1. El Camino
Nestled right in the heart of a popular stretch of Bardstown Road resides one of the most happening new spots in the city. Sure, you could easily get lost in the ambiance, the tiki torches all over the place, or the eclectic artwork, but that’s not what’s going to blow your mind at this place. Sure, it’s nice to look at, but it’s the overall quality of the product that makes this one of the places you absolutely have to visit; especially those tenacious tacos…
Decisions, decisions… seriously, there are so many different choices when it comes to tacos. You can go with the savory deliciousness of either the Al Pastor, De Panza, or the Barbacoa tacos if you’re in the mood for fresh, meaty tacos. There are plenty of lighter options too, though. To start off with, there’s the Pescado Taco; complete with Grilled Tilapia and all kinds of veggie goodness. If grilled fish isn’t your thing, there’s always the option of getting it fried, and the Baja Fish Taco is absolute perfection, and you still get plenty of veggies, too. Oh, and if you really want to keep it fresh, go with the Kale Black Bean Taco. The spices bring the best out in the kale, and it’s perfect for any veggie-lover out there.
Let’s just put it this way: Make whatever choice you will, but you’re never going to go wrong. They’ve gone bold, and decided to make every one of their tortillas in-house, an they’ve never looked back. Since their creation, only about nine months ago, they’ve hand-made over 105,000 of them. Yeah, that’s pretty wild. The best news is that they have plenty of tequila-infused drinks to get you well on your way towards getting ripped. There were many choices, but we ultimately have to say that the Mexican Firing Squad, complete with house-made grenadine really was the best. Plus we go to try a preview of this beauty, their new taco: The Carnitas Taco. Yes, you should be jealous.
2. Ramiro’s Cantina
Talk about a place where you feel like you’re a part of the family. Ramiro’s is as authentic as it gets when it comes to Mexican cuisine. The owner has been at it since 1998; owning 12 different restaurants in that time span. You think that’s impressive? Then you’re going to love the fact that his mother, who prepared our tacos, has been cooking with the same, authentic recipe for the past 45 years. You could say she knows what’s up.
But just talking about how long she’s been making her scrumptious tacos won’t do them any justice. When we sat down to eat, we were amazed to see the variety and freshness of each homemade taco that she prepared. Featuring everything from a Short Rib Taco (they go through 300 lbs/week), a Shrimp Taco, and a Brisket Taco, there’s literally something for everyone to enjoy. If you go there on the right day, you’ll even get a chance to try her own, secret homemade Special Taco. Yes, it’s always worth asking to see if she’s in there. We recommend coming in the afternoon if you want to catch her.
A major contributor to enjoying a dining experience is feeling like you’re right at home, and you can tell that that’s what it’s all about at Ramiro’s. The tacos were so fresh, natural, and (forgive the corniness) made with love that we feel like our own mom was making this food. Only it was better! (Sorry mom…) For real, though, there’s something to be said about the atmosphere, and the fact that they won Best Margarita in the city last year doesn’t hurt, either. What more could you ask for?!
Why lie? It’s a little out of the way compared to everywhere else on this list. Let’s just go ahead and establish the fact that it’s well worth the trip; regardless of what part of town you’re coming from. Those people we mentioned that decided to mix a sangria with a margarita, yeah, that’s Gucamole, and that’s just the beginning of their adventures with tequila. Go in there on a Saturday night, pairing their delicious tacos with those drinks, and you’ll be on Cloud 9.
You have to respect a business that does their best to make as much in-house as possible to provide the authentic Mexican experience that most places fail to attain. Guacamole has risen to quick popularity for just that, though. Everyone we spoke to in the restaurant seemed to have their own opinion on a favorite, but, ultimately, we have to say that we loved their Fish Taco the most. Even the contrasting appearance was different than what we’d usually expect. Purple radishes garnished the top of the crunchy, fried cod below, and the mix of sensations was brilliant. We could tell that a lot of work went into the product.
While the Fish Taco definitely was everything we could ever ask for, there’s much more to this place than just the tacos. They have an extensive list of appetizers that you must try if you stop in, including Flautas that have a marmalade infused with chili peppers. We already told you about the loaded margs, and now you know they have some unbelievable tacos. So what are you waiting for? Get your ass over to Guacamole!
4. Taco Punk
Wow, it really doesn’t get any closer to fresh from the garden when it comes to Taco Punk, but that wasn’t the first thing that caught our eyes. The place is just so artistic and eccentric that you literally have to stop in when you walk past. Giant, sculpted skeletons hang from all over the wall, they have a giant, colorful courtyard, and artwork covers parts of the wall. It’s quite a bit to take in when you first walk in, but it really sets the mood for your dining experience.
When they say fresh, they mean it. Literally everything is locally-sourced; right down to the beef. In fact, you could tell that the owner took pride in that fact, because it was literally the first thing that he mentioned. It turns out that they get their beef from right down the road at Marksbury Farm. So it came as no surprise when we could taste the difference when we took our first bite into their Carne Asada Taco. The juicy, fresh meat seemed to just melt in our mouths, and the Fish Taco complemented it perfectly. The Surf N Turf Platter is the must-buy when you go in.
The freshness doesn’t just stop at the tacos. They make their in-house guacamole every day, and you can taste the freshness in every scoop; completed by their fresh, colorful chips. We found out that the name of the place came from the owner’s son calling him a “Taco Punk,” and you know what: these tacos are kind of rebellious in their own way. They stick to natural ways, like other places, but, oh wait, they actually do it. We’ll be coming back if this is what being rebellious feels like. We feel so alive!
