Tacos! These delicious handheld marvels have stormed the culinary scene with flavors as varied as the cultures that embrace them. However, when we sit down to enjoy them, there’s often a question that looms large: what should we serve alongside these flavorful pockets? Dive into this guide as we explore some of the best side dishes to accompany your taco feast.
Just as every superhero needs a trusty sidekick, tacos, too, have their tried-and-tested partners. These classic sides are renowned for their compatibility with various taco types and are a surefire way to elevate your taco dining experience.
Perfectly ripe avocados mashed with lime, cilantro, and a hint of chili make for the legendary guacamole. It’s not just a side; it’s almost a ritual with tacos.
- Texture & Flavor: The creamy texture of guacamole contrasts beautifully with the crispiness of a hard taco shell or complements the softness of a flour tortilla. The tang of lime and the subtle heat of chili gives it a flavor kick that’s hard to resist.
- Serving Tip: Keep your guacamole chunky. Those bits of avocado offer a delightful bite. And remember, always use fresh lime juice. It’s the difference between good guacamole and great guacamole.
Pico de Gallo
A zesty mix of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime juice, pico de gallo is a refreshing salsa that packs a punch.
- Pairing Strength: Unlike heavier sauces, pico de gallo offers a light and fresh addition to your taco. It’s particularly great with fish or shrimp tacos.
- Preparation Tip: Ensure your tomatoes are ripe but firm. You want them to hold their shape but burst with flavor. Dice the ingredients uniformly for the best texture.
Wholesome Warm Sides
While cold dips and salsas are always a hit, there’s nothing like pairing your tacos with a hearty, warm side. These options bring both flavor and warmth to your taco table, ensuring a well-rounded meal.
A tantalizing blend of rice, tomatoes, and spices, Mexican rice is a comforting side that feels like a hug in a bowl.
- Why It Works: The fluffy grains absorb the robust flavors of the ingredients, making it a flavorful bite every time. Moreover, it complements the richness of meaty tacos exceptionally well.
- Cooking Tip: Rinse your rice before cooking to remove excess starch. This ensures each grain remains separate and doesn’t clump together.
Mashed and then fried with onions and spices, refried beans are the creamy counterpart to the grainy texture of rice.
- Bean Benefits: High in protein, refried beans add a nutritional boost to your taco meal. They’re particularly great with vegetarian tacos, enhancing their satiety factor.
- Serving Suggestion: Add a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top for extra richness. As the cheese melts into the warm beans, it creates a creamy layer that’s just delightful.
Cool and Crunchy Add-ons
Balance is the key to a perfect taco meal. With the richness of meat or beans, it’s essential to introduce some cool and crunchy elements. These sides not only add different textures but also cleanse the palate.
With crisp cabbage tossed in a tangy dressing, coleslaw is the refreshing side that brings a crunch to every bite.
- Why Choose Coleslaw: The acidity in coleslaw cuts through the richness of tacos, making every mouthful feel light and balanced.
- Variety Alert: Switch up your regular coleslaw with a Mexican-inspired version. Add some chopped cilantro, lime zest, and a dash of cumin to the dressing.
Juicy corn kernels mixed with herbs, cheese, and a hint of chili – this salad is a burst of flavors and textures.
- Pairing Power: Corn salad pairs excellently with chicken or cheese-stuffed tacos. The sweetness of corn complements the savory fillings.
- Preparation Tip: Grilling your corn before adding it to the salad elevates its flavor. The charred bits add a smoky dimension that’s absolutely irresistible.
Tacos, while intrinsically tied to Mexican cuisine, have been embraced by cultures worldwide. This globalization means that we have a host of international side dishes that can add a unique flair to your taco meal.
Chipotle Aioli (Spanish Influence)
This smoky and creamy concoction is Spain’s answer to the need for dipping. With the spice of chipotle and the richness of mayo, it’s a perfect fusion.
- Why It’s Perfect: The smoky kick of Chipotle adds a European touch to the tacos. This aioli serves as an excellent dip for vegetable slices or drizzled over your tacos for an added creamy kick.
- Making it At Home: Blend together mayo, smoked paprika, minced chipotle, and garlic. Season to taste and chill before serving.
Quinoa Salad (South American Touch)
Quinoa, native to Bolivia and recognized as a superfood, can be transformed into a refreshing salad. Tossed with beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and a lime dressing, it’s a nutritious and tasty side.
- Why it Complements Tacos: The nuttiness of quinoa balances the spicy and rich flavors of most tacos. Plus, it’s an excellent gluten-free grain alternative.
- Recipe Tip: Cook quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water for a richer flavor profile. Let it cool before tossing it with other salad ingredients.
Who says a taco meal can’t be rounded off with a touch of sweetness? Desserts, especially when inspired by Latin flavors, can be a delightful way to end a hearty taco meal.
Churros with Chocolate Sauce
Golden and crispy on the outside soft and warm on the inside, churros are a beloved Latin dessert.
- How it Fits: After a savory bite of tacos, a sweet touch like churros can be incredibly satisfying. The rich chocolate sauce adds an element of decadence.
- Serving Tip: Dust churros with cinnamon sugar for an extra layer of flavor and serve with spicy chocolate sauce for a kick.
Tres Leches Cake
This soft sponge cake soaked in a mix of three kinds of milk (condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream) is luxuriously moist and flavorful.
- Pairing with Tacos: It’s light yet rich, making it an ideal dessert after a hearty taco meal. The sweet milk syrup complements the spicy and savory notes of tacos.
- Baking Tip: Ensure the cake is well-pierced before pouring the milk mixture. This ensures every bit is well-soaked and luscious.
Introduction: As the world shifts towards plant-based diets, the taco realm hasn’t stayed behind. There’s a slew of vegan sides that not only cater to dietary restrictions but also bring a burst of flavor and nutrition to the table. Let’s explore some vegan wonders!
Usually a seafood-based dish, this vegan variant uses cauliflower and hearts of palm to replicate the texture while marinating in lime juice and spices.
- Why It’s Exceptional: The freshness of the ingredients provides a burst of flavor and a refreshing bite against the hearty fillings of tacos.
- Recipe Note: Dice the cauliflower finely and marinate it with other ingredients for at least 2 hours. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!
Vegan Street Corn Salad
Inspired by the famous Mexican street corn, this side is a mix of grilled corn, vegan mayo, lime, chili, and vegan parmesan.
- Flavor Profile: This salad hits all notes – tangy, spicy, and creamy. The vegan parmesan offers a salty bite, replicating the original salad’s taste.
- Grilling Tip: For added smokiness, grill the corn until it’s charred. The burnt bits bring depth to the salad.
A taco meal feels incomplete without the right beverage to wash it all down. Here are some drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, that pair beautifully with the rich and spicy flavors of tacos.
This timeless cocktail, made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, is a favorite for many taco lovers.
- Why It’s a Hit: The citrusy brightness of a margarita cleanses the palate between bites, while the salted rim complements the spicy fillings of tacos.
- Mixology Tip: Always use fresh lime juice. And if you prefer a sweeter profile, add a touch of agave syrup.
A creamy non-alcoholic Mexican drink made from rice, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Flavor Balance: The sweet and creamy horchata provides a cooling effect against spicy tacos, making it an ideal companion for those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks.
- Recipe Note: For a vegan version, swap regular milk with almond or coconut milk. The outcome is equally delightful!
In the diverse world of tacos, there’s no limit to how you can elevate the experience with an array of sides and desserts. Remember, the key is to balance flavors and textures and, most importantly, to enjoy the culinary journey!