Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inside Mexico City's taco al pastor

Lebanese and Mexican traditions produce a great taco.

Three winters ago, we discovered the taco al pastor in Mexico City and lost count of how many we wolfed down at El Califa and other restaurants. On Tuesday, I heard from a Bergen County woman who just returned and has been pining for the delightful treats.

These scrumptious tacos are deceptively simple: First, marinated pork is roasted on a vertical spit, in the Lebanese style brought over by immigrants from that country (see photo above).

Then, the meat goes into two corn tortillas with fresh pineapple (that's it, at the top of the spit), onion, cilantro and a great salsa. Yet, I have not found their equal in North Jersey or the city.

A taco al pastor at Taqueria El Califa in Mexico City.

The taco maker in the photo is actually a blur in person -- slicing off meat with his right hand into small corn tortillas held in his left hand. Then, he swings the knife at the pineapple for the sweet garnish, shown above.

In Mexico City, the taco al pastor is served three at a time, with a couple of small cups holding red or green salsa. We sampled the taco at three places before deciding the best ones were being served at Taqueria El Califa, then returned two more times.

Here, I stopped looking for a good taco al pastor more than a year ago, the last time I ate meat. 

But I'm betting you can find something similar at Rosa Mexicano in Hackensack, even if you have to order a pork dish, bring your own fresh pineapple and make your own with the restaurant's scrumptious corn tortillas, which are prepared in the dining room.

Rosa Mexicano, 390 Hackensack Ave., in The Shops at Riverside, 
Hackensack; 201-489-9100.

Taqueria El Califa, Altata 22, Colonia Condesa, 
Mexico City; 5271.6285, 5273.4943.


  1. Try El Aguila in Passiac

  2. You're saying El Aguila has good tacos or serves the taco al pastor?


Please try to stay on topic.