Tacos are one of the most delicious and perfect foods on earth, and we’re thankfully living in an era when a high-quality Mexican street-style taco is within driving distance of just about everyone in America. Don’t believe us? Then keep reading to learn where to find the best taco in every state and the District of Columbia.
If you don’t already believe that we’re living in a golden age for food-lovers, look no further than the taco. It wasn’t so long ago that when most of us thought of a taco, we thought of the classic hard-shell Taco Bell-style taco filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. And though that’s still a Tex-Mex classic, the tide is finally starting to turn, with more and more of us realizing that real Mexican tacos are served on soft corn tortillas, filled with grilled or braised meat or vegetables, and simply topped with diced onions, cilantro, and maybe a little salsa. Not only are these a completely different dish than what we grew up eating on taco night, they’re becoming a lot easier to find in just about every corner of America.
Thanks in a large part to the Mexican diaspora (as well as homesick Texas expats), some truly great taquerías are popping up in some unexpected places. In cities as far-flung as Missoula, Montana, and Waitsfield, Vermont, enterprising restaurateurs have recognized a gap in the market and are going above and beyond to fill it. You might think that it’s impossible to find a great taco in Idaho, but in today’s interconnected age, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In order to find the best taco in every state, we started with the top-ranked tacos from this year’s listing of the Best Tacos in America. We then consulted with our contingent of city editors from across the country, checked local rankings, and researched review sites to see which ones got the highest marks from in-the-know locals. We then judged each contender on quality of ingredients, skill in preparation, level of local renown, and authenticity; most of these tacos fit within the framework of the classic Mexican street taco, but we provided some leeway to allow for different styles (like Baja-style fish tacos) and for culinary creativity.
Read on to learn about where to find the best taco in your state. And the next time somebody tells you that you can’t find a great taco outside of a handful of states, you can remind them that though that might have been true 20 years ago, times have changed, and that’s something for which we should be very thankful.