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The Most Popular Types Of Tacos

Sep 13th, 2023

Tacos are the ultimate food. Put whatever you want in them, serve them at any temperature and eat as many as you want — what more is there to love?

Living in Austin means you have some of the best tacos in the country right at your fingertips, so if you’re serious about your tacos then there are some types of tacos that you just have to try. 

Here are some of the more popular kinds of tacos out there and, of course, what makes each so special!

14 kinds of taco styles you need to know

Tacos al pastor (shepherd style)

Tacos al pastor — also called tacos de adobada — are tacos made with marinated pork that is cooked on a vertical spit over an open fire. The meat is typically seasoned with adobo, orange juice, vinegar, chili peppers and spices and are served with onions, cilantro, and salsa verde or salsa roja.

Tacos de asador (spit or grill tacos)

Tacos de asador can refer to a number of things, since it’s really describing the type of meats used to fill it — grilled meats, specifically. 

Tacos de carne asada fit into this category, as do the grilled tripe tacos! Basically, if you like your taco meat grilled and nicely charred, this is the taco type for you.

Tacos de barbacoa 

This Caribbean-inspired taco is made with lamb or goat that has been wrapped in agave leaves and slowly cooked over an open flame. There are plenty of variations in this particular type of taco, but all of them involve a long, slow cooking process that brings out all the best juices in a meat. 

Tacos de birria

Birria is a popular goat stew that is often served at special occasions in Mexico, particularly in Jalisco. To make tacos de birria, small corn tortillas are dipped in the birria broth and fried until crispy, then the birria meat is added to the taco and the whole plate is accompanied by a dipping sauce also made, unsurprisingly, from the stew.

Tacos de cabeza (head tacos)

Like the name suggests, these types of tacos are quite literally made from heads. Cow heads, actually.

Cooking a cow’s head is a delicate matter, so great care is taken when steaming, grilling or braising the meat. If you’re getting tacos de cabeza from someone who knows what they’re doing, then you might even be asked what part of the head you want your meat from! 

Tacos de camarones (shrimp tacos)

It’s a taco. With shrimp. It’s a shrimp taco.

What else did you expect?

Tacos de carne asada

Originating from the cattle-raising capital of the continent in Sonora, Mexico, carne asada meat features thin strips of short loin cooked to perfection over a charcoal fire. It’s pretty amazing on its own, but it's even better in a flour tortilla taco. 

Tacos de carnitas

Though similar to pulled pork, the meat used in tacos de carnitas is made with pork shoulder slowly cooked in fat and seasoned with spices and herbs. It’s often served with shredded red cabbage and cilantro, making for a colorful platter of food!

Tacos de cazo (literally “bucket tacos”)

Named for the method of cooking rather than the ingredients in the dish, tacos de cazo are tacos whose meats are deep fried in a large bucket of hot lard. The meat could be fish, pork, beef or bird esophagus — it just has to be cooked in a bucket!

Tacos de chorizo

Chorizo is a Spanish food made with cured and smoked meats, but it also makes for a stunning taco! Because the flavor of chorizo is already so powerful, tacos de chorizo are typically very simple in construction and feature just a few extra ingredients like potato, onion and cilantro.

Tacos de lengua (beef tongue tacos)

In this dish, fresh beef tongues are slowly cooked with onions, herbs, garlic and bay leaves to create ultra-tender meat. It’s one of the more authentic dishes out there, so if your local taco joint doesn’t serve tacos de lengua, then keep looking!

Tacos de pescado (fish tacos)

These light, refreshing tacos originated from Baja California and other Pacific coastal regions where white fish filets are easy to come by and are about as fresh as they can get.  

Tacos dorados (fried tacos, golden tacos, flautas or taquitos)

These crispy, crunchy tacos are made with a variety of fillings and served with a variety of sauces, but all of them are filled with pre-cooked meats, rolled like a flute and deep fried until crisp. 

Tacos sudados (“sweaty tacos”)

What do you get when you stuff a bunch of soft flour tacos into a sauna? You get sweaty tacos! 

Tacos sudados are filled with spicy meat and kept in a basket covered with a cloth in order to keep them warm and moist, though it also creates condensation and makes them sweat! 

So, whether your go-to taco is a good old taco de pescado, a lovingly prepared taco de birria or the masterful taco de lengua, hopefully you get a chance to try all of these at some point and get to enjoy them all for yourself! And there’s a good chance that there are some outstanding taquerias near our Austin apartments!


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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/Yezmin

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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