Our travels took us from fancy restaurants to humble holes-in-the-wall, spacious grocery stores to cramped-looking trucks baking in the merciless sun. And wherever we went, we eschewed burritos, tortas, enchiladas or other more complicated creations, because our mission was clear: finding the finest tacos in town. And here they are.
► Cinco's Taco Grill
Small and comfortable, with soccer and daytime soaps on the flatscreens and several choices available on the tortillas made in-house. 3513 N Classen Blvd., OKC
The Flavor: The menu includes chorizo nachos – I’ve never seen those two of my favorite words combined that way, I’m going to have to go back for that, but in the meantime we tried borrego, asada, al pastor, barbacoa and a breakfast taco with chorizo, potato, egg and cheese … we got a little carried away because everything was so fresh and good, especially the rich, lingering flavor of the al pastor and incredibly melt-on-the-tongue barbacoa. Honestly, this place is outstanding; Alex Reyes only opened it a few months ago, but it became one of my go-to lunch options on the spot. Give it a shot, soon.
The Cost: $2.50 apiece, and that’s a steal.
Cinco's Taco Grill on Facebook
► Tony's Tacos
I don’t know how the idea of a taco drive-in was conceived, but the execution is sound – look for the sign with the cone of meat on S Western and pull in to one of the slots to order. 3300 S Western, OKC
The Flavor: Try the barbacoa, the al pastor and the pollo – with two words of warning: The tacos are fresh enough that they’re extremely hot when they come out, and speaking of heat, the creamy salsa verde has a wonderful flavor but plenty of oomph. It looked like a single person was cooking, working the register and acting as carhop while we were there, so much respect to the one-man show – I don’t even like eating in my car, but I’m happy to make an exception for Tony’s.
The Cost: $1.65
► Carnitas Michoacan
Located literally next door to Ethiopian restaurant Haiget’s and two doors down from Wild Bill’s Donuts, the fast, friendly Mexican place (their mascot is a sprinting taco) makes this possibly the greatest strip center in creation. 306 W Edmond Road, Edmond
The Flavor: I didn’t love the breaded beef of the Milanese – a little dry – but the carnitas are savory, we appreciated the option of fish and the pollo is moist and flavorful.
The Cost: $1.35 apiece. With this tiny price and size – they’re basically taco sliders – there’s every reason to indulge in experimentation.
Carnitas Michoacan on Facebook
► Hacienda Tacos
I love the atmosphere here, for its own sake even without marveling at the makeover from its previous life as a CityBites. The brick patio is perfection even on a warm day, and the full menu includes house margaritas on tap. 12086 N May, OKC
The Flavor: We tried one of each taco, for … um … a better photo. Yes, that sounds plausible. Standouts are the al pastor’s nice smoky flavor and pineapple, the barbacoa’s marvelous texture (with a little bit of char on the tips) and lingering “mouthful of meat” flavor – but, and I almost feel bad for recommending this, I liked it way more without the avocado. Removing it allows the beef more of the spotlight on your palate – and the seared ahi tuna, which is a little less conventional but delicious, especially with the wallop of sriracha aioli.
The Cost: $4 apiece, mostly. The tuna is $8, but you should try it anyway.
► El Taco Loco
You’re looking for the truck that’s staked out the Angles parking lot; the sign’s pretty faded but you can’t miss it. Bring cash, and leave your A/C running. 2117 NW 39th, OKC
The Flavor: Pollo, asada, carnitas, al pastor Small, a few bites each, but super fresh, delicious and benefiting from a surprisingly nice presentation for a walk-up truck window – the foil-covered plate also holds pickled carrot slices, a grilled jalapeno and little containers of red and green sauce. BTW, the carnitas were especially nice.
We were back on the road in no time, and as we drove away we had one of those “that was good” [pause] “that was really good” conversations that indicates there’s nothing crazy about heading this way.
The Cost: Can’t argue with one solitary dollar a pop.
► Angie's Taco Trailer
Angie’s truck is tucked into the NE corner of 26th and Western, across from a quinceanera store – be aware that there’s very little room to park in the lot the truck occupies; you might need to go curbside along 26th. 2530 S Western, OKC
The Flavor: The asada, the carnitas and especially the piquant al pastor are wee little things, but each a fresh, tasty couple of mouthfuls. Don’t skip the habanero sauce.
