“Best Street Taco Connoisseur” awarded from City Weekly

Sometimes a taco journalist asks himself if all the long nights at the office are worth it.  He may wonder if he is reaching his audience and whether his hard hitting journalism might be hitting too hard or not hard enough.

If he is lucky, then on days like today a taco journalist is proud to learn that he is named the “Best Street Taco Connoisseur” in print.  City Weekly has published their annual “Best of Utah” issue and your truly has received this award.  There are hundreds if not thousands of people who deserve this award so I am humbled to have received this honor, which is only slightly lesser in grandeur compared to the coveted Congressional Medal of Tacos.

With this honor comes responsibility and I know I have work to do.  I want to extend thanks to everyone who reads this site and to everyone in the world who loves tacos.

Here is what City Weekly said here in the presenting of the award :

Best Street-Taco Connoisseur
Kelly Peterson, SLCTacos.com
We all have our food passions, but not many turn those passions into an invaluable resource for others. From a simple mission statement that he summarizes as, “I love tacos!” Kelly Peterson has set out to chronicle the restaurants and street vendors who serve up Salt Lake City’s finest collections of meat, cheese and condiments wrapped in a tortilla. Reviews and taco-related ephemera are part of the regular blog postings that have given fellow tacoficionados an invaluable way of guiding their gastronomic wanderings.

BLOG – tacoaday.com

Go here.  Now.


How did I never hear about this blog before?  Moments ago I stumbled upon this incredible treasure written by a modern day hero whose site simply reads :

this is an account of when I ate a lot of tacos.

Last year (in the face of some adversity chronicled in his “Dear Haters” post) he set off on a quest  :

in May I travelled around Salt Lake and Utah County and I ate tacos every day. now I just eat tacos most days.

These posts are hilarious.  Not only is there a 7 gnome rating scale employed, but also a percentage likelihood in returning.  So much data.  We could generate so many box and whisker plots from this.  I better go start analyzing all of these “tacometrics” as this gentleman puts it and generate some reports in R.

Gnome holding a taco from tacoaday.com

I’ve already started chewing through these posts.  Some are expected (Chunga’s) but some I have not heard of.  Such discoveries are possible when a man sets off on a vision quest.  He finds wonders that the rest have never dreamed of.

I will be posting more gems from here, but make no mistake — we want this person to write with us here on slctacos.com!

REVIEW – Taqueria Lupitas

Tacos at Chevron! A true Christmas miracle. Que vista de milagros!

Taqueria Lupitas
500 S West Temple (southwest corner, at the Chevron gas station)
4 out of 5 stars
Tacos are $1 each

My Christmas gift came early this year.  One week before Christmas I got a voicemail from taco enthusiast Tyler.  He told me of a miracle I could not believe.  There are prophecies and tales of future events, but when it comes to tacos I take them very seriously.  They are sacred.  But Tyler knows that tacos are sacred so this could be no prank.  This was serious business.

He told me that there was a brand new taco stand right across the street from where he and I work.  What?  Really?  A taco stand visible from our office?  Seconds away?  If this were true, then a true Christmas miracle was about to unfold.

I hadn’t been in the office much due to Finals week so I decided to try the stand (if this miracle truly existed) the next time I was in the office.  This week as I walked into work I saw the glorious vista featured above.  A taco stand at the Chevron station.  You bet I heard angels singing.

Taqueria Lupitas has been open for two weeks now. It is named after the cuñada of the two owners.

I arrived at the taco stand the same time as two other women who work at the hotel near my work.  I knew I had to get an al pastor like I do at each taco stand.  And I can’t say no to barbacoa either.  Still, I wanted some expert opinions.  Were these women veterans of the 2-week-old Taqueria Lupitas stand? I slapped on my taco journalist hat… BECAUSE I WAS ABOUT TO FIND OUT!

I haven’t spoken Spanish in months, so my words tumbled out in a mess, but I was still able to find out that the women had been coming t0 the taco stand since its opening.  If I had one more taco to be allotted, they suggested I try the asada.  Not to be missed, they said.  They also laughed at my Spanish because I sound super gringo these days.

I walked up, ordered and set in on some intense taco journalism to find out how this Christmas miracle came to be.

As you can see, I was hungy and already took a bite of the asada. Also featured : al pastor and barbacoa.

