We should probably get this out of the way right up front. Cinco de Mayo is not, as a lot of people think (including me up until ten or so years ago), Mexican Independence Day (if you'd like to celebrate that, you'll have to wait unit September 16, 2022. It would be a good thing to celebrate!).
Cinco de Mayo is the commemoration of the Mexican army's victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. It's also known as Battle of Puebla Day (which seems fitting!). In Mexico, the holiday is actually a pretty minor one.
Over the years, it seems like Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. has taken on a bit of a St. Patrick's Day tone. It feels like an excuse for Americans to celebrate something, anything! And I'm certainly OK with that! If you need a reason to drink tequila, eat tacos, and dance, then this is your day. Just FYI, I'm OK with those activities the other 364 days too. 😀
All right, now that we have that very, very brief history lesson out of the way, let's get to the reason for this piece. TACOS!
Sarasota has its share of great taco joints. I think the word "joint" is appropriate here, and I mean it with all of the love that's intended. We're going to try and keep this brief in an attempt not to confuse anyone with the facts (plus, these are all opinions anyway).
We also don't want to get into a taco-fueled brawl trying to justify who has the best tacos in town. However, if you'd like to debate that point, the Facebook group Sarasota Foodies is an excellent forum! And there some are very passionate eaters who know their Sarasota cuisine contributing to that page!
These are places that do tacos. These aren't places that serve tacos in addition to cheeseburgers and grouper sandwiches. I think you know what we're getting at here, right? Tacos are their specialty, period! (Sure, you may be able to get a burrito or a torta as well).
Here we go. First up (again, these are not in order of preference) is the Island House Taqueria (2773 Bee Ridge Rd., (941) 922-8226). All of the places that we're going to mention attempt to keep things as authentic as possible. Island House goes all out to deliver a super genuine product. We're talking about grinding in-house the imported blue heirloom corn used to make the nixtamal for their homemade tortillas (check out the video at the end of the post)! That's dedication to the process! If real authentic Al Pastor tacos are your thing, you'll need to get yours cut directly off Island House's trompo!
Over at Reyna's Taqueria (935 N. Beneva Rd., (941) 260-8343), Chef Gino Calleja puts together some delicious and authentic taco creations. On Tuesdays (hey, that's today!), they serve some really, really great birria tacos! Reyna's is in the process of opening a second location at 8201 South Tamiami Trail. That should make all of the south county folks very happy!
In 2018 Chef Malin Parker opened his Gulf Gate vision for what tacos should be all about. Screaming Goat Taqueria (6606 Superior Ave., (941) 210-3992) is everything this casual cuisine should be and more. In short, it's a taco assembly line. More importantly, it's YOUR taco assembly line! You can create your own taco creation from the common and uncommon ingredients that the folks at Screaming Goat prep fresh every day. If veggie tacos are your thing, this is your place. Lots of great options here. Like Reyna's, Screaming Goat is opening a second location. Theirs will be located in the downtown Sarasota neighborhood of Burns Court. Keep an eye out for that.
They may be last in this particular list, but they have certainly carved out a place in our crowded Sarasota taco scene. Of course, we're talking about Circo (1435 2nd St. (941) 253-0978). When we first started our Bulletin newsletter last summer, we featured their walking taco in one of our very first pieces. It's definitely worth re-reading. That walking taco is now part of their permanent menu. It's good. You should have one! I'm also a BIG fan of their Mongolian beef taco (above). This is a very casual place where you can also get a great glass of bourbon! Bourbon and tacos, they're starting a thing over there on 2nd Street!
Are tacos from a food truck the way you'd rather celebrate your Cinco de Mayo? That is not a problem. We've got a few recommendations from three of our best mobile taco vendors.
If you're cruising down Bee Ridge Road, Manny's Taco's To-Go (4445 Bee Ridge Rd. - Nick's Bar Parking Lot) is your stop. Easy in and out!
You can usually find Dona Betty Tacos (Dona Betty Tacos Facebook Page) up in the Bradenton area. Folks have been enjoying their tacos for years!
And finally, Fire Tacos (Fire Tacos Facebook Page). They're normally on South Packinghouse Road. Sometimes they keep some funky hours. But if you can catch them when they're dishing out delicious food from the window, you'll come away a happy taco camper!
Before we wind this up, we’ve got a treat for you. Have you ever wondered how fresh corn tortillas are made? Well, wonder no longer! The folks at Island House Taqueria gave us a lesson on how they make their wonderful, homemade, blue heirloom corn tortillas. Thanks, Maria! Have a look...
As we usually do, let's recap. Cinco de Mayo, it is not Mexican Independence Day. But IT IS a great day to eat some authentic, locally made tacos. You can maybe toast the day with a refreshing margarita (or chilled tequila of your choice, Salud!) and at the same time support our Sarasota taco-making community!
Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting. All you need to do is make that reservation. We’ve provided you with a link to more info.
🗓️ SARASOTA FOOD EVENTS 🗓️
🧑🌾 FARMER’S MARKET INFO 🧑🌾
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