Taco Showdown : 2016 State Street Edition

Damas y caballeros,

It is with great pleasure that we announce the (re-)appearance of articles from slctacos.com.  We appreciate your patience dear readers as it’s been too long since we’ve last provided you content in the form of hard hitting taco journalism.  But let’s not dwell on that.  Let’s get to the TACO SHOWDOWN.

It’s been years since we’ve featured a TACO SHOWDOWN wherein a number of taco enthusiasts perform some “taco science” as they conduct a taste test of various taco stands during lunch to determine which one has their favorite tacos.


In this edition, I had the pleasure of tearing up some tacos with my gracious work colleagues.  All of these taco warriors were ready not only to put away some tacos but gather some data in the process.  For some, this was a first street taco experience. For that we are grateful to have been there with your for this occasion.  We take it from these interviews that this will not be their last taco experience.


Taco Enthusiast Yiwen finishes her first ever street tacos.  I’m expecting that she will soon be a guest author here.

To celebrate el 11 de Agosto (a day which no one celebrates) we descended upon “Sears Corner” to conduct research on who has the best tacos :



For those of you playing at home, a gentle reminder is these taco stands exist on the same corner of 800 South and State Street and that Don Rafa is on the “State Street side” while El Toro is located on the “800 South side”.  Keep this in mind as you perform your own taco orientation upon arrival.

While this was not the most careful study every conducted, we did collect some data from a number of the participants as far as their preferred tacos.  Not all taco enthusiasts had the same style taco at both stands, bot for those that did, we collected some data to share with the taco community.


Methods employed in this TACO SHOWDOWN were rigorous.  Each interviewee was merely asked “Did you try a style of taco at each taco stand?  If so, which taco stand did you prefer?


Of the 13 participants interviewed, 12 consumed at least one taco style from both Don Rafa and El Toro within the taco session.  The other participant had a single quesadilla from one of the stands and was then too full to perform a comparison.

A simple plot of the preferences can be seen below in Figure 1.



Figure 1 : Preferred Taco Stands By Taco Class



From these results, we see strong preference for Tacos Don Rafa when it comes to Carne Asada tacos with a vote of 7 to 3.  We’d certainly like to conduct more research on this matter before we crown Tacos Don Rafa as the better of Carne Asada tacos so please cast your votes in comments below or by sending a postcard with your vote via U.S. Mail to SLC Tacos HQ.  We read all of our mail.


Taco veteran Patrick observes as taco enthusiast Fangxiang enjoys his first plate of street tacos in his life. Fangxiang said that he enjoyed street tacos because they reminded him of childhood memories of eating street food.

There’s no conclusion to be drawn from the close voting on Al Pastor tacos (4 vs 3 for Don Rafa).  Finally, there’s only a sample size of 1 taco enthusiast voting in the Chicken race but we placed it here just to make the graph look more interesting.

It is interesting to note that stratifying the results by those new to street tacos (n=3) compared to seasoned taco veterans (n=10) there was no significant pattern of whether taco initiates or verterans compared one taco stand versus another.  This inquiry should be continued in later work.


ZW samples his first ever street tacos.  This was such an honor.  There is no doubt that this was my favorite moment of the day.  It was my privilege to have been present.


Tacos are delicious.  We should all eat more of them.


Tacos veterans Nefi and Miguel enjoying some Tacos Don Rafa!!!

It was an absolute delight sharing tacos with my good friends.  It was an honor that this was a first occasion for many in the group.  I hope that the trend continues and we do another TACO SHOWDOWN soon.

In the meantime, is there a new taco stand that we should review at slctacos.com?  Do you have any hot leads on something we should cover?  Please leave a comment and join in the taco discussion.

TACO REVIEW – Taqueria 27


Taqueria 27
1615 South Foothill Drive
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been quite some time since there has been a taco review here at slctacos.com.  However. tonight we’re in for a special treat.  tonight we have a guest reviewer who is quite a connaisseur or local cuisine.  I know this young lady has a developed palate and a keen sense of the foods that she enjoys.  This guest reviewer has decided to remain anonymous but goes by the handle “MadNumber”.


Although she is younger than some taco enthusiasts, she prefers the finer things in life.  Earlier this year I had the privilege of being invited to her 6th birthday soirée at Meditrina.  I asked this young fan of tacos and tapas to review the very popular Taqueria 27 and we are fortunate enough that she would accept and give us words and photos of the event.  And now, I present to you MadNumber’s review of Taqueria 27…


Mushroom Taco

Mmmm… That’s good!  I like it!  I kinda like the dip in it!  The dip that’s inside it.  And I like this wavy stuff.  (Ed : From what I understand, the wavy stuff are leeks.  Please check my work on this, but I am checking on this based on the menu at Taqueria 27)

Grilled Pears and Roasted Beets

I kind of like it.  So I like the beets.  I don’t like the pear.


(Ed : MadNumber yelled this, not your taco enthusiast editor.  I think she was hungry for more tacos…)


Fish Taco

I kind of like it.  Kind of.  I don’t know when it got really hot.  Like the burned part.  I don’t like the inside of the meat but I really like the cabbage.

(Ed : Finally, I understand the MadNumber would likely give Taqueria 27 a score of 4 stars out of a possible 5.  I understand that she would like to eat there again.)

Maps and Tacos : Together at last

I haven’t been posting much lately, but I have to post when two of my favorite things come together :


I found this cool map on reddit and I thought others might like it too :

Taco Map

Taco Map

REVIEW – Hidalgo II

Hidalgo 2 near the Energy Solutions arena and The Depot

Hidalgo II
400 W between North Temple and South Temple (click for map)
Catering : Yes

Review Score : 4 out of 5 stars

The wind was angry mis amigos.  Nearly as angry as members of our taco army who have written me angry emails due to the lack of taco reviews on slctacos.com over the last year.  This wind was so angry that it almost blew away the tacos we tried to eat in creating this review.  The fact that you are reading this now means that we did not die and the tacos ended up in our mouths.  As a strong group of 6 taco enthusiasts, we have just experienced the tacos from Hidalgo II located on 400 W between The Depot and Energy Solutions arena directly in front of the office building on the North end of the Gateway.