The Cost: $1.25, which makes the diminutive size no problem.
► Chalo's Tacos
If you’re looking for authenticity, you should take comfort in noticing the sign outside Chalo’s that reads “el Puro Sabor del Calvillo” (the pure flavor of Calvillo, a city in central Mexico outside Aguascalientes) – I appreciated the heads-up. The interior demonstrates the benefits of an open kitchen: diners can hear the sizzle of their order underway on the flattop, and the steak smells utterly fantastic. 5029 N Rockwell, Bethany
The Flavor: Asada, al pastor, lengua. We were told the chicken is choice, but they were out that day. I felt as though the lengua might have been chopped just a little fine, but relished the other two, especially that fragrant steak.
The Cost: Simplemente $1.50 each. Me gusta.
► Hugo's Taquizas
You should be able to convince yourself to give Hugo’s a try simply by looking up the word taquiza – it essentially means a taco party-slash-buffet. Sounds like a plan, right? 3409 NW 23rd, OKC
The Flavor: Highlights of its quite ample options include the cochinita pibil and chorizo. It’s almost a pity the tacos are so large, since it cuts down on your ability to sample everything … but return trips are always a possibility. It’s a nice setup with welcoming ambiance – it doesn’t look like much from passing by on 23rd, but you’ll be glad you stopped.
The Cost: An already unreasonably low $1.50 much of the time, reduced to a ridiculous $1 on Tuesdays.
► Little Knight's
That’s the right address; their taco truck still operates at Waterloo and Boulevard, but the family recently opened this brick-and-mortar diner just down the road, so take the opportunity to get indoors (or out on the patio’s picnic tables once October rolls around). 2917 E Waterloo, Edmond
The Flavor: Four possibilities, and the street tacos helpfully come four to an order; it’s almost like kismet. The asada is fine, but I’d steer you toward the well-spiced chorizo, the slightly tangy al pastor and especially the pollo, which is the best chicken we had. Our order was topped with a scattering of fried potato slices and onions, too, which were so good they didn’t survive cooling to a more reasonable temperature.
The Cost: $7 for the quartet; it doesn’t take much in the way of math skills to see Little Knight’s is very much worth a drive.
I hope there’s no need for me to praise the sleek, stylish interior or massive covered dining patio, because surely you’ve already sampled both many times. Surely. 1000 N Hudson, OKC
The Flavor: Carnitas, lamb barbacoa, ground beef, skirt steak in a guajillo chili sauce. The crema and crunchy shell do fantastic work in the ground beef, but the star is the layered, excellently balanced carnitas; there’s a lot going on in each bite from succulent pork to pickled onion to pineapple, and each bite rewards lengthy savoring.
The Cost: $8-$9 per order, each of which contains two big tacos. Comparatively pricy, thoroughly delicious.
► Taqueria Rafita's
I know Nic’s Grill has its own gravity for hungry passers-by, but even though Rafita’s is right across the street, it’s more than inviting enough to give it a try or several. Visit gallery Current Studio next door while you’re there, too. 1222 N Pennsylvania, OKC
The Flavor: Pollo, al pastor, barbacoa. They’re pretty big and stuffed full, to the point that they’re actually kind of a mess to eat because it’s hard to get the tortillas closed around all the meat piled in there. If there’s a Spanish word for the savory morsels that fell out of your taco and you wind up trying to discreetly eat with your fingers afterward, this would be a good occasion to use it. The sauces are both very good, too, especially the sizzling green.
The Cost: It’s a great deal for $2 apiece.
► Taqueria Sanchez
A truck in a little strip on the north side of 10th between Portland and Meridian, its menu looks surprisingly robust, and while it’s cash-only, it’s very fast. 4011 NW 10th, OKC
The Flavor: Pollo, al pastor, barbacoa, tripe. We ate beef intestine and lived, it was fine and juicy, and the al pastor is very good, but mi dios the barbacoa. It’s so supremely smoky and savory with a little almost-crunch in the beef from doneness … we might have caught them on an especially good day, but it was a marvel.
The Cost: The idea of getting something this mouthwatering for only a dollar a shot (they have a 4 for $4 special on tacos) seems fundamentally unfair, a life hack of the highest order. I’m not actually going to sell my house and move to the west side just to be nearer to Sanchez, but if you hear of anything available, let me know.