I spoke to Antonio and his brother who are from Michoacán, Mexico.  They told me while cooking that the stand has been open for 2 weeks now.  When asked if they had any difficulty opening up a taco stand on the property of the gas station, they laughed and said that was the easy part.  In fact, the gas station is very glad to have them but getting the license from the city was not a fun process.  They told me that it went on for such a long time that they were losing hope that it was going to happen, but finally they got it and they are fully licensed by the city.  I should add that their stand is one of the cleanest I have seen in SLC.

I asked about the clientele they have since they are on a busy road (500 S) which is a main route to leave downtown SLC and jump onto I-15.  They told me that much of the business comes on foot, especially from my office building and from nearby hotels.  Still, they told me that they’ve laughed because there are other taco fanáticos who come rushing over.  In fact, they have many customers who have slammed on their brakes upon noticing the stand and screeched into the parking lot to snag a load of tacos for their commute home.  Business, they tell me, is going very well so far.

Antonio said he had to laugh when I ordered the barbacoa.  He said that their gringo customers can’t get enough of the barbacoa which is a sentiment not shared by their latino clientele.  Antonio mentions that he loves that the stand is well frequented by gringos and latinos alike.

A listing of the items offered at Taqueria Lupitas

As my tacos arrived, I was  nervous.  What if they weren’t good?  What good would a taco stand be across from my work building if they were not super bien rico?  Luckily, they were very delicious as were the salsas and fixins.  My new amigas were right to recommend the asada.  It was savory, juicy and my favorite of the bunch.  The barbacoa was good as well.  Not as good as other taco stands, but very tasty.  The al pastor was honestly nothing to write home about.  Not nearly enough flavor.  Not as spicy as what I was expecting. Maybe I caught them on a bad day and of course since I am so close I will definitely be trying it again.  I will keep you posted.

As I left, I told them how happy I was to have a taco stand so close to work.  In fact, I had to tell them, “En verdad, este carrito es mi regalito de Navidad.” (Truly, this taco stand is my Christmas present).  My new amigas burst into laughter as did Antonio and his brother working the grill.  They laughed, but they also new my sincerity.

As I left after we had a good laugh, Antonio asked me “Pues, nos vemos pronto?”

Yes, Antonio, I will be back very soon.

Taco Documentary!

Hey everyone!

Sorry things have been so quiet here at SLCTacos lately, but it was all in the name of science.  Unfortunately it was not taco science but rather towards my Master’s degree in my first full-time quarter of graduate school.  I’ve got a few weeks off now so expect at least one review.

In the meantime, we have received news of a very cool documentary about taco stands in Austin, Texas by a Mr. Robert Lemon working towards his Ph.D.  Dr. Lemon (as I will start referring to him) is also a food geographer and he brings us this very cool documentary about what the taco scene is like in Austin.

What do you think?

UPDATE : Tacos Don Martin

Taco enthusiasts-

Sorry it has been so long since our last reviews.  I have been very busy with graduate school and so far I have been unable to finish a few reviews sitting on my plate.  However, we have some great reviews and stories in the works for slctacos.com which I will be sharing with you soon.

In the meantime, several people often contact me for phone numbers at the taco stands we review for catering, pick up orders, etc.

The phone number for Tacos Don Martin in Sugarhouse has recently changed, so take this opportunity to call Juanita to order some tacos or walk down there in person and try them out.  They are delicious.  Her tacos and cebollas are not to be missed.  Here is her new phone number : 801-414-6182

Thanks for your patience on the next round of reviews!!!

Nick James Taco Recipes — WORLD PREMIERE

Hi everyone.

As promised I have posted Nick’s recipes for his tacos recently reviewed on this site.  I posted them late, but they are here nonetheless :

Pork Taco Recipe

Chicken Taco Recipe

Pico de Gallo, Guacamole and Chipotle Mayo Recipes

Nick James’ Pico de Gallo, Guacamole and Chipotle Mayo

Pico de Gallo :

  1. 2 vine tomatoes, diced
  2. 1 / 2 red onion, diced small
  3. handful chopped cilantro
  4. 2 tsp salt
  5. few dashes of green tabasco
  6. spritz lime on top

Guacamole :

NOTE : This is for tacos only.  For chips, combine with pico and a clove of minced garlic.

