The Cod Taco
The Anchor

Extreme and Out-of-the-Ordinary Tacos You Have to Try

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The Cod Taco
The Anchor

Foldable Feasts

The taco premise is simple: Layer inexpensive or decadent proteins, assorted vibrant toppings and "pack a punch" salsa and sauces inside a corn or flour tortilla and, voila, you have the makings for a delectable taco and the perfect fast meal. There's no limit, and as we found out, the extreme reaches of the imagination can create an unexpected tantalizing masterpiece. Regional flourishes, unusual ingredients, and new techniques keep pushing the taco envelope. It doesn't matter where you are in America, or if you are a carnivore or a vegan, a great taco experience is out there for you to discover. See what awaits and what some of the chefs have to say about their creations.


Related: 27 Tasty Taco Places Across the Country

Pig's Head Taco
Peasants Feast

Pig's Head Taco

Peasants Feast

Solvang, California

Standout ingredient: Locally sourced roasted pig's head


Peasants Feast executive chef/owner Michael Cherney and wife Sarah present an unusual feast fit for a family, The pig's head taco is achiote marinated, slow-roasted pig head, hand-pressed corn tortillas, pinquito beans, shredded cabbage, shaved radishes, onion, cilantro, pickled red onions, roasted salsa verde, salsa habanero, and lime served up from their truck, to go, or tableside.


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Taco Coyo - Wynwood Arts District - Miami, Florida
Taco Coyo - Wynwood Arts District - Miami, Florida by Chris Goldberg (CC BY-NC)

Hongos and Huitlacoche Taco

Coyo Taco

Miami

Standout ingredient: Huitlacoche (corn fungus)


The Coyo Taco experience is as artsy as the hip South Beach locations like Wynwood to experience an unusual taco. Huitlacoche is essentially a fungus that grows on corn, yet has a sweet note combined with seasonal mushrooms and queso cotija.


Related: 27 Unusual Canned Foods You Might Actually Want to Eat

Indian Butter Chicken Taco
Masti

Indian Butter Chicken Taco

Masti

Atlanta and Duluth, Georgia

Standout ingredients: Indian lentil pancakes and butter chicken


Robby Gulri of Masti Atlanta said: "In Atlanta, the Butter Chicken Taco or the Uttapam Taco has a light, airy Indian pancake made from lentil and rice batter shell stuffed with grilled chicken tossed in a buttery and creamy tomato curry, topped with rice, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and cheese and served with garlic chili sauce. South Asian meets south of the border with a new twist on a classic street food favorite."

Edley's Catfish Taco
Edley's Bar-B-Que

Edley's Catfish Taco

Edley's Bar-B-Que

Nashville (3 locations) and Chattanooga, Tennessee

Standout ingredients: Catfish and cilantro slaw


Edley's has a field day with Nashville ingredients and flavors. It uses local freshly caught catfish for a twist on the standard fish taco, creating its own mouthwatering Southern taco replete with a tangy slaw.


Related: 55 Foods Worth Traveling For

Tacos Enchapulinados (Grasshoppers)
Lizette C./Yelp

Tacos Enchapulinados (Grasshoppers)

The Black Ant

New York

Standout ingredient: Grasshoppers


Insect cuisine has found its way into the tacos of upscale American restaurants. A soft green poblano infused tortilla is filled with crispy grasshoppers — which have long been a popular delicacy throughout Mexico, particularly in Oaxaca and Pueblo — crusted shrimp and pickled jalapeno, tangy apple slaw, and cheese for a modern twist on proteins.


Related: Beaver Glands, Beetles, and Other Surprising Ingredients in Your Favorite Foods

Lamb Birria Taco
meg r./Yelp

Lamb Birria Taco

Botica

Atlanta

Standout ingredients: Lamb and banana leaves


Slow food technique for tacos? Yes, says chef Mimmo Alboumeh, who uses Colorado lamb legs and smokes them for six hours, braising them the entire time. Then the lamb is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in the oven until done. Alboumeh adds pickled onions, chickpeas, salsa guajillo, and consomme of lamb juices.


Related: 27 Restaurants for Wild Game Across America

Beet Taco
Barleymash

Beet Taco

Barleymash

San Diego

Standout ingredient: Beets


Barleymash's executive chef, Kevin Templeton, created the beet taco and said: "What better way to trick people into eating their veggies than by presenting them in taco form? These beet taco are flavorful and filling, without making you feel as though you've over-indulged."


