Grilled Brunkow Cheese Tacos at Takito Kitchen
Though not exactly loaded with vegetables, this offering from Takito Kitchen does feature Brunkow cheese, which is a staple at most local farmers' markets. (You know, the stand with the free grilled cheese cubes on toothpicks.) Along with the block of lightly browned and gooey cheese is a smoky morita salsa, sweet rhubarb chutney, crunchy chayote, and, probably to make you feel better, some slices of kale. As is always the case here, the tortilla is fluffy and light, adding just a hint of corn flavor.
Aguacate Tacos at Masa Azul ($9 for three)
Tempura fried avocado?! This is easily the most unusual pick of the bunch, and the one I was the most worried about. Wouldn't the avocado slices become bitter and turn to mush? But like just about everything I've tried on chef Jonathan Zaragoza's menu, it somehow works. Each slice is only lightly fried, leaving them with a paper-thin crust that is crackly. It's sort of like eating guacamole and chips in one go, though not exactly. Honestly, comparisons are hard to come by, because I've never had anything quite like it.
Grits & Kale Taco at Bullhead Cantina ($3)
While the sweet potato tacos at Bullhead Cantina are genuinely great, I've already written about them a few dozen times. As well, there are other veggie tacos worth celebrating. My current favorite is the grits and kale taco, which is creamy, crunchy, and way better than it has any right to be.
Rajas de Poblano with Corn Taco at La Lagartija
It's hard to go wrong with any of the options at La Lagartija, but I always make sure to order one of these rajas tacos, which feature thick slices of poblanos. But what sets this version apart is the addition of sweet and crunchy corn. Each pop offsets the spice from the poblanos, making you feel comfortable about digging in for more.
Rice and Bean Taco at El Milagro
It's hard to think of any taco quite as cheap and filling as the grilled steak taco at El Milagro. Loaded down with rice, beans, cabbage, and a huge sheet of grilled steak, it's a meal in itself. But if you want to be slightly more reasonable, and completely vegetarian, skip the steak, and go for the rice and bean taco, which is still gargantuan.
Market Mushroom Tacos at Antique Taco ($7 for two)
The market mushroom tacos have been a fixture on Antique Taco's menu since the beginning, but as the name implies, they change with the season. Currently they are topped with arugula, pumpkin seeds, and purple onion, but on my last visit they featured garlicky kale, pickled red onions, and cauliflower. Regardless of the iteration, the sautéed mushrooms in the middle are the real stars—plump, juicy, and slightly smoky.
Papas con Rajas Tacos at Big Star ($3)
"Rajas are simply chiles that have been roasted and then cut into strips. Usually, the chile is the poblano, but for this taco Big Star uses chipotles, which lend a smoky complexity to each bite. Though moderately spicy, they are tempered by cubes of potatoes. It's hard to properly explain why it all works. This is just one great taco." Read more here >>
'Colorful' Taquitos de Papa at DeColores ($6.95 for four)
"Only a restaurant that doubles as an art gallery could kick out taquitos de papa as simply gorgeous as these. I mean, taquitos de papa are just corn tortillas stuffed with mashed potatoes that are folded over and fried. Don't get me wrong; I happen to love them. But at DeColores in Pilsen, they are listed on the menu as "colorful taquitas," and that's no joke." Read more here >>
Potato Tacos at Carniceria Jimenez ($3.49)
"I dine at this grocery store taqueria frequently, and my favorite thing to order, by far, is the potato taco special ($3.49). Corn tortillas are stuffed with coarsely mashed potatoes, and then fried to order. When done, those tortillas become crackly and crisp, providing an ideal contrast to the creamy potatoes. You get three tacos with every order, and together they make for one of the most satisfying cheap lunches in the city." Read more here >>
Hongos Tacos at Mercadito ($10.50)
"Piled atop a trio of fresh tortillas are juicy, smoky mushrooms (a.k.a.hongos) tossed in a citrusy, black-beany sauce, bright and tangy minced pickled onion, salsa verde, huitlacoche, and crispy manchego cheese." Read more here >>
Vegan Lentil Taco Platter at Nana ($15)
"The dish is pretty robust—it features grilled pineapple salsa, black beans, white rice, guacamole, lime cabbage slaw with strawberries and hot peppers, and a trio of doubled-up tortillas cradling black lentils and onions--but no one ingredient is going to weigh you down afterward." Read more here >>