In preparation for National Taco Day two of the Courier-Journal’s most taco-crazed writers set out on a flavorful adventure. Over the course of 1 1/2 years, Danielle Lerner and Justin Sayers sampled taco joins around Louisville. Here are their top picks!
Bobby Shipman/Courier-Journal/USA TODAY Network
In honor of National Taco Day, two Courier-Journal reporters take you deep inside their tortilla-wrapped obsession. They’ve been working on this story for almost a full year, so please take this seriously, you guys.
In a galaxy far, far away – you Louisvillians may have heard of California – we, Danielle Lerner and Justin Sayers, developed a refined taste for tacos.
Our lives took us from the separate ends of the Golden State to college in Missouri and Arizona, respectively, before our paths collided here in Derby City.
Throughout our journeys, one thing persisted – an insatiable love for tacos. That love has culminated in a 1½-year quest to find the best tacos in Louisville.
We’ve heard the rumors that we moved to one of the most diverse food cities in the country, so we set out to find out for ourselves.
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For the readers’ benefit, we’ve tried everything – no queremos Taco Bell – and kept it in a spreadsheet to create a ranking based on the restaurants’ tacos, sides, chips and salsa.
No, seriously. A spreadsheet.
In honor of National Taco Day, we release our seven best spots exclusively for you:
1. Bandido Taqueria Mexicana
Address: 423 University Boulevard Facebook: facebook.com/BandidoTaqueriaMexicana
Justin: “Of all the taco places we’ve been to, this is the one that reminds me most of home. The street tacos are pretty hard to beat. And if you’re not a taco fan, the Cardinal burrito, which essentially is a California burrito, is pretty amazing. The price is great, too.”
Danielle: “Salsa bar. Mic drop.”
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2. La Rosita
Address: 5059 Preston Highway
Justin: “Hands down, the best carne asada in the city.”
Danielle: “Incredibly tender tacos in the setting of an authentic Mexican grocery store complete with a butchery and bakery. The corn tortillas remind me of the ones I get in from my favorite hole-in-the-wall places in San Francisco.”
3. El Barrio – a tequila and whiskey bar
Address: 129 W. Main Street
Justin: “Not only are the tacos good, the rice, salsa and chips are excellent as well. I hesitate to call this a taco place because it’s a full meal.”
Danielle: “One of the best vegetarian tacos I’ve ever had. Plus, the $9 lunch special (two tacos with rice or beans) is hard to beat.”
4. El Molcajete
Address: 2932 S. 4th St.
Justin: “I liked the chicken, but didn’t love the steak. But the salsas – and they have a big variety of them – made me love both.”
Danielle: “The highest-ranked salsa on our list – smoky and with decent heat. Located down the street from Churchill Downs, this is the spot I just had to hit up after a late night at Oaks. Besides carne asada and lengua, El Mocajete offers more adventurous options like brains and stomach.”
5. Wild Rita’s
Address: 445 E. Market St.
Justin: “I’ll admit, I wasn’t too optimistic about our chances heading into the restaurant. But I walked out happy I was wrong. The skirt steak was cooked perfectly, while I was a huge fan of the salsa verde on the chicken taco.”
Danielle: “There is some quality variance between the chicken, fish and beef tacos, but overall very good. Depending which filling you choose, you get different toppings: cabbage slaw, pico de gallo or an avocado crema. It’s a nice change of pace from the traditional cilantro and onions.”
6. MexA Steak Tacos
Address: 3701 Lexington Road, #1
Justin: “MexA primarily does steak tacos, but man, do they do it well. By this point, I think I’ve tried every taco on that menu and I haven’t been disappointed. They were hurt on this ranking by their lack of options.”
Danielle: “Despite primarily offering steak tacos, MexA makes up for it with a myriad of options from different regions of Mexico. The Poblano, with poblano peppers and queso fresco, is my favorite.”
Address: 2222 Dundee Road
Justin: “I’m not embarrassed to say that I couldn’t handle all the flavors of the sweet potato taco – it was pretty overwhelming. I usually hate food-fusion-type places but this place may have changed my mind.”
Danielle: “Forget what Guy Fieri says, this is Flavortown. At times it was almost too much marinade. The bold colors and sauces make Migo a unique experience, but it was definitely the try-hard of our list.”
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