You've heard it from your California-born friends for years now: When it comes to traditional tacos, Boston isn't exactly an embarrassment of riches. But we've rounded up an eclectic mix of must-try tacos, from classics and reliable standbys to a few newer entries with exciting twists.
Taco box at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
What do you fancy: Baja fried fish? Root beer–braised chicken? Grilled avocado? Get 'em all. This buzzing Southie spot offers a host of funked-up tacos that are perfect for group to-go orders. The "taco box," ordered online for pick up, is a customizable concept that lets you choose your taco styles and sides — from grilled street corn to steak skewers. If you're feeding a lunch meeting or house party, it's a winner for taste and convenience.
412 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-917-5626
Courtesy of El Potro Mexican Bar & Grill
Fish tacos at El Potro Mexican Bar & Grill
This cheery, family-owned Mexican outfit has three locations in Somerville, Malden and Lowell, and the colorful dining rooms are further brightened by live music nights featuring a local mariachi band. Most importantly, though, the tacos are top-notch. We're partial to the fish tacos topped with shredded cabbage, cilantro and cheese.
61 Union Sq., Somerville; 617-666-4200 and additional locations
Chicken tinga tacos at Chilacates
In case you weren't already addicted to the tacos turned out at the pint-size original location on a quiet residential corner near Jamaica Plain's Stony Brook T stop, Chilacates opened a second, larger location in February on the main commercial drag of Centre Street. Even if you're not from the neighborhood, it's worth sauntering over for this still-relatively under-the-radar joint, where the spicy chicken tinga tacos, in particular, are absolutely awesome.
Courtesy of Burro Bar
Buffalo tofu taco at Burro Bar
Opened in January, Burro is a smaller, pared-down sibling to Somerville's The Painted Burro. But the dishes still pack all the same punch. Exhibit A: These tongue-tingling tofu tacos doused in a tamarind-Buffalo sauce glaze with blue cheese and a Brussels sprouts slaw. It raises the bar among vegetarian-friendly offerings around town.
1665 Beacon St., Brookline; 617-277-0427
Tacos de chapulines at Tu Y Yo
Another old-school favorite, Tu Y Yo has earned devotees from Somerville and beyond over the years; the low-key joint offers some of the best Mexican in the Boston area. Among the more legendary options are the grasshopper tacos (don't make that face!), a half-dozen small deep-fried tacos stuffed with critters and chiles. This place is the real deal for a reason. Maybe you balk now, but you'll thank us later.
858 Broadway, Somerville; 617-623-5411
Courtesy of Poe's Taco Room at Lower Depths
Jalisco taco at Poe's Taco Room at Lower Depths
We hissed when chef Brian Poe's Rattlesnake Bar & Grill closed in Back Bay in November. But April brought good news: Poe had teamed up with the folks at Kenmore Square's Lower Depths to launch Poe's Taco Room, offering two-per-order taco baskets for ten bucks, all devised by the talented toque. Among the offerings are some favorite carry-overs from the Rattlesnake days, so you can still score the jalisco tacos of red chile–rubbed and smoked pork with lemon cabbage and chimichurri crema.
476 Commonwealth Ave.; 617-266-6662
Adobado tacos at Taqueria Jalisco
Geographically speaking, East Boston can sometimes feel rather segmented from the rest of the city — but it has a great number of lower-priced, family-owned joints doing excellent and authentic-feeling takes on various cuisines, including Mexican. Among our favorites is the intimate, super-friendly Taqueria Jalisco, home to an array of great tacos — including the standout adobado tacos of pork in a kicky red chile and vinegar sauce.
291 Bennington St.; 617-567-6367
Courtesy of Lone Star Taco Bar
Breakfast tacos at Lone Star Taco Bar
Fact: It's always time for tacos. Also a fact: Breakfast tacos are the bomb, and we're grateful this hipster-garnering Allston joint (and its Cambridge counterpart) actually serves its iteration until 4 PM. Because scrambled eggs, cheese, avocado crema, roasted salsa and chorizo make for a great hangover cure, and depending on how much tequila you took on the night before, the extra sleep might help too.
Carne asada tacos at El Pelon
Thanks to super-low prices, this pair of taquerias is pretty popular with college students — of course, it doesn't hurt that one of them is parked right outside the Boston College campus. But even those with advanced degrees in taco-gobbling will want to get to the long-standing fast-casual. Why? They're the bomb, especially some simple steak tacos topped with pickled cabbage and fire-roasted salsa.
Shrimp a la diabla tacos at Casa Verde
This JP taqueria from the team behind Tres Gatos and Centre Street Cafe dabbles among different regions for its splay of snacks, chips, tacos, tortas and larger dishes — like chicken mole and carne asada. The tacos are a treasure too, especially the shrimp a la diabla: Guajillo chilie marinated shrimp with cabbage curtido, crema and salsa verde.
711 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 617-477-9977
Baja original tacos at Dorado
This Brookline spot serves amazing Baja California–style fish tacos, including plenty of creative monthly specials. But we remain loyal to its eponymous dish, beer-battered Atlantic whitefish with cabbage, spicy chipotle crema, radishes and salsa fresca. And take note: If you find yourself hungry and homesick the next time you're in NYC, take heart. Dorado has a second location in Greenwich Village.
401 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-566-2100