► La Michocana
This cool little meat market/grocery has a taco counter by the door – you pay up front based on how many tortillas you want (flour and corn are priced identically) and then have them filled from whichever tray you want, they don’t mind. 1125 SW 29th, OKC
The Flavor: Barbacoa, deshebrada, bistek … and my notes at this point simply devolve into an embarrassingly long string of exclamation points after the word bistek, but these steak morsels stewed in green chiles are amazing.
I will say that this was one of the only times we encountered a language barrier, but your patience in communicating will be immediately and amply rewarded. Highly recommended (thanks to Greg Horton for the tip).
The Cost: Given the size and the nearly sublime taste, $2 is an amazing bargain.
► Taqueria Express
Don’t be dissuaded by the somewhat plasticy, fast-food vibe of this highway-adjacent café; it’s swift, yes, but also quite good. 6909 S May, OKC
The Flavor: Pollo, al pastor, asada, carnitas … options similar to dozens of other places, but good across the board – little touches such as green chile in the asada, spicy rub on the pollo and lightly toasted corn tortillas make a difference.
The Cost: $5 for a four-pack.
► Cultivar Mexican Kitchen
Bustling, spacious, noisy and comfortable, Cultivar’s bar is a definite draw, and the patio adjoining Automobile Alley is an awesome hangout spot unless it’s just preposterously hot out (but what are the odds of that?) 714 N Broadway, OKC
The Flavor: A classic carne asada, rich, smoky chicken mole and beautifully tender pork belly with a zippy kimchi slaw. All three are more savory than spicy, but that’s easy to change if you’re in the mood: Throw a dash or two of Field sauce on there (that’s the green one, driven by Serrano peppers) and you’re good to go.
The Cost: $4.35-$5 apiece – pricier than many, but the ingredients are both a little more eclectic and carefully sourced for premium quality.
► Taqueria La Original #2
This little spot on the south side of Memorial has an authentically Hispanic vibe (Nortenos music, Spanish language news broadcast) and does a brisk lunch business – the menu mentions the dish alambres, which sounds fantastic. 36 W Memorial, OKC
The Flavor: Lengua, barbacoa, chorizo that was delicious if a bit runny and a great al pastor, not afraid to be spicier than many we tried and with an excellent presence.
The Cost: $1.65 a pop
► Taqueria Los Desvelados
I know there are other establishments on SW 29th – car dealerships, convenience stores, churches – but it can genuinely seem as though the entire boulevard is one long, unbroken string of Mexican restaurants. I’d say variety is one of Desvelados’ strengths; I’m fairly certain it’s the only place we visited that offered goat, in its birria tacos. 1516 SW 29th, OKC
The Flavor: The jamon (bits of ham) and salchicha (a chopped hot dog) were not really my speed, but their takes on the classics of pollo and al pastor are sound, and I am delighted to have found the rich shredded goat. That’s good stuff.
The Cost: It’s a sign that the south side is a taco paradise when the tag of $2.30 is a bit higher than its surroundings – but amply worth it and a very good call.
Taqueria Los Desvelados on Facebook
► Casa Perico
You have a couple of choices (the other is on NW 122nd and Penn) for locations of this sit-down favorite that’s been serving up Mexican goodness for more than 20 years. I like the relaxed atmosphere of this one, though. 4521 NW 63rd, OKC
The Flavor: Tacos de carne come in a double shell for extra crunchiness, and are a solid choice even if I wish the shredded beef had a little more flavor. But get the tacos pioneros for the texture; it’s a lot like a quesadilla, pillowy soft with a hint of toasted crisping around the circumference and lots of gooey melted cheese to cushion the accompanying strips of sautéed onions and peppers you should definitely stuff it with.
The Cost: Each set of 3 is $11.
► Revolucion Taqueria
Industrial inside and with an artificial turf patio – one table of two was relaxing with a dog, which is always nice to see. The place was pretty well packed when we visited, but we still had really good service. 916 NW 6th, OKC
The Flavor: If you’re looking for veggie options, Revolucion can hook you up. The cauliflower is a satisfying mouthful (in that it doesn’t taste like the raw vegetable) with a little sweetness from the pineapple. The shrimp is tasty, too, but the best thing we had was the lengua, whose presentation did its exceptional tenderness justice by staying simple: just a smattering of onions and avocado. Squeeze a jolt of lime juice on and enjoy.