Having heard from several co-workers about the tacos at Hidalgo II and the long lines to acquire them, we arrived to find a sizable queue consisting of construction workers and office folk.  We were not disappointed and this is definitely a taco stand that I would recommend to one and all.  Since there are some new readers who may be reading this review at Ugly Magazine rather than on slctacos.com, let me say that this one of the first things I look for in suggesting taco stands to taco newbies is to watch how food is prepared and how money is handled.  On both accounts Hidalgo II scores high marks since they keep their grill and cooking area clean and they have a separate gentleman to handle the dollars.  So the place is clean and this keeps the line moving.  But enough about this, let’s get to the tacos.

This is a small fraction of the line to get tacos at Hidalgo II

Among our army of enthusiasts, we tried the tacos and a couple of the burritos.  Tacos are $1, Burritos are $4 and Quesadillas are $3.  I personally tried the 4 tacos offered so I will review them each individually :

Clockwise from the upper left we have : Carnitas, Asada, Pollo, Al Pastor

Al Pastor (Spicy Pork) : 4.5 stars
Carne Asada (Beef) : 4 stars
Carnitas (Shredded, roasted pork) : 3 stars
Pollo (you guessed right : chicken) : 2.5 stars

I always measure a taco cart by the quality of its al pastor which was exceptional with a fantastic marinade with just the right amount of spice, but I was surprised by the carne asada.  I’m usually not a fan of beef at most taco stands but I will definitely be returning to order a couple more of the carne asada tacos.  The meat is perfectly cooked since the cook at Hidalgo II is precise and lightning fast.  There is such a line there every day at lunch that he is forced to move at superhuman speeds.  During this flurry of taco duty, the chavo was still able to talk to me a bit about the stand and told me he was excited about the revista I am currently writing.  His recommendation was that everyone should try the carne asada at the stand since he is particularly proud of it and he says the local construction workers love it.

After snagging my tacos, a horrible viento rushed upon me out of nowhere which attempted to blow my tacos all over 4th West.  The review could have ended there.  Instead, this was the moment I met Nicolas who rushed up and helped me cover the precious tacos with tin foil as soon as I had my toppings.  Nicolas did not initially believe me that I work as a taco journalist but after a few questions he realized that I mean serious taco business and he was happy to answer questions about the stand he runs with fellow amigos from Hidalgo, Mexico.

Talking to Nicolas about the construction and his home of Hidalgo, Mexico

He told me that as in all parts of Mexico, methods and materials for building delicious tacos are different and he is excited to share his tacos in the style of his home state Hidalgo.  Hidalgo II has been open for 9 months now and Hidalgo I would be 3 years old but it recently closed due to the fact that 4th West is torn to shreds from construction.  When the construction is over, Nicolas says that both will be open since they have a large number of visitors every day.

We wished we could stay to talk to Nicolas a bit longer, but the wind did not allow it.  Even with tin foil guarding our delicious cargo, we were forced to retreat to our taco fortress (work) where we could eat.  Some of us could wait, but the anticipation was nearly overwhelming.  As you can see from the photos, some of us started eating along the walk.  When we finally were able to give the tacos a proper prueba we all agreed that Hidalgo II would enter regular rotation so we will be seeing you there when we show up for lunch.

Taco enthusiast Mike could not wait and started eating as we walked through the Gateway. The wind tried to steal his burrito but Mike would not let the wind steal it.

As a final note, I must mention that the anticipation and wind intensity were factored into the final review score for this taco stand.  This did make our taco adventure more exciting and it did enhance the flavor, so the review score was slightly reduced so that the true quality could be reflected without being influenced by the wind which nearly killed us and stole our tacos.

Stay tuned for the next taco review and I’ll see you at the taco stands!

Ugly Magazine launch and new reviews on the way!

Hola, fellow taco enthusiasts.  It’s been a long time since we have written reviews here at SLCTacos but that it about to change.  There are some new projects in the works and we just regained our founder noyen since he has returned to Salt Lake.

Speaking of new projects, you will soon be seeing some of these reviews and possibly others in Salt Lake’s new Ugly Magazine.  It launches tomorrow on Friday, April 13th and tickets for the opening are still available so get them here.

Watch this space and watch Ugly Magazine’s site for new reviews showing up in the next 72 hours.

Meanwhile, I’ll see you at the taco stands!

Taco a Day is in full force!

A couple months ago I accidentally stumbled onto the blog of an incredibly talented taco journalist.

Well, he is back in force trying different tacos each day during the month of May.  Go check out his adventures, photos and taco findings at http://tacoaday.com/!

Food Truck Sunday

Sorry I don’t have a lot of time to post about food truck locations today.  Before I give informations on where I hear the trucks will be today, I will give the listing of trucks I hit yesterday along with an AVERAGE of review scores from the crew that I visited the trucks with yesterday.  I didn’t try all of these, so again take these with a grain of salt :

  • Devilicious : 4 out of 5
  • Cafe con Leche 3.5 out of 5 (delicious, but overpriced)
  • Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Choose : 4 out of 5
  • The Lime Truck : 4.5 out of 5 (I didn’t try this, but my party raved over it…)

To find the trucks today, just follow @YelpUtah right here :

As a side note, I met Jeffrey from Yelp Utah yesterday while in line for Roxy’s Grilled Cheese.  He was a stand up dude and he knows a million times more about local food than I do.  I was in awe…