Your own private taqueria


This is your chance to have a taqueria experience in the comfort of your own home. After all this trouble, you might realize that perhaps it’s much easier to walk to the nearest taco truck or taqueria and throw down a five spot. That may be true. But give a man a taco, and he eats that day. Teach a man to taco, and he eats until his colon ruptures.

First of all, we start with the duality that is red and green taqueria table sauces. These two colors help make the Mexican flag. I guess if you wanted to complete the flag you could add crema or *gasp* sour cream to your taqueria tacos, but I will personally hunt you down and torture you by slicing off your eyelids and staking you to a pole in a sandstorm.

The first sauce I co-opted from a recipe that was shared on Chow.


Taqueria Table Sauce

  • 5 medium roma tomatoes, cored and halved
  • 10 dried chile de arbol
  • 2 dried chile negro (dried pasilla)
  • 2 tablespoon dried pasilla powder
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon roasted salted pepitas
  • 1 tablespoon roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • Juice of one lime or juice of two key limes
  • 1/3 bunch of cilantro

Place the tomatoes, skin side up, under heated broiler on top rack and broil until the skins start to blacken and shrivel.

Remove and add to saucepan. Break off stems from dried chilies, and shake out most of the seeds. If you want, get into the larger dried pasillas and remove some of the pith. No biggie. Add to saucepan, along with dried pasilla powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and water. Bring to boil and simmer over low for 20 minutes.

Pour into blender, add seeds, lime juices, cilantro, and puree incrementally using all those unneccesary escalating power settings on your blender (“These go 11”). My blender actually has 12 settings, though the initial level, “Fast Clean” I don’t think actually qualifies, but I make sure to utilize it because I feel like I’m being wasteful if I don’t. Oh yeah, stop when you have a nice, liquid consistency. There’s often a setting on blenders called “liquefy”. I suggest you escalate to this level. Maybe not at first, though — build up to it with some blender foreplay.


Tomatillo-Avocado Sauce

You could use fresh hulled, roasted tomatillos for this recipe, but I find that a canned Mexican brand of pre-made salsa verde works quite excellently. But if you want to use fresh tomatillos, by all means do, but nobody is going to give you a prize or anything.

  • 2 7 oz cans Embasa Brand Salsa Verde (warning, link to THE BEST WEBSITE EVER)
  • 1 Haas Avocado (who is this guy “Haas”? Did he invent the avocado?)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 bunch cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 dashes El Yucateco Chile Habenero XXXTRA (that’s 3 x’s for those keeping score at home) Hot Sauce

Put everything in a blender. Pulse and tease the salsa using the aforementioned blender foreplay, until a smooth, even consistency is reached.

Now for the carne asada.

Seek out a carniceria in your neighborhood — you’ll be happier to have found one, if only for the fact that the most popular brand of bread in Mexico is called “Bimbo”. They usually sell flap meat/steak, often even pre-marinated/seasoned for your pleasure. You can also find this cut at Winco foods. It is usually sliced in thin, broad sheets.

You say there’s no carcineria in your ‘hood? I find that hard to believe. Haven’t you been listening to right wing talk radio? If you had been, you’d realize the Mexicans are taking over ‘Murica and will soon reclaim the entire southwest as the Republic of Aztlan via “El Reconquista”. Tom Tancredo and Michelle Malkin said so! Beware the brown! Except for today, the day we make carne asada tacos. ¡Viva México!

General Zapata’s Carne Asada

  • Bunch o’ slices of flap meat, like over a pound or so
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 5 garlic cloves, shoved through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon chile de arbol powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Kosher salt

Combine the meat and spices and salt everything to suit your tastes. Marinade for at least a couple hours. Grill over hot coals, few minutes per side, for a nice all around char. Chop up the carne into little bite size pieces, though only what you plan to eat right then and there.


I actually prefer to keep the flap steaks intact, refrigerate, and then for subsequent taco meals chop and reheat on a hot griddle. The meat will transform into perfect little crispy carnuggets. Spoon the carne asada onto doubled, warmed corn tortillas. I guess you could use flour tortillas — I suppose — but you’ll lose all my respect and in fact earn my resentment for some time to come. Garnish with diced white onions and cilantro.


Oh yeah, and the table salsas.


For added effect put the salsas in plastic squeeze bottles. Squirt the sauces onto your tacos ONLY WHEN YOU’VE BROUGHT THE TACOS TO THE TABLE. I personally don’t even get that far. I eat my tacos standing up, at my kitchen counter, and pretend like I’m at a taco stand in the streets of Tijuana, drunk off tourist tequila and pissed because I’ve foolishly bet all my money on worthless football trifectas.

7 thoughts on “Your own private taqueria”

  1. Hey GC – Good thing we have 24 hour taco shops here… am I hungry! Where did you get the name “General Zapata’s Carne Asada”?

  2. That was an awesome read eMSG. Thx for the tip. I have Bayless’ book, I’m going to buy Diane Kennedy’s – she’s a treasure.

    Hey Kirk – I was being a bit cheeky about the whole Mexican autonomy thing. I tend to get carried away. I hope you don’t hit Regretto’s – er, I mean Roberto’s! That’s one thing I miss about San Diego – getting carne asada at 2:30am (and waiting in line for it). Also, carne asada benedict at the beach!

  3. I should know better than to look at your blog when it’s not mealtime. Oh man, that food porn! I think I know what I’ll be up to this weekend. Unless I can find your house, of course…

  4. GC, yet another nice post on mexican food (carnitas). I’m definitely going to try this at home b/c the lady loves tacos. Those salsas looks so spicy that you don’t need to go thru the trouble of staking someone in the desert. just toss the leftover salsa at their face. Nice post.

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