Related: Hearty Meatless Meals Even Carnivores Will Devour

Korean Bulgogi Taco
Tommy's Tavern + Tap

Korean Bulgogi Taco

Tommy's Tavern + Tap

Staten Island, New York, plus Sea Bright, Freehold, Princeton, and Clifton in New Jersey

Standout ingredients: Sliced Korean BBQ short rib, kimchi, pickled onion, sriracha crema, and kimchi fried rice


Owner Thomas "Tommy" Bonfiglio said: "We wanted to elevate the short rib concept and merge them with unique Korean flavors for our tacos, like kimchi — while staying true to the flavors in many traditional Mexican foods, like cilantro and hot sauce. We chose kimchi fried rice as an unexpected side."


Related: 20 Dishes Every Meat Eater Should Try at Least Once

12-Pound Taco
Cantina Rooftop

12-Pound Taco

Cantina Rooftop

New York

Standout ingredients: 5 pounds of guajillo-marinated chicken


Chef Saul Montiel originally came up with the shareable 12-pound taco for the Cantina Rooftop family meal, but decided to put the enormous taco on the dinner menu when it received such a great reception for everyone's favorite weekday, Taco Tuesday. It's loaded with sour cream, chihuahua and queso fresco, and tomatillo, guajillo, morita, and avocado salsas.

Taco de Lengua (Cow's Tongue)
Tuy Anh P./Yelp

Taco de Lengua (Cow's Tongue)

Taco Taco Cafe

San Antonio

Standout ingredient: Cow's tongue


This taco was good enough for admitted lengua hater Guy Fieri of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" to feature. The tongue taco meat is brined, cubed up, braised, and dressed with traditional jalapeños, onion, fresh garlic, tomato salsa, and avocado. He ate it and he loved it.

José's Taco
Jaleo by José Andrés

José's Taco (Spanish Ham and Caviar)

Jaleo by José Andrés

Las Vegas

Standout ingredients: Iberico ham (Spanish ham) and caviar


When asked which taco he could eat for the rest of his life, chef José Andrés picked his decadent twist on a classic taco that includes a dollop of caviar sandwiched inside a premium shaved slice of jamón Ibérico, which is used as the shell (bonus for low-carb keto people).


Related: 20 Bucket List Restaurants in Las Vegas

Nopal Taco
The Taco Stand

Nopal Taco

The Taco Stand

San Diego

Standout ingredient: Cactus


It's cactus minus the prickly bits. This piquant taco combines marinated cactus (nopales) with melted cheese, cilantro sauce, fresh tomato, and avocado. It's a popular local vegetarian taco with just as much flavor as a classic al pastor.


Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Tacos Poc Chuc
Madelynn F./Yelp

Tacos Poc Chuc

Seis Kitchen

Tucson, Arizona

Standout ingredient: Achiote-marinated chicken


Tacos Poc Chuc takes its cues from traditional, authentic Mexican recipes. This award-winning taco from the Tucson Taco Festival boasts achiote-marinated grilled chicken dressed with cabbage, cilantro, red onion, and house queso.

Jackfruit 'Al Pastor' Taco
La Cantera Resort

Jackfruit 'Al Pastor' Taco

La Cantera Resort

San Antonio

Standout ingredients: Jackfruit, al pastor sauce, charred pineapple, avocado cashew cream, and habanero pickled red onions


Executive chef Robert Carr said: "When you think of Texas you might think of big steaks and BBQ. But one of our secret ingredients is jackfruit, and we can make veggies taste like your favorite animal protein. When cooked it has a texture similar to pork or chicken and adapts well to flavors due to its neutral flavor and the little sweetness. I find braising to be the best way to infuse the flavors."


Related: 17 Underrated Summer Fruits and What to Do With Them

The Cod Taco
The Anchor

The Cod Taco

The Anchor

Venice, California

Standout ingredients: Fresh cod, cabbage dressed with red onion, and avocado crema


This seaside restaurant that specializes in seafood has many famous fans and can boast the best fish taco in Los Angeles, according to online reviews. The secret is in the toppings that adorn the fresh cod.


