4 min read

Taqueria Etiquette

Team Taco™ & Friends! Welcome to the final installment of June! We’re halfway through this wonderful journey. (Can I call it that? I don’t know. Will I? Absolutely!)

Non-paying friends — as a reminder, the $2/month Team Taco™ Membership tier is a disappearing at the end of the month. This is basically like a sale, since we’re halfway through the year. Get your Team Taco Membership for $12 instead of $24! I guess.

Next month! A new thing is coming! Another opportunity for me to ask for your money! With more emails from me to you! What a time to be alive. Emails and words. Just so many emails and words.

Taqueria Etiquette

Mexican food has always been my favorite cuisine. At this point, it’s safe to say it’s a lifelong obsession. Growing up in Idaho exposed me to so much incredible Mexican food from birth. In high school, as soon as I got my license, I started sampling every Mexican restaurant within 10 miles of my house. Once I tried all those, I expanded the window to 20 miles. 30 miles. 50. 100.

The majority of the Mexican restaurants I encountered were Tex-Mex. They weren't authentic, but they were great! I loved discovering my favorite enchiladas at a place 90 minutes down the road, or the best green salsa a 40-minute drive away. If you nailed the timing, you’d get the entire place to yourself, and you’d be able to get a liter of salsa to go. Shoutout to the place with the terrible food, but that would bring the salsa in it's own pitcher to the table. The literal dream.

Now whenever I move somewhere new, I do the same thing. Find all the Mexican restaurants. Try them all. Remember my favorites. Rinse, repeat. Traveling somewhere for more than a week? Best believe I’m doing it again. This is how I had the worst burrito of my life in Niagara Falls, Canada. (The chicken burrito had one piece of chicken and one piece of steak.) Or a surprisingly passable burrito bowl in the Austrian Alps. Or why I cried a little when my favorite/only taqueria in Amsterdam closed. Or why I’ve eaten at Chipotle in Paris. Twice.

Now that we live in Mexico, almost every meal I eat out is at a Mexican restaurant. Truly blessed.

Thanks to these experiences, I’ve developed a few guidelines I follow every time I eat at a taqueria or while having antojitos (street snacks). From me to you, here they are. I hope they help you become the taqueria patron we all strive to be.

Go Fast or Go Elsewhere

Taquerias exist to turn over as many tables and sling as many tacos as possible. Be prepared to sit down, eat your food, and leave. On that same note…

Know Your Order

Sure, sometimes there are things on the menu you haven’t seen – like panuchos or salbutes. That’s fine. But most of the time, you know what you want. You don’t need to read the menu for 15 minutes. Are you a chicken person everywhere else? Cool, get the pollo tacos!

If you’re going to try everything within your area, it’s also a good idea to try the same dish across all the restaurants. (I picked up that trick from Johnny Depp’s psychopathic character in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It was playing nonstop on a movie channel on a cruise we went on when I was 14 or 15. I got food poisoning and stayed in bed for like 36 hours straight. And watched it 900 times. I don’t recommend it.)

Don’t Shoot the Cook

I don’t want to harp on this, but Johnny Depp shoots the wrong guy. Cochinita pibil is slow-cooked in a buried oven overnight and then dropped off at the kitchen. So the cook in the kitchen isn’t the guy who made the actual meal, just the guy who plated it. Also those chef outfits! God. What a terrible movie. Early aughts cinema was the worst.

Pay Attention to Others

If you order a second drink after you’ve finished your food and others are waiting for a table, you’re an asshole. Full stop. Don’t be that person. You deserve better – and so do the people waiting for a spot.

Be Kind

If you ever get frustrated by the wait, do not take it out on the staff. They want to get your tacos to you as quickly as they can.

Don’t Take Your Beer Bottles with You

This is a Mexico-specific one, but leave your beer (or soda) bottles on the table. The taqueria definitely gets a deal because they return the bottles, and you’re costing them money on the drink if you take the bottle with you because you were too lazy to just finish it at the table. Dick move, yo.

Salsa Time

If there’s a salsa bar, only take the amount of salsa you need. If you’re not sure, take a little less and go back for more. If you want to take more time while looking at the salsas and deciding which one you want, step aside, and the let person behind you go. (But also you’ve made it this far – you know your preferred salsas.)

If they bring the little containers of salsa to your table, wonderful! DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FOOD WITH THE SALSA SPOON. Vegetarians need salsa too, and no one wants your al pastor juices all over the spoon.

Oh, god, also don’t touch the communal salsas with your hands. I still think about this sleezeball of a man who poked the salsa, licked his finger, went back for more, and tried to physically fight me when I backed up HIS GIRLFRIEND saying it was gross to touch the communal salsas with his hands.

Don’t Date Sleezeballs

Seriously. You’re better than that. You deserve to have your needs met, and one of your needs is to not date someone who doesn’t think about other people. It’s 2021. You’re hot. I promise. Are they in therapy? People trying to improve themselves don't touch the communal salsa with their fingers. HOT STUFF.

Taquerias Make for Wonderful Dates

Speaking of how hot you are, taking someone to get tacos is an incredible first, second, or 725th date. Please judge them based on how well they follow these arbitrary rules we’ve made up together! If they touch a salsa, leave them.

TACO TOTAL — 1158/2021

This Week’s Taco Total — 56
June Taco Total — 158

Earlier today, I had the best taco I’ve had all year, and it came right when I needed it. Brought me some joy after a rough month of feeling like a duffle bag of shit.