Mash the following :

  1. 3 avocados
  2. 2 tsp salt

Finally add a spritz of lime

Chipotle Mayo :

  1. 1 / 4 cup mayo
  2. 1 tbsp chipotle sauce or chipotle tabasco

To combine all these things into a taco, Nick recommends the following order (starting from a bare tortilla)

  1. Warm tortilla
  2. Spread Chipotle Mayo
  3. Add meat
  4. Add Guacamole
  5. Add Pico de Gallo

Nick James’ Chicken Taco Recipe

Here is the recipe from Nick James’ recent Taco Tuesday Tasting.  These tacos were amazing.  While somewhat sweet, there was a lot of flavor here.

Mix the following in the pan :

  1. 12 fl oz orange juice
  2. splash cider vinegar
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced
  4. 1 / 4 brown / yellow onion, chopped

Let this simmer for 1 – minutes, then add :

  1. 4 chicken thighs
  2. seasoning salt or cajun seasoning
  3. 2 – 3 tbsp chipotle sauce
  4. 1 – 2 tbsp green tabasco
  5. 2 tsp salt
  6. 2  tsp cinnamon
  7. 4 – 6 jalapeno slices
  8. couple splashes of orange juice

Simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.  Turn off heat.  Remove thighs and cut meat off the bones and pull with a fork to shred.  Return to liquid and simmer for at least 10 – 15 minutes.


Nick James’ Pork Taco Recipe

Here is the recipe Nick James gave me from our recent Taco Tuesday tasting.  These tacos were amazing and between these and the chicken tacos, I think that these win.

Pork Tacos

Add the following in the pan :

  1. 1 can mango nectar
  2. splash of vinegar
  3. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  4. 1/4 onion, chopped
  5. Add 1/2 pound or so of pork shoulder
  6. 2 – 3 tsp chili powder
  7. 2 – 3 tsp red pepper flakes
  8. 1 tbsp brown mustard
  9. 1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or 3 – 4 tbsp chipotle sauce)
  10. 2 – 3 tsp hot sauce of choice
  11. 2 – 4 jalapeno slices with splash of juice

Simmer 20 – 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and pull meat from bone (if applicable).  Return to sauce.  Simmer 10 – 15 minutes or more.


REVIEW — Nick James and his homemade tacos

Chef : Nick James

Address : He lives in the Avenues of SLC, but there is no restaurant 😉

Phone : Shall not be listed

4 stars out of 5

A week or so ago I received an email from my good friend Nick that he wanted to make tacos for a group of friends so that they could be reviewed by a proper taco taco journalist such as myself :

I was stewing up some chicken thigh for tacos this morning, and it reminded me that I want to make you tacos sometime.

Included in the email was the incredible photo above that Nick had taken of his tacos.  Could I say no?  Of course I couldn’t.  We planned it out and on a magical Taco Tuesday Nick went to work and improvised on his latest taco recipes to create us some incredible chicken and pork tacos.

All week long I was anxious to try Nick’s tacos.  Nick is an extremely creative person and having mentioned to me that he had been continually changing and improving on his improvised taco recipes I was very curious to see what he would share with us.  Nick is a great artist (you can see his work at http://nickjam.es/) but until that night I had not had the opportunity to taste any of his cooking.

Nick has told me that his enjoyment and approach in cooking is very much like that in his artwork.  Once he is comfortable with a medium whether it be pencils or chipotle sauce he feel comfortable to experiment and lose himself in his creation and in cooking for example he feels no need to follow a recipe or make precise measurements.

I stalked around the kitchen behind Nick as he worked and explained to taco enthusiasts Dave, Ryan and myself about what he was doing and how much longer we would have to wait.  We circled him like hungry sharks until he told us to grab our plates and started throwing freshly warmed tortillas onto them.

Now that we were finally ready, I filmed Nick presenting them to us :

These tacos were amazing.  All 3 of our judges were impressed.  Here are their responses  :

My personal favorite was the pork taco recipe.  The flavor was complex and constantly changing from initial bite to its after taste.  The orange juice certainly helped to bring out the tenderness and develop a unique flavor.  The chicken tacos were delicious as well.  When I say that the pork was my favorite, it was like choosing between two children.  The chicken had just the right amount of picante-ness so that it was spicy but at the same time it was sweet like candy.

The morale of this story is that when Nick asks you if you’d like to try his tacos, you say YESSSSS!  If you don’t have this luxury, stay tunes because I will post the recipes later this week.

4 stars out of 5.