Tan Vinh, a food writer for the Seattle Times, has been busy: He’s eaten at 500 Western Washington taco stands, restaurants, and food trucks over the past six months, and on Saturday dropped a humdinger of a list of the region’s best tacos.
The whole article is worth reading for its thoroughness and thoughtfullness. One key point: “The pandemic essentially shut down our late-night dining scene, and many restaurants don’t even bother opening on Mondays and Tuesdays anymore,” Vinh writes. “Taquerias are heroes that fill those voids.”
But look, whenever anyone reads a list they’re always skipping ahead to the top spot, and we’ll give it away here: The best taco, according to the Times, is the chicharron taco at Taco Tecalitlan in Burlington, Skagit County. We’ll admit we haven’t had it, but it sounds delicious in its simplicity: It’s just crispy and fatty pork, onion, and cilantro nestled in a tortilla. And it’s only $2, an ideal price point for a taco. The common understanding of tacos is that they should be cheap, delicious, and quick to both prepare and eat, and maybe part of Vinh’s reason for highlighting Taco Tecalitlan is that it fulfills all those requirements.
Vinh’s Seattle-area favorites include the weekend-only lamb tacos at La Conasupo Taqueria and Snack Shop, a gem inside a Greenwood grocery store that serves satisfyingly inexpensive and meaty options. But the list also features the brisket suadero taco at Pancita at Pair, a Bryant pop-up from chef Janet Becerra, who worked at Mexico City’s famed restaurant Pujol. Becerra’s hand-grinds heirloom red corn to make the tortillas and cures her brisket for two days — this is an upscale taco, and it costs $11. Other high-end tacos Vinh shouts out include Gracia’s Oaxacan-style brisket barbacoa joints ($6.50) and the beef rib tacos Jack’s BBQ in Sodo, which come in at $7.
It’s exciting that chefs are looking at tacos as canvasses for genuine culinary innovation, and it’s great that so many restaurants are making their tortillas from scratch, like Pike Place’s Maiz (which didn’t make Vinh’s list). But so much food in Seattle has been “elevated” in recent years (with price points to match) that it’s important that at least some of the tacos around here remain affordable. Maybe the city can designate La Conasupo a historic landmark?