The Cost: $3-$4 each, and they’re not particularly large – for drinks and a snack, go nuts, but if you’re very hungry it might not be my first choice.
► Supermercados Morelos
Taco-shopping inside a grocery store felt like a bit of a gamble, but we immediately loved the atmosphere of this market, very bright and cheerful with a neat little cafeteria area. 1 SE 59th, OKC
The Flavor: The chicharron didn’t wow us, but that might be our fault for expecting it to be crispy. No complaints at all about the asado de puerco or juicy deshebrada, though. Mmm.
The Cost: $1.69 for corn tortillas, $1.89 for flour. I don’t know why the disparity, but it’s minimal.
► Big Truck Tacos
Their presence on this list was never in doubt, and they’ve got the combination of ingredients to scratch whatever itch your taste buds are feeling. It can get awfully busy in there, but take your time poring over the menu and know that there are no wrong answers. 530 NW 23rd, OKC
The Flavor: However, you should also know that the right answer includes the crispy’cado’s spicy fried nuggets of creamy avocado hunks. I’ve never even tried avocado toast, partially because I don’t see why you wouldn’t deep-fry it and put it in a tortilla with salsa instead of smearing it on grilled bread – this might be the best possible way to eat your vegetables (although technically, avocado is a fruit). Beyond that, I generally get the savory tidbits of Rita’s chicken, the tender green chile pork and the pineapple-powered fried shrimp.
The Cost: $3.75, give or take 50 cents. The variety and execution are worth it easily.
To put it gently: You’re not paying for overhead, and this restaurant isn’t in the fancy frills business. But when you hear the word tacos, these crunchy ground beef treats are exactly the image your mind conjures, and sometimes that’s precisely what the doctor ordered. 3502 Newcastle, OKC
The Flavor: Bite after bite of the Platonic form of taco. They have chicken soft tacos, as well, but I still haven’t managed to stop scarfing the originals. And go heavy on the bottle of house-made sauce, it elevates the experience from “hey, these are pretty good” to “hey, these are really good!”
The Cost: At $1.29 apiece, don’t stop ’til you get enough.
The menu stresses the importance of allowing prep time for quality Mexican food, but there was no need to worry; our patience wasn’t tested at all before the feast was at hand. I didn’t even have time to sulk about the wandering musicians – guitars and an accordion – who kept wandering and left without playing anything. 3401 SW 29th, OKC
The Flavor: The deshebrada, bistek, barbacoa and al pastor are all pretty good, but I think the standout is the chorizo – the spice doesn’t hit you right away but comes in nice and strong with subsequent bites, and they cooked it long enough that it’s a delectable heap of crunchy bits.
The Cost: An extremely manageable $1.30 apiece.
► Puebla Tacos
Norman doesn’t do it any better than this downtown destination – plan multiple trips so you can try everything, since that’s what sounds good. 305 E Main, Norman
The Flavor: Cochinita pibil, huevos con chorizo, carne guisada, smoked beef – even, if you’re feeling meat-averse, a startlingly good smoked Portobello mushroom
The tender hunks of slow-stewed beef in the guisada are very good, though for richness and pure “I’m so glad I put this in my mouth”-ness, I don’t think you can beat their cochinita pibil’s pork.
The Cost: Take your pick; it’s all $3.50.
► Iguana Mexican Grill
It’s recently been renovated and redecorated to be even brighter and more festive than before – longtime regulars won’t have any trouble recognizing the restaurant or its patio, but Iguana does have a new lease on life. 9 NW 9th, OKC
The Flavor: Fish taco with elote and broccoli. The cod filet is done very well, flaky with a crisp breading and a kick from the chile aioli drizzle; I also appreciated the little extra texture and balance from the pickled onion.
If you’re in the neighborhood or can manage to be, don’t overlook the chorizo and scrambled egg Iguana taco at brunch.
The Cost: $10 for two tacos and two sides (P.S. The margarita swirl is only $5)
► Picks de Primera
We didn’t try to compile a comprehensive ranking of these taco places’ overall quality, in part because of the variety – that’d be like comparing apples to carnitas – but I would like to leave you with a few slightly more emphatic recommendations. If you haven’t tried these selections, do, and if you’re looking for the very best, start here:
• the pollo at little knight's
• michoacana's bistek
• tacos al pastor at cinco's
• barbacoa from taqueria sanchez
• durango's chorizo