How to Make an Epic Street Taco Feast in Three Simple Steps
Food Truck Flavor Comes Home
Whether you’re getting them from a local food truck or dining al fresco on the back deck during a cool summer evening, there’s no doubt that street tacos are one of the finest summer meals you can eat. Because not only are they fun to eat – they also tend to pack in fresh flavor and seasonal ingredients. And that means they’re best enjoyed when summer produce is at its peak.
Making a truly epic taco at home can be intimidating, though. From all the sauces and salsas and toppings to getting the ingredients exactly right, a lot goes into building the perfect Mexican-inspired bite. But with a little planning and this handy three-part guide, you can be serving street tacos worthy of food truck fame in no time.
Step 1: Steak your claim to the right protein
Technically, almost any traditional steak cut can work in tacos. And slow-cooked brisket is always delicious. But a few factors make one cut perfect for taco night: tri-tip.
For starters, tri-tip is practical and affordable. Most grocery stores offer it for less than $10 per pound, and a typical 2- to3-pound roast is enough to feed the whole family. But the core of this cut’s fit for tacos really comes from taste. Tri-tip comes from the sirloin, which means it’s relatively lean and contains lots of rich, beefy flavor.
In terms of flavor, you can get just as fancy as you want with spice rubs or marinades. But we have to say a Morton’s Steakhouse Classic Tri-Tip produces crowd-pleasing flavor right out of the package, and it makes cooking easy whether you’re looking to grill, smoke or roast it. (You can find cooking instructions for all three over on the tri-tip page one our website.)
For tacos, a little smoke and char from the grill is probably the ideal way to go, so let’s talk about how to grill this great cut of beef:
- Preheat the grill to approximately 400oF-450oF.
- Remove tri-tip from packaging and place on a hot grill with fat side up.
- Grill until internal temp reaches 145oF, flipping at least once to ensure even cooking. Start
checking internal temperature in the thickest part of the tri-tip after about 30 minutes, then recheck every 10 minutes or so until beef is up to temperature.
4. Remove tri-tip from the grill, cover, let it rest for at least five minutes and slice as thin as you can across the grain.
Step 2: Make-ahead topping ideas
There’s no doubt that protein is important when you’re making tacos, but what really separates the great ones is the produce. These recipe ideas provide big veggie-forward flavor to taco night. And best of all, they all keep well in the fridge for weeks, so you can make them ahead to make taco night that much easier. Make as few or as many as you like, but remember – when it comes to topping a street taco, the more the merrier.
Pico de gallo
Tomatoes, red onion and cilantro. This holy trinity of Mexican flavors is so simple yet so delicious. Here’s a recipe if you think you need it, but really, all you need to do is dice up your ingredients in ratios that suit your taste. Then season simply with salt and pepper to taste, and you have a fresh batch of a condiment that’s amazing on tacos, eggs, bagels with cream cheese, grilled chicken, and the list goes on.
Quick salsa verde
Salsas are kind of like pasta sauces. Premade versions that come in a jar are great, but next to something fresh and homemade, there’s simply no comparison. This green salsa made with tomatillos, cilantro, chili peppers and onion has a mild, fresh flavor that balances big, beefy tri-tip perfectly. And the best part? A big batch comes together in just 25 minutes.
Equal parts sweet, sour and bright, these quick pickled onions are an authentic Mexican
ingredient and an absolute flavor bomb that balances rich, beefy flavor perfectly. They require just four ingredients and 10 minutes of prep time to make. And yes, that bright pink color is real – and sure to pique the interest of anyone who sits down to this epic meal.
Grilled fajita veggies
OK, so this one isn’t exactly made ahead. But it’s so easy, we just had to include it anyway. Got a cast-iron skillet? Once your tri-tip is off the grill, get the pan on there and sauté up some sliced bell peppers and onions while your tri-tip is resting. A bit of oil, a dash of oregano, a squirt of lime juice and a little salt and pepper, and you’re well on your way to bringing big fajita flavors to taco night.
Step 3: Store-bought additions
No amount of topping options is too many when it comes to serving up tacos. Each one brings something unique and helps to balance the flavors in every bite.
The Right Tortilla
While many Americans grew up on flour, authentic street tacos typically feature corn tortillas. If your grocery store has them, give ’em a try! Just make sure to steam them before you serve – just wrap them in foil and throw them on the cool side of the grill for a few minutes and your’e all set.
It’s fresh. It’s affordable. And it brings brightness and herbaceous flavors to any street taco. If you’re one of the unfortunate souls for whom cilantro has a soapy flavor, feel free to substitute flat-leaf parsley or fresh oregano.
Look for Mexican brands like Cholula, Tapatio or Valentina to add a bit of tanginess and heat.
Monterey Jack or the indomitable queso dip are good Tex-Mex inspired options, but authentic
Mexican styles like cotija and queso blanco are more authentic options that can also be found in many grocery stores.
And that’s it! One great cut of beef, a few simple recipes and a quick run to the grocery store is really all you need to bring food truck fare to your backyard. If you need any help tracking down a tasty Morton’s of Omaha Steakhouse Classic Tri-Tip, just head over to our store finder to see where it’s available near you. While you’re there, check out all the ways we make traditional dishes like corned beef brisket and hearty beef stew easy too. And as always, The Second Helping blog is brimming with ideas on how to make great meals without great effort.
Viva la taco!