Feature

Is the Gourmet Taco the Next Gourmet Burger?

Food Trends 2012 Header

PBS shines a light on latest food trends in 2012 thus far. We set out to see what is new in the culinary world and what the near future looks like for foodies, so we spoke with esteemed chefs and culinary professionals across the country to get their insight on this phenomenon.

Takorean Tacos

Tacos are getting a gourmet facelift this year. Photo Credit: Takorean Food Truck of Washington, D.C.

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By Alex Fishler

Move over, gourmet burgers, the gourmet taco has arrived.

Tacos have long been a staple of Mexican food in the U.S., and the dish is making a clear transition from fast-food restaurants and food trucks to gourmet menus.

“Hate to say this because I know I’m biased, but tacos are the wave of the future,” said Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza.

Esparza, chef and owner of Barrio Café in Phoenix, is a Mexican chef who is excited about tacos hitting the fine dining circuit.

“Not to be confused with the American hard shell that you can make by yourself at home or pick up at Taco Bell, instead the trend will be for ones made of fresh masa, hand-made corn tortillas,” said Esparza.

In recent years, we saw gourmet burger restaurants springing up across the country, but this year tacos seem to be taking on that role.

“Fresh tacos made to order and filled with an elaborate variety of savory and hard-to-find fillings,” are becoming popular restaurant items according to Esparza.

Traditional tacos usually have some form of protein, like beef, chicken or fish, topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese. The 2012 version of a taco seems to be more sophisticated and adventurous, but just as delicious.

Fish Tacos

Now these are some good looking fish tacos. Photo Credit: We Are Not Martha, wearenotmartha.com

Just thinking about the trend left Esparza thinking about getting her hands on one of these gourmet treats. “A taco of smoked oysters topped with a smoky chipotle and roasted tomato salsa is sounding really good right about now,” said Esparza.

Chef Anthony Lamas of Seviche in Louisville, Ky., has also noticed the gourmet taco trend increasing in popularity.

“Tacos are the perfect food because they can be made so many ways, including vegetarian and gluten-free,” said Lamas.

Just as Esparza craved an oyster taco, Lamas mentioned different types of unique types of tacos that are becoming more widely accepted across the country like tacos done Korean-style, lobster tacos, and even pig head tacos.

Both Esparza and Lamas cook Latin-American cuisine and are seeking to bring the gourmet taco to their restaurants. “I hope to help launch that trend,” said Esparza.

Chefs Featured in This Article

Silvana-Salcido-EsparzaChef Silvana Salcido Esparza owns the Barrio Cafe in Phoenix, Arizona. The Cafe was named “Best Mexican Restaurant” by the Arizona Republic in 2002-2011.

Anthony LamasChef Anthony Lamas is the chef and owner of Seviche in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a 2010-2012 semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast.