Most people (outside of Atlanta) don’t realize this, but Atlanta is really becoming a melting pot. Majority of the people who live here aren’t even from here. We are a city of transplants, which also means we are a city of a lot of immigrants too! Which I love! I think that is Atlanta’s best kept secret and what makes us special. A melting pot of different cultures is what I loved most about where I grew up. I am so happy that I get to share at least a piece of that upbringing with my son. Atlanta is no way the melting pot NY is, but we are moving in that direction.
Here in Atlanta, there is a long road called Buford Highway. This road is home to some of the best restaurants in the city, everything from Korean to Mexican. It was on this road, that I learned about real Mexican tacos from a taqueria. This is where I fell in love with Mexican food and learned that most chains don’t do Mexican food any justice (I guess restaurant chains don’t do ANY food justice). I actually have learned a lot about food from different cultures from Buford Highway, but this post is specifically about Mexican food. We will have to talk about the Asian scene in another post.
Our favorite taqueria was called El Senor Taco (I have heard they have since closed since we have been on our eating out hiatus). Here, I tasted a real taco of braised or griddled bits of meat on a freshly made corn tortilla, topped with only cilantro, onion, and a squeeze of lime. Perfection in something so simple. Before eating here, I didn’t even like corn tortillas. When you have fresh corn tortillas, you fall in love. The flavor is the perfect conduit for the meat drippings. Anything you buy in the grocery store is subpar, even most chain restaurants use pre-made corn tortillas, which is pretty sad. If you think you don’t like corn tortillas, give fresh ones a try.
My favorite tacos at El Senor were the carne asada and the pescado (fish). We have not been able to find a pescado taco like El Senor’s anywhere in Atlanta. At El Senor’s they fried the fish (tilapia), then topped it with shredded cabbage, pico, and crema. So good! I much prefer fried fish tacos over grilled fish. I love the combination of the crispy exterior of the fish with the soft tortilla and pico. So this is my hat tip to El Senor Taco and all of the Mexican taquerias here in Atlanta! Because of you, we know what authentic Mexican food really tastes like. We love you and are happy you are here.
Taqueria Fish Tacos
6 roma tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
2 small serrano, minced
scant 1/2 cup of finely chopped onions
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds of cod, cut into even strips (approx 18 pieces)
1 cup self -rising flour
1 cup beer
2 tsp salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
oil, for frying (we like peanut)
warm corn tortillas, for serving
1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
3 limes, for serving
Mexican crema or sour cream, for serving
In a medium bowl, stir together tomatoes, Serrano, onions cilantro and salt. Set aside.
In a heavy bottom pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Season the cod with 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of freshly black pepper. In a medium bowl, add self rising flour, and whisk in beer, 1 tsp salt and a few grinds of freshly black pepper. Dip each piece of fish in the batter, let the excess drip off. Place in the hot oil and fry 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Add a couple more pieces of battered fish to the hot oil. Fry no more than three pieces at a time. To keep the fish hot while frying the rest, place on a cooling rack in the oven, on the lowest setting.
Warm the corn tortillas in a dry pan over medium-high heat. (never in the microwave). Place a piece of cod on a tortilla, top with shredded cabbage, pico, a drizzle of crema and a squeeze of lime.