Ah, the taco. It can range from classic, with some chicken, cheese, lettuce, cilantro and onions, to absolutely extravagant – pulled pork, mac and cheese, fried onions. There’s plenty of places in North Carolina to savor a wide range of tacos and we’re releasing this list just in time for Taco Tuesday!
1. Crafted, Greensboro
Crafted's slogan - "The Art of the Taco" - is certainly no lie. From simple to extravagant they've perfected a healthy balance of both. This downtown Greensboro establishment has expanded to Winston-Salem, but if it's your first time visiting, the best way to get the full experience is visiting the original location. Crowd favorites include The Big Truck (pulled pork, mac and cheese, tobacco onions, scallions and bacon BBQ sauce). The Fedora (blackened seared rare tuna, kimchi, garlic and pineapple aioli, and topped with scallions), and The Bowtie (fried fish, roasted corn, poblano salsa, honey mustard, and sweet chipotle aioli). Doing a 'mix 2' lets you sample some serious flavor.
2. White Duck Taco Shop, Asheville
The best part about White Duck Taco is that it's extremely tasty while being extremely affordable. Each taco is prices a la' carte, meaning you'll pay anywhere from $3-$5, making the choice to get two or three not too hard. The hard part, of course, is choosing which ones to try! There's the signature mole roasted duck, there's a vegetarian option of mushroom and potato, and of course chicken, steak and pork. Keep an eye on the specials menu to try some extremely inventive taco options.
3. Three Amigos, Charlotte
While the first two covered the 'extravagant' section, Three Amigos keeps it simple, serving authentic central American tacos with just the right toppings (when you have to ask for cheese to be added, you know it's real). While the chicken is classic, try the Tacos Al Pastor -pPork marinated in guajillo chile & onion sauce, grilled with pineapple served on corn tortillas, with onion, cilantro & fresh squeezed lime. If you're wanting to veer away from tacos, the enchiladas verde and chimichanga are out of this world.
4. I Got Your Crabs, Kitty Hawk
Fish tacos can be hard to master, but the best way to ensure you're getting a good one is going straight to the source: a restaurant beside the ocean. Located in Kitty Hawk, this is more than just a seafood mecca (seriously, everything here is delicious) but is also hiding some of the best fish tacos in North Carolina. Try the pick two - crab cake, flounder, shrimp etc. - and there's no shame in starting off the meal with some crab nachos.
5. Totopos Street Food & Tequila, Cary
Part ambiance and part delicious tacos, Totopos is an elevated dining experience with authentic yet inventive dishes. The tacos are served in blue corn tortillas with the chicken tingas as a real showstopper. For something unique, try the Mexico City-Style Quesadillas which include three corn masa turnovers, chicharron, poblano pepper and chicken tinga.
6. Coyote Kitchen, Boone
This hidden gem caters to more than just hungry college students but High Country locals looking for a unique twist on traditional Latin American cuisine. With an infusion of Caribbean roots, the 'boats' might be among the most popular (and of course, worth a try) but among the elaborate menu don't skip by the tacos. There's a tempeh taco served with chipotle cream cheese, button mushrooms, caramelized onions, tomatoes, jack cheese and scallions - yum! There's also the unique kobe beef taco topped with jalapeño cream cheese, roasted red peppers, onions, sweet corn and jack cheese. If you're wanting a little taste of the island life, there's a jerk chicken taco as well. Pro tip: go with a group, order a few various items off the menu (including a boat) and split them all to get a taste of everything.
7. Tacos Oaxaca, Lillington
This adorable, low-key storefront is hiding some of the best street food style tacos in North Carolina. When they're corn tortillas, topped with fresh chopped cilantro and onions (served with lime on the side) you know you're as close to authentic as you can get. Besides a variety of delicious tacos (asada chorizo, and pollo) there's also 'Mexican Burgers,' a whole 'A.C.P' section and a variety of chimichangas. Safe to say, it's a place to come dine at time and time again.
8. Nanataco, Durham
For an Instagram-worthy taco spread, Nanataco is the place to go. The casual, airy eatery is the perfect place to sip some of their $5-dollar margaritas and sampling a bit of everything with their 'Taco X 3' option - a choice of three meats topped with lettuce and pico. There's also the 'Dirty Meats,' which include crispy chicken liver, house smoked duck, local pork belly, hog jowls or beef tongue. While Nanataco certainly fits in with the vibrant, eclectic vibe of Durham, it's still an approachable establishment perfect for a quick snack or entire meal.
Well, I’m officially ready for Taco Tuesday…now I just have to decide which one to pick! What are some of your favorite taco places in North Carolina?