One of the most useful pieces of restaurant advice I've ever received came from an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) meeting I attended several years ago. The speaker said that if you were looking for the most authentic ethnic restaurants in town, you should go to the ones located in strip malls. And the uglier the strip mall, the better the food. I have tested out this theory on numerous occasions and found it to be true every time.
Last Friday night I ate at a Mexican restaurant here in Birmimgham called Gordo's. It had been recommended highly by several of my coworkers, and since it's located in a not-particularly-attractive strip mall near my home, I knew I couldn't go wrong. This place is becoming sort of well-known for it's tacos, which are more authentic than the kind you get at fast food restaurants. For example, you can get your taco with tripe or beef tongue, two of their specialties.
I'll have to admit, I was not quite that adventurous. However, one of my dining companions, a 10-year old boy, certainly had no qualms about ordering a beef tongue taco. I stayed safe with steak and chicken, both incredibly flavorful and wrapped in a really fresh corn tortilla. There's nothing else on the tacos when you get them, but there is a little "buffet" next to the serving line where you can add salsa (very hot salsa!) lime wedges, cilantro and a couple of other toppings. No lettuce, no tomatoes. No shredded cheese. Just the amazing flavor of the meat and the fresh corn tortilla with some tongue-tingling salsa on top. This is definitely the way to eat a taco. I'll be back tonight. Maybe I'll even try the tripe taco.
If you want to make tacos at home that resemble the ones at Gordo's, the Slow-Roasted Pork Tacos from Cooking Light seem pretty close. It's a simple recipe that shines because of the great flavor of the pork and the corn tortillas. I would recommend getting your tortillas at a Mexican market so you can be sure they are fresh. Don't forget the Mexican beer to make sure your meal is as authentic as possible. Let us know if you've got a great taco place in your town.