Every Time is Taco Time
September 14, 2021 5:53 AM   Subscribe

We got a tortilla press recently and are making the shit out of some tacos, but we're getting tired of our usual varieties. What are some creative taco fillings you can recommend? Do not have to be traditionally Mexican.
posted by something something to Food & Drink (44 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I try to buy food as inexpensively as possible. My solution for taco meat is to buy Pork Loin at aldi (usually under $1.99/lb for about 5 lbs) and aldi bbq sauce (Usually about $1 for a bottle, it's knockoff sweet baby rays). I also buy an onion.

Chop the onion, put the pork loin on top of it in the slow cooker for about 8 hours, or until the pork is ready to pull. Carefully scrape off the fat/remove with a fork, then shred the pork into the liquid below. The pork will absorb a lot of fat, don't worry about it. Then, put the whole bottle of bbq sauce in, and let cook with the lid half on, for another hour or so.

Excellent BBQ pulled pork! For like, $7 for maybe 20 servings. It's one of my most-made dishes. We eat it on tacos, occasionally buns, in ramen, or in other random dishes.
posted by bbqturtle at 5:59 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]

As a vegetarian at hip taco joints 'round Texas, I pretty much survived on roasted cauliflower taco. I'm also a huge fan of potato tacos, because carbs are the best. The trick with hi carb fillings (even beans, really), is to get an acid in there somewhere to balance it out. Pickled jalepeno, onion or carrot, pineapple maybe? Pickled beet? Get some roasted pepitas on there for crunch and you have your basic hip taco joint's only vegetarian option. The layers are key in my opinion.

It's not really out there, but do you migas?
posted by theweasel at 6:07 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]

Diced potato
TVP with beans
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:08 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

A lot of the gloopier americanized versions of Asian dishes are excellent wrapped up in tortillas -- sweet and sour pork, teriyaki chicken, kung pao chicken, et al.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:19 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]

Maybe not the *most* creative but for lunch today I'm going to have sweet potato and black bean tacos with cashew cream and pickled red onions. I stumbled across this combo a couple years ago and idk, there's something really extra-delicious about it - lots of textures, acid, creaminess, sweetness.
posted by mskyle at 6:24 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]

Go south asian with that - butter chicken, chana masala, saag paneer. Free the taco mind and see through time!
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:26 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]

buffalo chicken (either fried or grilled chicken tossed in buffalo sauce), ranch, lettuce, tomato, red onion
we make this as a wrap, but you could call it a taco if you want.

make quesdillas just a grilled taco - un traditional flavors - bbq chicken with red onion, grilled chicken, mont jack and bbq sauce. or mushroom and gruyere or chili and cheese

sweet taco - smear on nutella and load with fruit

your very delicious tortillas would make an excellent vehicle for sopping up white chili, green chili pork, beef guisado. Kinda a soupy tacos. i have good recipes if you like
posted by domino at 6:28 AM on September 14

I've done this as a quesadilla, not a taco, but it should still work: grilled chicken chunks, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and mozzarella.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:28 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Refried beans (whole also works) and potatoes all the way.
posted by 8603 at 6:29 AM on September 14

There's a place here in town that does a taco that's fried shrimp, pickled onions, shredded cabbage, and a pink sauce that's mayonnaise thinned out with hot sauce. Folks, they're good as hell.
posted by saladin at 6:30 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]

I've made tacos with tempeh cooked in barbecue sauce, cabbage, and pineapple. They were great.

You might also want to look into the tongue-in-cheek book The Taco Cleanse. A few sample recipes are available here.
posted by FencingGal at 6:34 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Sautéed greens (kale or chard usually)
Caramelized onions
Goat cheese
Homemade tomatillo sauce (roast halved tomatillos and a few cloves of garlic in a cast iron pan, when done blend up with some olive oil, adobo sauce, and any other seasonings you like)
posted by zibra at 6:35 AM on September 14

Cheese-stuffed roasted peppers!! Omg so good. Ideally, chop it up a little at the end while you cook on a smoking hot griddle to get some crispy cheese in there.
posted by EmilyFlew at 6:37 AM on September 14

Mexican but not classically a taco filling: Huevos con Chorizo
posted by mmascolino at 6:45 AM on September 14

We like a combo of chorizo (we use soy/vegan chorizo but I don't know why it wouldn't work with regular), black beans, spinach, tomatillo salsa and goat cheese. (Spinach can be fresh or sauteed -- just make sure it's not too wet when you're done).
posted by edencosmic at 7:05 AM on September 14

Coming in to recommend Rick Bayless' YT channel - owner of Frontera Grill. Traditional Mexican food covering multiple regions. He has a ton of taco offerings.
posted by SoundInhabitant at 7:19 AM on September 14

Ground venison, heavily spiced.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:20 AM on September 14

I love these cauliflower tacos from Smitten Kitchen, including the quick pickled onions!
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:28 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]

posted by Julnyes at 7:29 AM on September 14

posted by kathrynm at 7:52 AM on September 14

Protein + creamy + spicy + crunchy + acid

Sprinkle your favorite fish (usually a mild white fish like Mahi) or shrimp with taco seasoning (or salt, garlic powder, chili or chile powder) and quickly saute in a hot oiled pan until cooked through.

