a warmed tortilla filled with a protein that’s been fried, stewed, roasted, braised, or grilled and a little salsa is nearly impossible to beat. Those ingredients are often so good together that little garnish is ever needed. Sometimes a little bit of cilantro adds a nice flourish here and there. Sometimes some crunchy cabbage adds an extra layer of delightful texture. But most of the time all you need is that tortilla with some awesomely cooked meat inside and a little dollop of salsa.
So, we have to ask, which is the best taco filling? We already know it’s not the ground beef of our many days spent in lunchroom cafeterias (even though none of us could ever wait for Taco Tuesday to arrive). A great taco filling is a nuanced balance of protein, spice, fat, and cooking acumen. It can be low and slow. It can fast and flame-filled. Either way, it needs to be flavorful.
Let’s dive in!
10. Tinga (Shredded Chicken)
Pulled or shredded stewed chicken is great. But it almost always needs to be thighs and legs. The dark meat has that extra layer of fat that really makes this one pop when you add a little bit of crumbly cheese. Still, ordering the chicken always feels like the safe option and tacos are supposed to be wild and fun.