Growing up in the Delta during the 1970s and 80s, the tacos I knew came out of a bright yellow Old El Paso box. My mom served them with iceberg lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. My friend's mom was from Texas, so she added exotic ingredients like avocados and refried beans. Tacos were reserved for summer weekends and (inexplicably) Halloween.
I think my first restaurant taco was at an Italian steakhouse in Lake Village called The Cow Pen that also served Tex-Mex. The tacos were a lot like the ones at home, but the meal came with this aluminum Lazy Susan bowl thing filled with queso, salsa and bean dip and a scoop of pineapple sherbet for dessert. It would be another twenty years before I would discover authentic tacos.
Thankfully, tacos are now pretty ubiquitous in Jackson, and why wouldn't they be? Tacos are fast, filling and fun. They won’t cost you a bundle. They are as complex or as simple as your whims demand, and if you tire of one, there are fifty others to take its place.
And while Jackson may be far from Mexico, you can take a little trip south of the border on this Taco Tour – I ate twenty-eight tacos in four days, so you don't have to. Take your time and meander our Asada Avenue/Jaritos Highway at these tasty taco destinations. If your favorite didn't make the list, I'd love to taco about it!
6270 Old Canton Rd
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. & Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Type: Asada, Pollo, Carnitas, Barbacoa
Price: $8 for 4 tacos
Blink and you might miss the little shopping center where this family-owned joint is located. Locals may remember the location from the glory days of Time Out. Here the chopped, crispy asada, pollo, carnitas and barbacoa are savory, flavorful and served on a corn tortilla with a side of grilled onions. The tortillas in these street-style tacos are soft and divine. Hit up the toppings bar for house-made pico de gallo and sauces plus fresh cilantro, onions and limes. Definitely ask for avocado. Not in the mood for tacos? The fajitas are FINE, and they come with spicy refried beans that are the best in town!
Carniceria Valdez & Taqueria
6530 Old Canton Road
Sunday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Type:Asada, Pollo, Pastor
Taqueria Valdez is located inside a bright, large, well-stocked Latin grocery store and meat market. Walk up to the counter and place your order. English isn't the first language here, so brush up on your Spanish or kindly point to what you want on the menu. The tacos here are served on corn tortillas and topped to your specifications. I ordered cilantro and onion with avocado. The onions were buttery and grilled. The steak/asada was perfectly spiced and tender, as was the pollo. The pork pastor was spicy and a little sweet from pineapple. Valdez has a terrific toppings bar with homemade sauces, fresh vegetables and pico de gallo, plus these tasty, super spicy pickled onions. Don't want a taco? Definitely order from the cafeteria-style plate lunch! There are always several meat dishes like chicken verde or red chile pork. Your picks come with beans, rice, a drink and a stack of fresh tortillas for $10.
Next week we’ll feature two more stops on the PORTICO Taco Trail, so stay tuned!