5. Wild Ritas
We’re wild about Wild Ritas! We can say that it probably has a lot to do with their chef, who prepares each taco both craft-fully and efficiently. All you have to do is look at the tacos to believe that they’re each a work of art in themselves. They’re all garnished perfectly, piled high with all-natural, locally-sourced ingredients. There are plenty of classic ingredients piled on there, but it truly was the extra stuff that made the tacos feel that much more wholesome and completed.
You have one hell of a choice to make when you come here. Do you choose the meaty deliciousness of the Al Pastor, topped with Pineapple Salsa? The all-too-fulfilling Panza; topped with pickled jalepenos? The answer is that: yes. Our personal favorite was definitely the Panza, but with four other choices on their menu alongside the ones we mentioned above; you have all the choices in the world, and literally every one of them will never let you down.
They take their sh*t seriously at Wild Ritas, and it’s made clear in every little action that they take. The tacos are a work of art, the glass-blown artwork from the ceiling, and the dim lighting all set the mood for what’s about to be your next perfect night out. Don’t be afraid to go up to the bar, either, because their bartenders know their way around crafting the perfect cocktail for any occasion. Yes, we’ll be back. Very, very soon.
6. Holy Mole
Sometimes you just want your tacos to come right to you! Well, your prayers have been answered with Holy Mole, who decided to take their Taco Truck all around town to help feed your craving for tacos. They definitely take the time to appease everyone in their line, too, despite the fact that they’re still both affordable and quick in their service. Essentially, it’s like a fast food taco that’s high-quality.
While the Soft Shell Crab Taco is seasonal-only, we’re seriously in love with it. The next time they have it in stock (you can find out by following them on Facebook and Twitter), you have to get to them while you can, but they’re worth the wait for the time being. Until then, the Fried Fish Taco is exactly what the doctor ordered. The interesting part is that they actually use Catfish instead of the boring fish that everyone else serves up, and it really does make a difference.
What’s there not to love about Food Trucks as it is? Holy Mole is no exception to that love, because they really are dedicated to bringing fresh, high-quality tacos as close to you as possible. They’ve even recently made the wonderful addition of Ale 8 to their menu, and everyone knows that no meal is complete without it. Seriously, though, find out where they’re going to be next. You won’t regret it.
7. Manny & Merle
What a happy hour! You’re not going to find a better one downtown, as you’ll get their Mannyrita 1/2 off between the hours of 3-7PM. If margs aren’t your thing, though, you can still load up on their Dos Equis on draft for $2.50, too. Oh, and their lunch specials are also killer. You can get any two of their tacos for only $6 during their lunch hour, and you’re not going to find a better deal that close to the heart of downtown.
If you’re looking for something different on your quest for the perfect taco, you won’t find anything better than the Green Chili Pork Taco. They top it with Garlic Crema, Jalepenos, Red & Green Peppers, and mix them all into a jam before throwing on the cilantro and onions. Yeah, it’s wild, but the mix of the spiciness and sweetness was exactly what we hoping for when we first saw it.
You literally can’t beat the deals. They always have $3 shots of tequila, $3 pints of PBR, and pretty much everything else is reasonably priced. When you come in for dinner, you have to add on the Chicken Nacho before the tacos, because it sets the mood for the amazingness that you’re about to experience. They may not be open Sunday nor Monday, but you can (and should) come in here every day of the week for a whole week for every one of the items on the menus.
8. El Taco Luchador
You always have to love a friendly staff, and we swear that every member of the staff seemed to be both upbeat and smiling the entire time. If that wasn’t enough, the whole place seemed to follow the theme of a Mexican wrestler all throughout the restaurant. Mexican wrestling masks and cartoonish drawings caught our eyes immediately, and added to how fun the restaurant already seemed.
It’s all about the Mole Sauce here, and they put that sh*t on everything. They make it in-house every day, so it’s only fitting that we say that the Mole Taco is the one you have to try when you come in. In case you didn’t know what “mole” was, it’s pretty much just a badass sauce that comes from a blend of different spices, and it’s the perfect blend of sweetness. It’s certainly a little different than the spiciness that many would attribute to tacos, but you have to give it a try. Life is about variety, after all!
We did find out that this place was owned by the same owner as Gucamole, but the owner definitely does a hell of a job at mixing it up when it comes to different styles. We don’t know what her exact formula is for making everything so successful, but we do know that the foundation revolves around friendly staff and their tacos. With nine different tacos on their menu, we can’t wait to come back and try more.
9. El Mundo
You can tell that El Mundo has a passion for doing it right as soon as you walk in. Not only that, but it’s a great place for an on-the-go lunch if you don’t want to break the bank. They have the sweet deal of a $7.95 fish taco, and the fish was both juicy and fresh. It also comes along with mixed greens, beans, rice, Chipotle Aioli, and Fruit Salsa; making this the balanced meal that you need to give you energy for the rest of the day.
We would talk more about their tacos, but you really don’t have to look too far beyond their Fish Taco. It’s fresh, quality, and doesn’t cost an assload of money. They also sell Victoria, the oldest beer brewed in Mexico, and have a cozy vibe for a cheap date night. It was the perfect place to round off our Tour De Taco!
Did we miss your favorite place? Feel free to share your personal favorite by commenting below!