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Taco obsession is not a new phenomenon, but regardless if you’ve been in Knoxville a little over a year (like me, Iliana!) or you’re Knox born and bred, finding the perfect taco can feel like a never-ending quest (albeit a fun one). Here are five spots we’ve been returning to lately: (Dare we say, the best tacos in Knoxville??😳)
Holy frijole (corny pun completely intended), this spot is incredible! We’ve never known a bad taco at El Tipico, but the shrimp and pastor (pictured above) are must-haves. Wrapped in two corn tortillas, your choice of meat is served hot off the grill, topped with cilantro and grilled onions, which give these tacos a fajita-like familiarity. You’re in for something special with their crispy tacos hondureños—in fact, check out their other Honduran offerings as well. Add some rice and beans and call it good. Try the fried chicken with plantains (pollo con tajadas) and call it real good.
Situated in the back of a tienda (store), La Ezperanza has some of the best tacos in the city. Slide into one of their orange booths and pick your favorite—our recommendations are the asada and the tripas. The tripas themselves are light and perfectly crispy around the edges, and adding their famous green sauce will only up the ante on the flavor. Pair with a cold Modelo with lime and don’t forget to grab some Mexican candy on your way out!
Say hello to the winner of Best Latino Restaurant in the 2020 Centro Hispano de East Tennessee Latino Awards! In their horchata (a rice drink over ice), the vanilla and Mexican cinnamon really come through and perfectly complement the spicy bite of their salsas. We like their traditional take on the street taco and would recommend the asada, pollo, and chicharron, all topped with raw onions and lots of cilantro. At the register, be sure to grab a bag of colorful conchas (Mexican sweet bread) for the perfect dessert.
What began in a food truck is now a Knoxville staple with two brick-and-mortar locations, specializing in Mexican street tacos. The chorizo and barbacoa are ones we frequently order, but they are all equally delicious. Add a large horchata and you’re in for the perfect meal. If you want to venture into something other than tacos, we highly recommend the asada fries—a generous helping of fries topped with grilled steak, guacamole, sour cream, and pico de gallo, perfect for sharing (or not!😂).
How could we not mention one of our favorite places in the city? Chivo’s tacos are the product of classic meets contemporary. We always start with their chips and guacamole, and Chivo might have some of the best chips and guac we’ve ever had (a bold statement, we know… and Taco Tako does give them a run for their money – oh, and Babalu! Okay, so clearly we need to round up the best guacomole in town😂). We digress. Their chips are the perfect thickness and the guacamole is the right amount of limey. The Gangnam Style and #steaknews really showcase Chivo’s fresh take on the taco, and their comprehensive tequila list is expertly curated. Make sure to take pics of their beautiful murals located throughout the restaurant before you leave.
What better time than summer to venture out around the city and revisit your old haunts, as well as discover some new favorites? Tacos are the perfect complement to the season because of their nostalgia—I have wonderful memories of sitting on a patio in the sun, squeezing lots and lots of lime on my tacos, sipping on a margarita surrounded by those I love. True comfort food. So invite out a group of friends or a first date (ooh la la) and head to the places on this list — or start exploring and find even more spots! Either way, you won’t be disappointed. And, if you’re interested in more ways to support the Latino community in Knoxville, head on over to Centro Hispano de East Tennessee.
Feeling more like the best burgers tonight instead of the best tacos? Get a list of our favorites here!
Check out the drive-thru only La Herradura on Kingston Pike!
Publish date: 27 July.