Related: The Best Seafood Restaurant for Takeout in Every State

Octopus Taco
Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar

Octopus Taco

Fat Rosie's Taco & Tequila Bar

Frankfort, Naperville, Schaumburg, and Lincolnshire, Illinois

Standout ingredient: Grilled octopus


Tender young octopus is roasted and served with roasted peppers, sweet corn relish, chipotle aioli, crispy potatoes, radish, and cilantro for a twist on the fish or seafood taco.

Shrimp Tacodilla
SkinnyFATS

Shrimp Tacodilla

SkinnyFATS

Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Dallas

Standout ingredients: Jumbo tempura shrimp and house-made spicy slaw


It's extreme shrimp taco time as puffy jumbo tempura shrimp is doused in house-made spicy slaw, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, and pepper jack cheese inside a crisp quesadilla shell. Heat and crunch, cheesy additions, and cooling toppings equal shrimp taco perfection.


Related: 11 Top Latin American Restaurants Across America

Winter Season Taco
Pharm Table

Winter Season Taco

Pharm Table

San Antonio

Standout ingredients: Heirloom corn tortilla, black bean chia mash, hoja santa, winter squash escabeche, lion's mane mushroom ceviche, native Llano River garlic onions, and hemp seed crema


Elizabeth Johnson, chef and owner of Pharm Table said: "Pharm Table's food philosophy blends Ayurvedic synergies with the Mesoamerican diet forming the foundation of our taco that is good for us and the environment. This taco highlights local seasonal produce and synergistically nourishing ingredients and spices optimal for the body during the winter season."


Related: Traditional Hispanic Foods Most Americans Don't Know About (But Should)

Tacos El Cabrón
Lena Y./Yelp

Queso Veggie Taco

Tacos El Cabrón

San Diego

Standout ingredients: Portobello mushrooms and cactus


Director Michael Freeby was recently nominated for an MTV Video Music Award, and he shared his go-to taco favorite. "The greatest veggie taco I've ever had is made with black beans, cactus, portobello mushrooms, corn, onions, cilantro, a special sauce, powdered with fresh Oaxaca Mexican cheese all wrapped in a freshly made tortilla layered thickly in mozzarella heaven."

Takumi Taco
Sanchit B./Yelp

Tofu Tinga Taco

Takumi Taco

New York

Standout ingredients: Marinated tofu and tomato-chipotle sauce


This vegetarian taco melds Japanese methods and Mexican ingredients, combining tofu, sesame seeds, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and sauce in a corn tortilla. It's a true East-meets-Mexican experience.

Braised Duck Taco
Joan K./Yelp

Braised Duck Taco

The Strange Taco Bar

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Standout ingredient: Duck


Southern twists abound here, with fried chicken and barbecue taco options, but the ginger-braised duck, dressed with red cabbage and wasabi aioli, is an Asian twist on a taco that earns solid reviews.

Japanese Lentil Taco
Niraj P./Yelp

Japanese Lentil Taco

Takumi Taco

New York

Standout ingredients: Curried lentils, Cotija cheese, and a gyoza shell


From Brooklyn to Chelsea food halls, this New York East-meets-West taqueria excels in vegan and vegetarian taco options. The curried lentils deliver medium heat and are served with the traditional Mexican cheese and crunchy Napa cabbage slaw in a crisp gyoza shell.

Carnitas Taco
China Poblano

Carnitas Taco

China Poblano by José Andrés

Las Vegas

Standout ingredients: Braised pork, onions, chicharron, cilantro, and salsa verde cruda


At China Poblano in Las Vegas, Mexican food and traditional Chinese fare rub shoulders in a complementary way. The cultures' shared love of juicy pork and heat with the meat make this a logical twist on a traditional carnitas taco.

Avocado Cantina
Theresa H./Yelp

Palmitas Tacos

Avocado Cantina

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Standout ingredients: Seared hearts of palm, house-made salsa macha, and house-made mole verde


Chef Julien Gremaud, chef/owner of Avocado Cantina, said: "In South Florida, we have many health-conscious residents and visitors. We wanted to offer creative taco options for vegan and vegetarian diners that give bold favors and a wow factor."

Avocado Cantina
Theresa H./Yelp

Falafel Taco

Avocado Cantina

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Standout ingredients: Chickpeas and tahini


Chef Julien Gremaud said: "One of our specialties is the falafel taco and we want to create great options for everyone. The response has been incredible and this particular one is one of our most popular taco selections since opening in November."