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Tacos are the Mexican equivalent of a sandwich. Instead of bread, a hard or soft tortilla is wrapped or folded around a spicy filling. But, also, in essence, these little folded pockets of goodness are so much more than just a sandwich!

And this is the day to find out why. Because it’s National Taco Day!

History of National Taco Day

It is not known exactly when this tasty food originated, but tacos themselves seem to have been around for a long time. They were first referenced by their current name at the end of the 19th century, but the conquistador Cortez mentioned a meal prepared with tortillas as far back as 1520!

Back in those days, this would have been referring to a type of soft wheat or corn tortillas. Hard taco shells are a much more recent innovation. Of course, as Americans got their hands on this delicious food, it has evolved, morphed, and grown into something that is less of a food and more of an institution! And that’s why National Taco Day was created. To celebrate the grand institution of the taco.

While some people may find themselves celebrating this tasty Mexican dish every week on Taco Tuesday, this is a special National Taco Day that only comes around once a year. So get ready to celebrate and enjoy the beauty and flavor of the taco!

How to Celebrate National Taco Day

Enjoying National Taco Day is super easy with all kinds of options that involve making, eating and celebrating everything that has to do with the taco! Try these ideas out for inspiration:

Go Out to a Mexican Restaurant

And this isn’t referring to Taco Bell. On this day, it is important to find the most authentic, genuinely Mexican establishment possible. Preferably this will be a locally owned and operated restaurant, hopefully with a cook who truly has some Mexican roots!

The tacos at a truly authentic Mexican restaurant will be different from what might be found at an Americanized joint. These genuine tacos will be made with soft corn tortillas (not deep-fried or baked) that are filled with meat. 

The meat options will typically be “pollo”, which is chicken, “pastor” which is pork, or “barbacoa” which is usually made with beef. No ground beef here! The meat will have been slow-cooked to perfection in spices that bring the flavor all throughout. 

On top of the meat will be a selection of toppings, such as onions, cilantro, pico de gallo, or even sliced radishes or cucumbers. And they absolutely must be served with lime to be freshly squeezed over them just before eating. Delicious! 

Throw a Taco Party with Friends

Taco day is often celebrated by having taco parties for friends. Of course, the main activity and one of these parties AND the food would all be the same thing: Tacos! Making them and eating them is all part of the fun.

There are many possible combinations when it comes to making tacos–whether at home alone or at a party. Start with a base filling of beef, chicken, fish, seafood, beans, or vegetables, and then mix and match preferred toppings.

For additional flavors, try a favorite combination of sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, chopped tomato, onion, salsa, pico de gallo and cheese for a tasty treat that’s great for sharing.

Try a Unique Take on Tacos

While most people have a basic idea of what a taco would normally be like, the sky’s the limit when it comes to getting creative with this form of cuisine! As long as it comes in a little pocket, almost anything can become a taco. Try out these unique taco recipes to insert a bit more pizazz into National Taco Day:

  • Hawaiian Huli Huli Chicken Tacos. Taking it from south of the border to over in the pacific, this fusion taco recipe is amazing. Huli Huli is a kind of chicken that is grilled over mesquite barbeque and basted with pineapple juice, soy sauce and fresh ginger. Add a salsa made from pineapple, mango and avocado, and this taco is absolutely to die for.
  • Shrimp Tacos with Mango Habanero Salsa. The heat of the habanero pepper combines with the fruity sweetness of the mango to create a balance that will bring tears to the eyes. Plus, simmering red onions in a bit of vinegar creates a pickled flavor that brings everything together.
  • Chicken Cabbage Potato Tacos with Apple Pico de Gallo. Another rather unique one, this one pulls in those random ingredients left in the kitchen and makes them into something absolutely wonderful.
  • Irish Guiness Tacos. Where would the Irish be without their beer? The pork in this taco is braised with Guiness, bringing out the deep flavors. Add a bit of lime zest and some crema, and this Irish/Mexican fusion is ready to go.

Finish Things Off with Dessert Tacos

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little sweetness to the end of a meal. People have used all kinds of different ingredients to morph this dish into something dessert-worthy.

Consider these delicious ideas for dessert tacos:

  • Apple Pie Tacos. Take an all-American dessert like Apple Pie and put it in a Mexican taco? Yes, please! Regular flour tortillas are deep fried into a taco shape and then dipped in a cinnamon sugar concoction. Fill them with apple pie filling and top with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
  • Brown Butter Crepe Choco Tacos. Turn those crepes (made with browned butter) into taco shells by draping them over a taco rack. Allow to cool and fill them with all kinds of deliciousness, such as chocolate ice cream and nutella.
  • Sugar Cookie Fruit Tacos. Folded just slightly, large sugar cookies make the perfect “shell” for a dessert taco. Add chopped fruit, such as strawberries and kiwi, and top with sweetened whipped cream. This is a delightful summer treat!
  • Waffle Cone Choco Tacos. Make mini waffles into taco shapes instead of cones. Fill with homemade ice cream or frozen custard, and dip into chocolate. Freeze for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Find National Taco Day Discounts and Deals

Depending on the location, some Mexican themed restaurants may be putting out some special deals in honor of National Taco Day. Although they can change every year, here are some places that have offered deals for past National Taco Days:

  • Taco John’s. This American chain with more than 400 restaurants in 23 states, has been known to give away one free beef taco (crispy or soft shell) to those who have a coupon–which has been sent out on Twitter in previous years.
  • Del Taco. WIth more than 600 locations in the southern and western United States, this chain has been known to offer BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) on various taco platters in celebration of the day.
  • On the Border. Sick of fast food? This chain offers sit-down service but still has been known to sponsor 50 cent tacos for National Taco Day.

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