Crunchy Acid
Bag of cole slaw mix (or slice up your own) with vinegar or lime juice

Creamy Spicy
Mix mayo (and/or sour cream) with as much of a can of Chipotle peppers as you want for spice (put the rest of the can in a bag/container in the freezer)
posted by RoadScholar at 8:06 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I'm not a vegan, but I do appreciate tasty foods that don't incorporate meat. So I make a vegan taco filling by chopping up mushrooms very finely in a food processor and frying until crispy, then adding a chopped onion and red pepper and finishing with seasoned TVP. It's usually better the next day.

I spread hummus on a warm tortilla, then add the vegan filling, then top with maybe a slice of avocado and some salsa.

So satisfying!!!
posted by rocketman at 8:20 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]

I'm vegan, so here's what I came up with:
mushrooms (portobellos, shitakes, etc)
tofu (baked/ grilled)
seitan (marinated & grilled)
tempeh (marinated & sauteed), as mentioned above

DC has a couple of korean taco places and you might find inspiration from the menu if you're okay with fusion-type food: https://www.takorean.com/menu/
posted by wicked_sassy at 8:21 AM on September 14

beans & cheese

salt & butter
posted by at at 8:23 AM on September 14

chicken/tofu tikka masala
tater tots/crispy crowns
brats + kraut (debatable whether this is a sausage taco or a tortilla bun)
sautéed greens + cheese
posted by substars at 8:28 AM on September 14

Chicken Caprese tacos - grilled chicken, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinegar - we just had this last night!
posted by mollweide at 8:47 AM on September 14

Is TVG textured vegetable protein? Sorry for the derail.
posted by Bella Donna at 9:04 AM on September 14

Is TVG textured vegetable protein? Sorry for the derail.

Yes, TVP is textured vegetable protein, sorry. I'm so used to just throwing out the acronym!
posted by rocketman at 9:06 AM on September 14

Bulgogi beef tacos are delicious. Can't vouch for this particular recipe, as I've only had them at a great dive bar in town.
posted by hydra77 at 9:10 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

I would also suggest doing something carnitas-like. Long-cook a pork butt with just salt and pepper. When you pull it out to cool off, skim the fat off the liquid and cook that down on the stove until it's a sticky glaze. Then tear the pork into rough chunks and combine with the glaze. This keeps well in the refrigerator and also freezes exceptionally well. This pork can then serve as the base for a lot of things. You can combine with tomatoes for a pork ragu. You can use it for cubano sandwiches. And so on. For carnitas tacos, just fry up the pork base in a really hot pan until one side gets nicely crispy, then dress in the tortilla however you like (salsa, sauteed poblano peppers, whatever).

Birria tacos are also fantastic, and the base keeps/freezes well.
posted by slkinsey at 9:28 AM on September 14

I know you're asking about tortilla fillings, but I used a tortilla press to shape scallion pancakes and that slapped. I think going Asian in your tacos is a good plan too - ginger chicken, pork & cabbage, kung pao anything, katsu anything.
posted by vunder at 9:39 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

There are some great ideas in Wes Avila's Guerrilla Tacos cookbook. Sweet potato and feta with corn nuts and almond salsa is a personal favorite.
posted by neroli at 9:40 AM on September 14

Do you live near an H Mart? They usually have pre-marinated bulgogi, pork belly, etc. Cook that up in a pan, top it with one of the many kimchi varieties they have on hand, or even just fresh veggies and a bit of pickled ginger and you're in business.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:56 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Mashed potatoes and a fine-chopped chipotle salsa made for some excellent late-night happy-hour tacos I had once.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:37 AM on September 14

Mini Marshmallows, (bananas), peanut butter, chocolate chips. Kind of like crepes (but better in my opinion).
posted by raccoon409 at 11:11 AM on September 14

Lately I've been roasting sweet potatoes in some chipotle salsa, then tossing in a tortilla (or on a bed of rice or greens) with blue cheese, scallions, and pecans. Delicious.
posted by writermcwriterson at 11:48 AM on September 14

Sohla's hot-dog tacos are surprisingly good. I top them with coleslaw that has relish mixed into the dressing.
posted by dogmom at 12:40 PM on September 14

Halloumi and pickled onions
posted by OrangeVelour at 12:49 PM on September 14

A place here makes an excellent egg, potato and linguisa taco on a flour tortilla.
posted by vunder at 12:53 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]

Macaroni burrito, baby.
posted by ewok_academy at 2:09 PM on September 14

posted by southern_sky at 4:00 PM on September 14

Nik Sharma’s book is my go to for interesting tacos Cauliflower Za’atar Don’t skip the mint chutney.
In Season, he also has these pulled pork tacos with apple-serrano slaw with shredded pork cooked with a blend of Indian spices that were to die for.
posted by Lucubrator at 9:30 AM on September 15

I made Kenji Lopez-Alt's tacos al pastor in the oven a few months ago, and froze the cooked pork, pineapple, fat, and juices into large ice cubes.
The prep is no joke, but I got about thirty meals out of it. It is, and I can't stress this enough, fucking fantastic.
posted by Kreiger at 9:39 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it's creative, but I love rajas (strips of roasted peppers in cream) and don't see people using them in home street tacos nearly enough.

They're especially great with potatoes, or corn, or potatoes and corn.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:55 PM on September 15

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