This piece originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.
Ignoring, for a moment, the plush biscuit taco from a certain fast food chain that dominated the internet this spring, it’s a marvel how much Americans love tacos. The hashtag #tacotuesday continues to trend wildly, and we show no slowing in our desire to talk about and consume tacos.
These days, chefs are going beyond the classic Mexican toppings of cilantro, minced onion, and lime. And although certainly some popular south-of-the-border meats push diners out of their comfort zones —lengua (tongue) and tripitas (tripe) among them—there are even more extraordinary options afoot. Here are seven worth your attention.
Leave it to Vegas to concoct the $78 taco. At Rose. Rabbit. Lie in the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, potato-shell tacos are filled with Hamachi and golden Osetra caviar… for a steep price. Want to try a less expensive caviar on your taco? You can try one with Hackleback caviar for a mere $15 a pop.
© Aurora Photos / Alamy Stock Photo
Chapulines (Grasshopper) Tacos
Enormously popular in parts of Mexico, where baskets of grasshoppers line open-air markets and street vendors sell them as snacks, chapulines are starting to see a boom in popularity stateside. Los Angeles in particular has many restaurants that feature the crunchy critters in tacos, including Guelaguetza. (Tip: If you don’t see them on the menu, you can always ask; at some restaurants, they’re off-menu specials.)
Shredded Bison Tacos
The trend in locally sourced regional cooking means that smart restaurateurs are taking what they know—in this case, Colorado’s bison—and putting it in a taco shell.Tocabe considers its food a “new and unique take on American Indian cuisine,” and serve an “Indian taco” with a flash-fried flour dough base called “fry bread.” You can top it with whatever meat you like—chicken, beef, or bison—but we’d suggest the shredded bison, which benefits from a seven-spice dry rub, a slow roast overnight, and an adobe marinade.
At Boca Tacos y Tequila, the regular menu looks unassuming enough—carnitas here,carne asada there—but if you swing by the Tucson, Arizona spot on a Wednesday, you’re there on special taco day, and thus might be able to order a python, emu, wild boar, or venison taco—just a few of the recent offerings.
Ashley Bartoletti Photography
Alligator Tail Tacos
This falls squarely into the category of “beasts we wouldn’t wish to offend, and therefore probably won’t eat.” At Gulliftys in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, tacos lookinnocuous enough (sweet peppers, onions, cabbage, lemon caper remoulade, and a flour tortilla), but those ingredients are stacked right next to the tail of a gator.
Milbet Del Cid / Puchica Guatemalan Bar and Grill
Hot Dog Tacos
Can’t decide on a snack? Conflicted on hot dog versus taco? Don’t worry; there’s arestaurant for that. It’s called Puchica Guatemalan Bar & Grill, and it’s in L.A. The legend behind los shucos—“dirty” dogs—traces to Guatemala City, when vendors started hawking American hot dogs topped with avocado and cabbage. Demand grew, and shucos spread to Los Angeles and San Francisco, among other places. At Puchica, order a “mixta,” and all the wild ingredients of a shuco—mayo, ketchup, mustard,guacamole, split hot dogs, and sauerkraut—come nestled in a tortilla. All for the bargain price of $6.50.