What is a Street Taco?

The term street taco refers to small, soft corn tortilla encased tacos, meant to be eaten out of hand, sold and consumed on the street.  They originated in Mexico as a popular lunch option for time-strapped workers, and then made their way to the U.S., arriving with Mexican immigrants, probably in the very early 1900s.  

Steak Street Tacos

Mexican street tacos can be filled with any number of things, often meat of some sort.  They might be topped very sparsely, though when you are preparing them to eat at home you can get more ambitious with the garnishes.  On the street they are meant to be eaten in a few bites, and too much filling can get messy.  In fact, that’s the reason many street tacos incorporate two soft corn tortillas: this prevents any saucy filling from seeping through the outside, and I’ve also read that sometimes people redistribute the filling between the two tortillas to make the folding and eating easier.  I stuck with one tortilla, but you should feel free to make that decision for yourself.

(also see How to Warm Tortillas)

This recipe was largely inspired by a recipe I saw William Horst (@hooked_on_bbq) make for @thefeedfeed.  He made his on a griddle on the grill, but I translated the recipe to a cast iron skillet indoors, so we could have them year-round.  

Street Taco Recipe

Best Steak for Tacos

I used skirt steak in these tacos, which is one of my favorite cuts of steak to prepare, and one of my guys’ favorite cuts to eat.  You really could use any tender cut of beef here; flank steak is another good and easy-to-find option.

Obviously tacos need to contain small pieces of meat, whether it’s ground meat, shredded meat, thin sliced meat, or, as in this case, cubed meat.  In this skirt steak tacos, the small pieces of diced meat absorb the marinade really well, so there is amazing flavor all throughout.  

Steak Street Tacos

You won’t get that kind of marinade penetration when marinating a steak of another large piece of meat.  If you allow a large piece of meat to marinate for a long enough time to really penetrate throughout, you run the risk of altering the texture of the meat, particularly if there is citrus juice or another acid in the marinade.  Here the ½-inch cubes allow the marinade to penetrate thoroughly and quickly, resulting in very flavorful beef.  

Skirt Steak Tacos: Tender cubes of flavorful beef soak up a simple marinade to become one of the best soft tacos ever.

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Lime with Tacos

There are many tacos that benefit from a last squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice at the end.  I find this especially true of steak tacos and fish tacos, which really seems to benefit from a final burst of citrus.  Make sure to supply those lime wedges for your diners to squeeze over their assembled tacos.

Skirt Steak Tacos

If you do choose to make these on the grill, Horst suggests thinking about slicing some limes in half and grilling them, cut side down, which will caramelize them a bit and add some more flavor and sweetness to the juice when you squeeze them over your taco fillings.  I love this technique, and often do this with lemons, but switching it up to limes is a great suggestion.

Steak Street Taco Toppings:

If you wanted to hit these tacos with a squeeze of lime and call it a day, you surely could.  The meat is plenty flavorful on its own.  But most of the time, we like to keep going with our toppings, because topping tacos is just plain fun.

Try pico de gallo or salsa ranchera, fresh cilantro leaves, minced onion, lime wedges, and/or sliced or diced avocados.

Steak Street Tacos

What to Serve with Steak Street Tacos:

You don’t need much – when you think about it, they are a pretty complete little package, what with the tortilla, the meat, and the toppings.  But if you want to round out the plate, think about:

How to Make Street Tacos

Other Taco Recipes:

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Steak Street Tacos

Tender cubes of flavorful beef soak up a simple marinade to become one of the best soft tacos ever.
Yield: 4 People

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pounds skirt or flank steak , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 12 small flour or corn tortillas (see Note)

To Serve:

Directions

  • In a medium bowl or container or sipper top bag, combine the soy sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil, orange juice, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Stir or mash it around to blend well. Add the steak cubes and toss to coat them thoroughly with the marinade. Seal or cover, and marinate in the fridge from 2 to 6 hours.
  • Heat a large pan, preferably cast iron, over high heat. When the pan is hot, heat the tortillas – one or two at a time, as many as will fit in a single layer, for about 30 to 45 second per side, until brown spots appear. Remove the tortillas as they are cooked to a stack on the side.
  • When the tortillas are cooked, return the pan to high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade and add the steak in a single layer into the pan. Use tongs or a spatula to tun the cubes of meat as they get color on the bottom; you are looking for light caramelization, so don’t keep moving the meat around too frequently, or it will cook but not sear. There will be some marinade released from the steak in the pan, which will evaporate as the meat cooks, allowing it to brown. Cook for a total of about 6 minutes, until the steak is nicely browned on at least a couple of sides of the pieces, and the center of the cubes reaches 135-145°F. Remove the steak from the pan to a plate.
  • Serve the meat with the cooked tortillas and the topping of your choice.

Notes

There are actually soft tacos available in many supermarkets that are labeled “street taco tortillas”, which refer to their small size, the size of the tacos sold and eaten out of hand on the street in Mexico and other places where tacos reign king as street food. You can use other 6-inch taco tortillas if you can find the very small street taco tortillas, and just make slightly larger tacos.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 546kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 56g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1030mg | Potassium: 938mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 650IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 6mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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Comments

  1. Made this recipe twice,the first time was only marinated for 1/2 hour. We liked it so well we made it at our vacation house including 8 grandchildren. It was a hit with everyone and went well with Mexican Street corn. Easy to make and liked by all.

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