A taco stand or taqueria is a food stall, food cart or restaurant that specializes in tacos and other Mexican dishes. The food is typically prepared quickly and tends to be inexpensive. Many various ingredients may be used, and various taco styles may be served. Taco stands are an integral part of Mexican street food. Tacos became a part of traditional Mexican cuisine in the early 20th century, beginning in Mexico City, as what had been a miner's snack began to be sold on street corners in the city. Shops selling tacos have since proliferated throughout Mexico and other areas with a heavy Mexican culinary and cultural influence, including much of the Western United States and most other larger American cities.:4–5 More typical taquerías specialize in tacos, as expected, but in some localities it can be used to refer to restaurants specializing in burritos, where tacos themselves are less of a point of emphasis.:139–148
In Mexico, taco stands are commonly referred to as taquerías, because originally a taquería was typically a street vendor. However, many taquerías today are restaurants located in buildings. Taco stands may be located at roadsides and in areas where people gather, such as at outdoor mall areas. Taco stands are typically located outdoors, although the term is also used at times to refer to taco restaurants. Some taco stands are temporary operations, set-up for events such as fairs and festivals.
Meats used include beef (such as carne asada and cabeza), pork (such as al pastor), goat meat (such as tacos de birria), shrimp and fish, as used in fish tacos. Additional ingredients used include cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, various vegetables such as onion and cilantro, and hot sauce, among others.
Taco stands are common in Mexico. For example, Jalisco, Mexico has a diverse variety of taco stands in many of its neighborhoods. In Banderas, taco stands serve as gathering places for local residents, and stands develop reputations based upon variables such as food quality and variety.
El Taco de la Ermita is a popular outdoor taco stand in Baja California, Mexico that serves a diverse variety of gourmet-style tacos. Wait times can be an hour or longer, and the stand typically has an armed security guard on premises to maintain order.
A taco stand in the Tacubaya neighborhood of Mexico City
Taco stands along a street in Petatlán, Guerrero, Mexico
Tacos with beef suadero being prepared at a taco stand in Mexico
In the United States, some brick-and-mortar restaurants may be referred to as taco stands. Some American chefs and service industry professionals have left their employment positions to open their own taco stands.
Prior to establishing the Taco Bell restaurant chain, Glen Bell, the company's founder, opened a small chain of taco stands named Taco-Tia in San Bernardino, California. Bell owned and operated a hamburger stand prior to opening Taco-Tia. In 2012, Taco Bell sold over 2 billion tacos annually, and had around 6,500 locations in all U.S. states and in several countries.
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Alebrije's Grill is a taco truck based in Santa Ana, California that purveys a signature dish called the "Battleship Taco" which is a large concoction of rice, breaded steak and roasted cactus served on a tortilla.
Tito's Tacos is a family-owned taco stand in Culver City that has been in operation since 1959. Featuring a short menu that has not changed in decades, the stand sells American-style hard-shell tacos filled with shredded beef and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, and cold, grated cheddar cheese. It has a loyal customer base and is frequently seen with long lines, though the lines "move quickly".
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Early History: From Taco Stand to Taco John's Chain. The sprawling restaurant chain dubbed Taco John's was born as a single, tiny taco stand. The "Taco House" as it was called, opened in 1968 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was started by a ...
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