As much as it pains me to say it, there are advantages to tacos.
I’m a devout burrito worshipper — I ate one for lunch today, actually, even though we’re talking all about tacos this week — for reasons I’ll explain shortly, but I have to admit that tacos have several superior qualities.
For one, they offer greater variety. We can choose corn or flour tortillas. I’m prone to overlooking this benefit as someone who always selects flour, the variant used for San Francisco-style, handheld burritos, but plenty of people prefer corn for taste or dietary reasons. Given that we’re talking about Mexico, whose country folk are sometimes called the “people of the corn,” the option is all the more important.
But tacos provide variety on a deeper level than just the hard or soft shells they arrive in — their size means you can make or order several, each with distinct ingredients, whereas a burrito requires a firm commitment each go-round[√]. Sometimes I want a carne asada, a fish and a nopalitos taco. I’ve tried tacos with octopus, with mac & cheese and a myriad of other ingredients that I wouldn’t put in a burrito. I’m not the type to ask for a lengua burrito, or one featuring any number of other less common meat cuts, but I’ll totally throw it on a taco.
The open-faced nature of tacos makes it much easier to add sauce, while you can find me squirting a smoky red sauce on my burrito every couple of bites. Sure, I could ask for the hot sauce to be added before the burrito is rolled, and can do so at home. But tacos allow you to adjust as you go, varying the sauces and spice level of each taco with ease.
Plus, if you’re someone like me who doesn’t particularly like cilantro but never remembers to ask for the kitchen to hold it, a taco is an easier vessel to adjust upon arrival.
I’m still a burrito man, though. I’m convinced they hold their temperature better, keeping the meat and ingredients warm inside that tinfoil wrap. They aren’t as leaky — some tacos need a good squeeze to drain some of the juices from the brisket or other components before raising to your face. And burritos typically contain a wider array of ingredients, including basics such as rice to rarer options such as sweet potato. Yes, you can technically put anything in a taco. But those little tortillas can only hold so much, and the vast majority of restaurants and trucks provide just a couple options.
Maybe instead of picking sides, we should celebrate the diversity of choices. After all, some of my favorite tacos around here come from Bandito Burrito food truck, an operation that clearly values the heftier alternative. And I similarly recommend the burritos at Taco Riendo 3.
I guess we can have our tacos and burritos… and eat them, too.