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Perfect pairings: Tacos and tequila

No dish and drink combo says summertime like fresh tacos and ice cold margaritas, and we’re here to point out some of the best options in Buffalo.

Crispy fried cod taco & cucumber cilantro serrano pepper margarita

You won’t know you love crunchy cricket brittle in creamy guac if you don’t give it a try, and Casa Azul owner and chef Zina Lapi is all about getting customers to eat outside of their comfort zone. With options like sweetbread (thymus gland) with habanero onion, crispy fried tequila-cured veal and spicy aioli; and the Birria, which features tender braised goat, radish, and aguacate salsa, Lapi’s definitely helping locals try some new flavors.

All tacos are phenomenal, but the crispy fried cod with beet marinated onion, avocado puree and spicy herb aioli on a red beet-infused tortilla (all tortillas are homemade and hand pressed) was the star of the meal. Also new is a menu of margaritas perfect for pairing, including the cucumber cilantro serrano pepper margarita.

“We don’t use sweetener, only fresh ingredients and high-quality spirits to naturally flavor and sweeten the drinks,” Lapi explained. “We use Blanco tequila and Añejo—extra aged tequila—which brings out a subtle sweetness on its own. We finish it off with Cointreau, an orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice before adding other fun flavors, creating a nice balanced base.”

Casa Azul
128 Genesee St.

Lobster taco & Boom blood orange hibiscus margarita

Deep South Taco won the respect of many with their unofficial no-naked-chip nachos by loading cheese on the bottom, too. Genius! They keep that respect by ensuring we never get bored with the tacos. Specialties include the Texas Taco, piled with brisket chili, crunchy cabbage, charro beans and chihuahua cheese; it pairs well with the Get the Stretch margarita, offsetting the brisket’s smokiness with fresh citrus flavors.

The lobster tacos come crispy or grilled (delicious either way) with a slightly spicy, smoky chipotle crema, crisp cabbage, creamy avocado and salsa fresca. Pair that with the Boom margarita, made with orange agave nectar, blood oranges, hibiscus, orange curaçao and Olmeca Altos Reposado tequila.

“Without a doubt you’d want to pair the lobster taco with the Boom,” explains Steve Kowalczwk, general manager of the Transit Road location. “When you throw in the citrus and hibiscus flavors with the freshness of the lobster, they blend together quite nicely.”

Deep South Taco
291 Ellicott St.1707 Hertel Ave.
6727 Transit Road

Dirty South buttermilk fried chicken taco & cilantro lime margarita

Although they toy with the occasional variation of tequila cocktails and sangrias, Lloyd Taco Factory wanted to create an original margarita that pairs well with everything on the menu. The result: the classic cilantro lime margarita, made from scratch. Fresh squeezed lime juice and herbs create a nice balance that prevents the drink from being too artificially sweet.

You can definitely taste the cilantro, so if you’re not a fan, tell the bartender. It pairs well with any taco, but the Dirty South buttermilk fried chicken taco is the perfect pairing: with savory bacon aioli, crunchy waffle crisps, maple syrup and baby kale, it goes nicely with the fresh, light cocktail.

Lloyd Taco Factory
1503 Hertel Ave.
5933 Main St.

Chorizo tacos & mango margarita

Old-school favorite Gramma Mora’s sticks with classic tacos: hard or soft shell, filled with chorizo, hot sauce, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese. The chorizo comes from an old family recipe, dating back to the days when Mercedes (Gramma Mora) cooked in her own kitchen.

“I used to go to the family’s house for dinner as a kid, and my friend’s mother (Gramma Mora) would be cooking tortillas and chorizo, always homemade authentic Mexican cuisine,” explained Mary Giglia, longtime waitress. Packed with flavor, the chorizo is more tangy than your basic taco meat, so it’s best paired with something sweet like the Mango margarita, made with Patron Silver tequila, Mango Citron, simple syrup and lime juice.

Gramma Mora’s
1465 Hertel Ave.

Koreatown taco & spicy jalapeno margarita

The Koreatown, one of the many popular taco options at Cantina Loco, is loaded with tender Kalbi short ribs, with a nice kick from the crunchy kimchi and spicy sauce. Ordering it means you already like some spice, so the jalapeno margarita may be just the pairing. The drink includes chipotle simple syrup with muddled fresh jalapenos, rimmed with a secret blend of salt and spice—giving the drink elements of citrus, spice and smoke to compliment the short ribs.

Cantina Loco
191 Allen St.

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