Behold! Today, October 4, is National Taco Day — not that we needed an excuse to gorge on overstuffed taco awesomeness. Still, we'll take it. Whether you're looking to honor this faux food holiday or you're just on the hunt for marvelous Mexican eats to try in the weeks ahead, here's a look at some particularly tasty new tacos on menus around Boston.
Taco Gigante at Margaritas
We don't often feature chain restaurants, but we couldn't resist mentioning this month-long special from the New England Mexican brand. The Gigante, pictured above, lives up to its name: It's a 12-inch hard-shell taco filled with 2 lbs. of fixin's, from seasoned chicken to Mexican rice to refried beans to pickled jalapeños. Bigger isn't necessarily better, but it's also helping a worthy cause: $2 of each $12.99 taco sold will benefit Team IMPACT, a Quincy-based nonprofit that matches children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, fostering camaraderie and inspiration.
Courtesy of Tiffany Lopinsky/Lolita
Crispy cauliflower taco at Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar
This summer, Back Bay's spicy singles joint Lolita revamped its entire menu for the first time in its six-year history. The offerings are now dominated by snacks, street food and an excellent array of tacos. Among the new favorites are crispy cauliflower tacos, topped with a green chile–pimento cheese, spicy chamoy sauce and a cabbage escabèche.
271 Dartmouth St.; 617-369-5609
Courtesy of River Bar
Carnitas and pork rind taco at River Bar
At his Assembly Row restaurant, chef Patrick Gilmartin peppers street food with Asian accents — hence items like crab-and-garlic noodles. But he looks south, not east, for this new lunch menu offering: pork cutlet tacos topped with spicy cucumbers and lime crema. Bonus: River Bar's huge, three-seasons patio (with a fire pit!) is a fine place to while away an October afternoon.
661 Assembly Row, Somerville; 617-616-5561
Fried pork taco at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar
If you're looking to ring in National Taco Day, you'd be crazy to not consider Loco. After all, the perpetually buzzing South Boston joint boasts more than 40 varieties of tequila and mezcal, meaning your margarita and other cocktail options runneth over. The real stars, though, are the tacos — including the brand-new fried pork with habanero chimichurri, pico de gallo and queso fresco.
412 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-917-5626
Crispy avocado taco at The Painted Burro
Tonight, The Painted Burro in Davis Square will celebrate National Taco Day by highlighting the trio of top tacos submitted in a contest; guests can sample all three and vote for the winner, which will land temporarily on the menu and earn its creator a celebratory taco party. While you're there, check out one of the Burro's newest house specialties: the crispy avocado taco with heirloom tomato, red pepper mole, sautéed spinach, Mexican crema, cotija and spiced pepitas.
219 Elm St., Somerville; 617-776-0005
Courtesy of Tico
Cauliflower taco at Tico
Chef Michael Schlow's Latin American–inspired restaurant in Back Bay just added a simple but stellar new taco to its fall menu: crispy cauliflower topped with corn salsa and pickled red onion. And Tico is also adding something new to your social calendar: an "Alice in Wonderland"–themed Halloween party coming up this Saturday, October 29 with a cocktail hour, DJ, passed apps and a dessert bar. Purchase tickets here ($50 until October 18; $65 after); proceeds benefit the breast cancer nonprofit the Ellie Fund.
222 Berkeley St.; 617-351-0400
Courtesy of Temazcal
Grilled salmon taco at Temazcal
This duo of Mexican restaurants, with locations in Boston's Seaport and the suburb of Lynnfield, has introduced a new grilled salmon taco — for the carb-averse, they're served on lettuce wraps — available as a special throughout October. Or, swing by the Lynnfield location on Tuesdays: Its weekly "Taco Tuesday" special offers all varieties at half-off from 11 AM–6 PM.
Courtesy of Besito
Pescado tacos at Besito Mexican
Upscale Mexican chain Besito has added something new to its menu: pescado tacos, featuring crispy fish, salsa chipotle crema and fresh-made salsa molcajete. They're served as a trio lunch entree, and as a duo for a dinner app. Need another reason to swim by? Today Besito is celebrating National Taco Day with a "buy one, get one" deal offered during lunch and dinner (dine-in only).
Braised pork belly walking taco at Bit Bar Salem
It's October, so you don't need much more reason to hit Salem. But this new restaurant-slash-vintage arcade is a damn good one: A funky joint where you can guzzle craft beers, drop quarters into your favorite joystick-equipped childhood video games and nosh on creative comfort food. That includes a handful of "walking tacos," open-faced tacos on beds of tortillas; these bowls are much more convenient to eat when you're strolling from game to game. Don't miss Bit Bar's crazy concoction of braised pork belly, salsa verde, cotija cheese, pickled onion, all piled atop crumbled Cool Ranch Doritos. So wrong, but so right.
50 St. Peter St., Salem; 978-594-4838
Shrimp à la diabla at Casa Verde
Jamaica Plain's new Mexican restaurant offers a wide splay of south-of-the-border–inspired plates, but the tacos are particularly top-notch. We love the fiery spice à la Diabla, which features Guajillo chile–marinated shrimp, cabbage curtido, crema and salsa verde.
711 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 617-477-9977