When I think back to my childhood, I remember there were certain restaurants where my parents refused to take me. I thought these were really special places because I was only able to go to if my friends and their parents invited me. I used to think it was because those restaurants were too fancy for our family, but as I got older and started to understand the concept of fast food, I realized it probably wasn’t that. When I moved to Colorado when I was 12, my friend introduced me to Taco Bell. I’m pretty sure my only exposure to Mexican food up to that point was the hard shell tacos they served in the school cafeteria– not the best ambassador for Mexican food. Taco Bell was my first enjoyable experience with “Mexican food.” I remember the soft flour tortilla with ground beef, shredded cheddar, and the hot sauce that will polish a penny to perfection; and with a little shredded lettuce to add a light, crisp freshness to the taco, I had discovered something totally inspiring. This was my first flour tortilla and the first time I had ever seen a spork! Now this made eating fun and exciting! I couldn’t wait to spill pieces of the taco onto my plate so I could conveniently scoop them up with the spork. Looking back, it’s funny to notice how oblivious I was to the impact tacos would someday have on my life, not to mention the lack of influence a spork would have on me in my future. As I got older and started to acquire a more “sophisticated palate,” I discovered that these tacos are– wait a minute, did I actually like these?
Years later, after having eaten real Mexican tacos, I can’t help but laugh at what once excited my taste buds. It was interesting to observe that many of the menus we saw in Tulum/Playa have something on the menu called “Gringo Tacos.” These are simply the same taco but with cheese and flour tortillas, and I’m sure they are equally delicious. I mentioned in the past that if a burger tastes great without cheese, I know it is truly a quality burger. Same goes for tacos!
For years I stopped eating tacos, sticking to burritos and fajitas because I couldn’t bear to eat a corn tortilla. Since my dietary restrictions led me to give up flour, I have grown to prefer corn and have become obsessed with tacos. I’ve discovered that they are the perfect food for me. I don’t necessarily think real tacos top the list of sophisticated fare, and sometimes I simply enjoy simple food. Just imagine a flawless corn tortilla that doesn’t crumble when you pick it up. Next, imagine this perfect tortilla filled with delicious grilled steak or chicken. Add a lively salsa or pico de gallo and fresh guacamole, and there you have it: straightforward, tasty food that doesn’t need to be disguised!
Our first night in Tulum we couldn’t wait to go back to Taqueria Diaz for dinner. We had totally idealized this place from a trip a few years earlier. I was even a little nervous– would reality live up to my memory? We eagerly set out for the taqueria, but a local suggested that we go to El Asadero insisting it was the best place in town for tacos. In the spirit of trying something new, we gave it a shot.
Wow, what a great place! The owners were so hospitable and friendly, and the tacos were fantastic. They had an avocado and tomatillo salsa that was perfect. With the salsa, we didn’t even need guacamole. We were able to get any combination of 3 tacos, so we went for the jackpot: 1 of each! One arracherra (steak,) one pollo (chicken,) and one chorizo (sausage.) Each one was better than the next. For a person who likes to put labels on things and find a favorite, I couldn’t choose a winner.
I felt so welcome (maybe it was the Christmas tree,) and appreciated in this restaurant, that I felt like an old friend! It was clean too! They don’t have liquor license yet, but they say they are working on it. As you can see from the photo, the grill is out in the open, so while there you can see for yourself how fresh the food is. That said, I suggest you go see it for yourself! You will not be disappointed.
Even after a delightful meal here, I still had glorified memories of Taqueria Diaz, and I couldn’t wait to try it the next night. I was secretly hoping Diaz would be better, not because I didn’t like Asadero, but because I only imagined how amazing their tacos would be if they were even better than these!