The Best Authentic Tacos in Tallahassee

Among the oldest memories I have, the savory smells of carne asada, barbacoa and al pastor that produce some of the fondest ones. It is the smell of the spices which hang in the air like a fog and the heat of the grill where the tortillas are being prepared that is a constant source of warmth. Growing up in a small farming community in South Florida, tacos were a staple food of birthday parties and special occasions, so once I moved to Tallahassee for college a year ago (and celebrating many special occasions), one thing I have been craving is some good, authentic tacos. Which is why in the past year, I have made it my personal mission to find the best authentic tacos that Tallahassee, and its neighboring cities, have to offer.

This was no easy task, seeing as how Tallahassee is home to many self-proclaimed taco shops and Mexican restaurants. In order to find and rate the best and most authentic tacos, I made a grading scale based on limes. 5/5 limes is a perfect score, meaning the tortillas, meat and toppings are perfect to a T and reminiscent of the traditional street taco. I will add "a sprinkling of cilantro and onion" if the overall atmosphere of the restaurant adds to the experience.

Echalee Mexican Grill (666 W. Tennessee)

The first contender is Echalee Mexican Grill. I was excited to try this place out considering the hype friends were giving it, but I’m not so sure it lived up to that. While it isn’t advertised, the corn tortillas don’t seem to be made in-house and the tacos are overfilled and served in a single tortilla, as opposed to double tortilla so that you have another taco when the meat inevitably spills out. Despite this, the food is good and well-seasoned. A friend described it as a boujee Taco Bell, which I thought was fitting.

My score: 2/5 limes and no cilantro or onion.

La Tiendita Mexican Restaurant (1840 N Monroe St.)

La Tiendita is very much a hole in the wall, blink and you miss it, type of place. It is small and its insides are lined with traditional serapes, Mexican artwork and other artifacts that remind me of summers spent under the Mexican sun. To put it simply, it’s gorgeous and its owners are always decorating for holidays like Day of the Dead, going as far as to supply an altar for the patrons to admire. I am sad to say, however, that their tacos are nothing grand. Much like Echalee, I am unsure whether the tortillas are freshly made and in contrast, are underfilled. The carne asada tacos are good, the meat is juicy and pairs well with a Coke, but it is simply missing that zing factor to it that traditional street tacos have with the added grease. 

My score: 3/5 limes with a heavy spoonful of cilantro and onion and some salsa verde because this place is so pretty.

El Jalisco (2022 N. Monroe)

When it comes to Mexican restaurants, there are quite a few in Tally that are a fusion of Tex-Mex cuisine. El Jalisco restaurant is one of them. Locally owned and with four other locations, El Jalisco’s tacos are savory, and their al pastor option proved to be my favorite. The tacos are the right amount of juicy in firm tortillas that won’t fall apart as they are also double lined. They use La Banderita brand tortillas, which means the tacos have a bit of a sweet taste to them that is expected from the brand of tortillas, but can be off-putting for a tortilla lover.

My score: 4/5 limes.

Locos Tacos & Bar (1525 W Tharpe St. Tallahassee, FL 32303)

Locos Tacos & Bar is by far the closest you will get to authentic street tacos in Tally. The tortillas are made by hand and the al pastor is a personal favorite; always well-seasoned and not too greasy with the right amount of juice. The one major point of criticism that I do have for their tacos is their prices. An average taco may cost anywhere from $1 to $1.50, so the increase in price may be up to par with taste, but I am of the firm belief that you should not have to overpay for your taco.

My score: 4/5 limes with a dash of cilantro for their modern vibe.

Taqueria Miranda (18870 Blue Star Hwy Quincy, FL 32351)

Courtesy: Yelp

 

I have left my absolute favorite taco spot for last because it is well worth the wait. Taqueria Miranda is located in Quincy, some 35 minutes from Tallahassee but the drive is worth it. This place has the epitome of the traditional street tacos. While not double lined, the tortillas are freshly made and are somewhere in between soft and firm so that while the tacos won’t fall apart, it also goes down well. The meat, regardless of what you get, is so deliciously mouthwatering that you simply cannot stop at two or three. Each taco is only $1.50 and comes with lime slices, cilantro, onion and a side of salsa of choice. The taqueria is a bit weathered, residing in a food truck that has found a permanent location. Its sitting area is comprised of just three or four tables and plastic chairs on top of gravel, but that does little to deter the many loyal patrons that frequent this gem. The only con I could give Taqueria Miranda is that it does not sell drinks and only accepts cash.

My score: 5/5 limes with all of the cilantro and onion.