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The 15 best tacos in Boston

Filled with fish, meat or vegetables, the best tacos in Boston will satisfy your craving for delicious Mexican food

Photograph: Brian Samuels Photography

There is something about Mexican food that makes us go gaga. Regular visitors of the best Mexican restaurants in Boston, we have now sought out to compile a list of the very best tacos in Boston, from vegetarian-friendly options to crispy ones loaded with fresh fish and meats. May we suggest trying each and every one of them on a city-wide food tour? Fair warning: You will probably need to wash all that spice down with a cold beer at one of the best sports bars in Boston or a well-made cocktail from the best bars in Boston after all that eating.

Best tacos in Boston

1

Birria taco at Taqueria Jalisco

The family-owned space could generously be described as compact, but you’re here to order and run—run home with a truly authentic taco that you might be reluctant to tell others about, wishing to keep this delicious secret all to yourself. Many are fans of the beef tongue filling, but the birria taco—only available on the weekends—is a perfectly rendered rendition: beef slow-cooked with adobo spices, then chopped fine and topped with cilantro and onion. $3

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2

Taco de carnitas at La Brasa

You wouldn’t expect to find such a superior taco in such an industrial-chic space. But chef Daniel Bojorquez is a native of Hermosillo, which explains the exquisite preparation of this carnitas taco, the only taco on the menu. Bojorquez cures the pork shoulder overnight with the skin still on, then slow roasts it for 12 hours before serving it with lime salsa verde, chile de arbol and chopped white onions and cilantro. $5

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3

Cabeza taco at Taqueria El Amigo

It’s hard to say this spot is hidden, given that it routinely wins accolades from various local media outlets. Still, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon a glorious secret. This is true taco truck fare, in the best sense, which means you actually have the rare opportunity to order a cabeza taco—a taco filled with cheek meat. It’s tender, fatty and almost overwhelmingly delicious, topped with a big slab of avocado that nicely cuts the flavor intensity. $2

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4

Surtido taco at La Victoria Taqueria

Do you want to know what’s in a surtido taco? Fair warning, you might not want to. For the curious ones: It encompasses just about every part of the pig, from its fatty bits to the gristle. Savor this meaty, spicy, fatty, drippy, delicious entry from cult fave La Victoria and then marvel over the fact that your taco cost about the same as your bus ride to get to it. $2.85

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5

Pescado taco at Tenoch

Stateside, a good fish taco is mighty hard to come by outside of Los Angeles, but Tenoch scratches your SoCal itch. Co-owners (and brothers) Alvaro and Andres Sandoval hail from Veracruz and cook their family’s recipes, which explains the superiority of their dishes (the tortas are the other big hits here). The breaded fish is topped with cucumber, cilantro and a creamy green salsa—simple accoutrements that let the flakey white fish shine through. Though there are now three outlets of this mini-chain, the original Medford branch still seems to have a slight edge on its siblings. $3.50

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The North End
6

Carnitas taco at Lone Star Taco Bar

This place was a hit from the moment it opened, catering to the twentysomethings of Allston who crave cheap yet delicious fare in hip environs. Luckily, this Tex-Mex spot delivers the goods. A carnitas taco is always the bellwether of success and here it is truly notable, the pork given a confit treatment, slightly crisped before serving and topped with the traditional onions and cilantro, plus queso fresco and salsa verde (all the corn tortillas are also made in-house). Order the street corn if you must—and you should—but make the tacos the centerpiece of your meal. $4

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Brighton
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7

Cochinita pibil taco at Rincon Mexicano

This is another hard-to-find staple in our Northeast ‘burb, so we pay eternal thanks to Rincon Mexicano for getting it so right. Think Yucatan Peninsula preparation: pork marinated in citrus juices and seasoned with annatto seeds, which give the meat that burnt orange tinge. The house-made tortillas from chef-owner Lorenzo Reyes seal the deal on the simple-but-sublime takeout meal. $2.99

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8

Short rib taco at Burro Bar

The more casual sibling of the Painted Burro, Burro Bar does simple street fare impeccably well. The chicken liver taco is the headliner in many ways, but over and over again diners rave about the short rib “double stack” taco, which folds a crispy tortilla inside a soft one for added texture. The ample pile of tender, juicy short rib offsets the extra layer of gluten so that you’re left with a full stomach after a single serving. $8 for two

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9

Seitan chorizo taco at Taco Party

It’s tough out there for a vegan, never more so than when Mexican food is involved (for starters, corn tortillas are usually made with shortening). So Taco Party has been a gift from the culinary gods: meatless tacos done with flavor, not just ethics, in mind. Many terrific options abound (the BBQ jackfruit taco is a popular choice), but the simple seitan chorizo taco gives you all the spice and tenderness you might secretly crave from a beef taco. $4

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Somerville
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10

Ribeye taco at Publico

It would be easy to skip over this one entirely, given that it sits under the “snacks” portion of the menu and that entrées like whole-fried snapper beckon. Don’t. The simple, savory combo of ribeye tartare, capers and a fried egg makes for an unusual but delectable appetizer. Just consider splitting the dish with your dining companion, as its richness might dampen your appetite for the food still to come. $9 for two

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