Tacos to Talk About: New Orleans Local Spots

image of three tacos from above

New Orleans is known as a melting pot of flavors. From soul food, traditional french cuisine, all the way to asian fusion street food. One of the many flavors you can find here is hispanic cuisine.

One of the best ways to find this flavor and flare is by looking hard for the hidden gems, AKA the places with the best tacos. If you don’t have time to look, we can get you started with this list of some local favorites. 

Here’s a list of a few places the locals rave about.

tacos from Juans Flying Burrito

Operating four locations within the New Orleans area is Juan’s Flying Burrito. Juan’s opened during the Mardi Gras season of 1997 and have been serving fresh Mexican cuisine ever since.  Juan’s is known for their unique take on Mexican food. They were inspired by San Francisco burrito joints that had been popular during the 80’s and early 90’s. Today they’re more inspired by the city of New Orleans, and have evolved into the world’s first Creole Taqueria. Blending both Creole flavors with Mexican cuisine. A great example of this is their Mardi Gras Indian Tacos! These tacos are made with grilled Corn, grilled Squash, Camellia’s pinto beans, Cheddar-Jack shredded cheese, and Juan’s jalapeño slaw. Always served with warm white corn tortillas.

Taco from Velvet Cactus

Velvet Cactus New Orleans is an authentic Tex-Mex restaurant, with a bit of a funky art vibe. With 9 types of tacos to choose from, Velvet Cactus has something everyone will enjoy. One of their unique tacos is the Ahi Tuna. This taco includes seared Ahi Tuna, avocado, red onions, queso fresco, creole slaw, and a special raspberry chipotle sauce. For the less adventurous eater, Velvet Cactus serves up a delicious taco called the Gringo. Lean ground beef tacos with lettuce, mixed cheeses and pico de gallo held by a flour tortilla. This taco recipe is a classic yet delicious, similar to what most of us grew up eating. Don’t forget your taco sauce to take the flavors and spices up a notch.

Tacos from El Gato Negro

El Gato Negro or “The Black Cat” operates locations in the New Orleans area including Lakeview, The French Quarter and Historic Gretna. They have labeled themselves as an authentic Mexican kitchen, serving an extensive Mexican menu, inspired by the traditional recipes found in Michoacán, Mexico. For over 30 years, El Gato Negro serves everything from Carne Asada to “Mega Burritos.” However, there’s a hidden gem on their menu – the LA Crawfish Taco, which is made with sautéed red onions, topped with sour cream and local hot sauce, and served with your choice of tortilla. This taco is a delicious and creative blend of New Orleans and Mexico.

Tacos from Nolé

Nolé is a fairly new and trendy spot in New Orleans’ Garden District. They include all the traditional Mexican meals we know and love, and some with a twist. This restaurant celebrates the natural but under-rated combination of Latin American and New Orleans cultures and cuisine. There’s over 8 types of tacos to choose from and you can even build your own. One taco in particular stands out to us, and that’s the corn fried oyster tacos. Fresh oysters fried in cornmeal, topped with chipotle tartar sauce, pickled okra, cabbage, and avocado makes the perfect fusion of Mexico and Louisiana. If you can’t make it for their taco Tuesday, definitely try and stop by for their brunch!

Tacos from Tacos Del Cartel

As their name might suggest, Tacos Del Cartel is the head chief when it comes to tacos. Inspired by the Mexican street food found in California, Tacos Del Cartel prides themselves on serving authentic Mexican food “with creative mezcalería.” Chef Julio Machado runs the kitchen and develops the menu; where he’s able to show off his passion for international cuisine and technique of food fusion. Tacos Del Cartel offers several show-stopping tacos, like Carne Asada, Brisket, Chicken Tinga and a Vegan Tofu Tostada. But the one that stands out to us is their Birria tacos. This dish includes three slow braised short ribs, marinated in chile adobo, topped chihuahua cheese, and served with chile broth onions & fresh cilantro. If you can’t choose what kind to get, don’t worry. They offer a mix and match meal so you can try a few!

Four Tacos on a dish with Lime Slices

There’s so many factors that create a signature taco, from the taco shells to the protein. However, at the heart of every good taco is a great taco seasoning. Chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion are only a few of the necessary seasonings. Every restaurant puts their own twists into their seasoning blend. Most restaurants have what they call a “secret blend” to achieve their perfect flavor profile.

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