What is a Taqueria?
A taqueria is a type of food establishment that specialises in the preparation and sale of tacos.
Tacos are a typical Mexican dish consisting of a corn or flour tortilla filled with various ingredients, such as beef, chicken, pork, fish or seafood, accompanied by sauces, guacamole, cilantro, onion and other condiments.
Taquerias usually offer a wide variety of taco options, both in terms of the types of meat or filling available, as well as the different combinations of ingredients and sauces.
In addition to tacos, some taquerias may also offer other Mexican dishes, such as quesadillas, burritos, tostadas or antojitos mexicanos.
Taquerias are very popular both in Mexico and in other countries where Mexican cuisine has spread. They are usually informal and cosy places where you can enjoy tasty and authentic food at an affordable price.
Origins of taquerias
The history of the taqueria as a catering business has its roots in ancient Mesoamerican culture and has evolved over the centuries to become a central element of Mexican gastronomy.
The origins of the taco can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times in Mexico when indigenous people used corn tortillas as the basis of their meals, and filled these tortillas with various ingredients such as meat, fish, insects and vegetables.
This style of food preparation continued after the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the 16th century, and tacos began to form part of the country’s daily diet.
The concept of the taqueria as a place dedicated specifically to the sale of tacos emerged in Mexico in the 19th century.
Initially, they were street stalls where street vendors offered tacos prepared on the spot to satisfy the demand of the local population.
These stalls quickly became popular meeting places and gained a reputation for their tasty tacos.
Over time, taquerias evolved and established themselves as fixed premises, where people could enjoy a wide variety of tacos and other Mexican dishes and recipes, incorporating tables, chairs and a more formal structure to serve diners.
When was the first Taqueria founded?
The first documented taqueria in Mexico is “El Tápalo” which was founded in 1901 in Mexico City.
It was established by a man named Juan Méndez, who sold tacos from a food cart on Tacuba Street.
The name “El Tápalo” was derived from a combination of the words “taco” and “apolanco”, which was the name of the colonia where the taco stand was located.
“El Tápalo” became famous for its carne asada tacos, which are served in warm corn tortillas with various accompaniments such as onions, cilantro and salsa.
The taqueria quickly gained popularity and became a landmark for taco lovers in Mexico City.
Differences between Taqueria and Mexican restaurant
A Mexican restaurant can offer a wide variety of traditional Mexican dishes, which go beyond tacos.
These restaurants usually have a diverse menu that includes enchiladas, tamales, pozole, mole, chiles, among others.
On the other hand, a taqueria specialises mainly in the preparation and sale of tacos, although they may also offer other Mexican snacks such as quesadillas, sopes, gorditas or tostadas.
Taquerias tend to have a more casual, fast-food atmosphere, with the option of ordering tacos at the counter and eating them on the spot or taking them to enjoy them elsewhere.
The choice between a Mexican restaurant and a taqueria will depend on your preferences and the type of experience you want to have.
If you are looking for a wider variety of Mexican dishes and a more formal restaurant experience, a Mexican restaurant may be the right choice although as mentioned there are taquerias that offer practically this alternative as well.
If, on the other hand, you are specifically craving tacos and want a quicker and more casual option, a taqueria will be the ideal choice.
In both cases, you will be able to enjoy the rich and tasty Mexican food.
If you want to go to the oldest taqueria in Madrid, remember! At Taqueria de Birra we are experts in tacos and Mexican food since 1989, so if you are craving for some good tacos in the purest Mexican style, we invite you to order takeaway or come and try them at our premises in C/ Don Pedro, 11 or Plaza de las Comendadoras, 2.