Tops of the Town
Our readers’ picks of the area’s best
(page 7 of 11)
Taquerias have bloomed across the New Orleans area since Hurricane Katrina, an edible upshot of the demographic influx of Latin Americans to the community. Their offerings are authentic, including tacos that can be quite different from the Tex-Mex cantina fare that had previously so dominated the market here.
Fortunately for many local diners, advanced courses on the subject of authentic, casual Mexican cooking have long been available in New Orleans thanks to Taqueria Corona. This small local chain has been showing locals what taquerias are all about for more than 20 years, starting with the idea that a taco doesn’t necessarily have to be made using a crunchy corn shell filled with ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheddar.
Just such a taco is available, and popular, at Taqueria Corona. The menu lists it as the American taco, and it’s evidence of why Taqueria Corona has remained so popular. This is a casual, inexpensive place that will please culinary purists without alienating guests whose ideas of a good Mexican meal were formed more by Taco Bell than taco trucks.
In addition to the hard-shell American taco, you can order up a sampling of tacos from the tender, barbecue-like beef tongue to spicy, brick-red chorizo sausage to charbroiled pork, all made on soft flour or corn tortillas with pico de gallo. One of the most popular tacos here is a little different; but this puffy, crunchy fried fish taco topped with red cabbage and a spicy tartar sauce is still every bit as convincing as the fish tacos served from beach shacks on the Pacific coast.
All of this was revolutionary for the New Orleans palate when El Salvador native Roberto Méndez opened his first Taqueria Corona on Magazine Street in 1988. At the beginning, he was the sole employee, cooking his tacos in an open kitchen and serving them to curious patrons seated along a small, 10-seat bar and at just two tables. This flagship restaurant soon expanded, and Méndez later opened more taquerias in the area. There are many more options now for authentic Mexican food today, but locals still flock to the place where they first learned to love it.