How to Create the Ultimate Taco Bar

Creating a taco bar gives your family members, friends, and other guests an opportunity to construct their own delicious meals. If executed adeptly, it can lead to an unforgettable culinary experience. If you botch it, your guests might not be coming back.

So what steps can you take to create the ultimate taco bar?

Include Plenty of Protein Options

The star of your taco show is going to be the protein. Every taco needs some kind of protein element to serve as the foundation for the dish. If you want to broadly appeal to your guests and give them multiple different ways to build their tacos, ensure you include many different types of protein.

If you have an outdoor flat top grill, you can make quick work of the meat. You can grill diced chicken, grill up some chorizo, prepare some beef, and prepare other meat options. Ensure you include a blend of Mexican seasonings like garlic, oregano, and chili powder.

Also, don’t forget about your vegetarian and vegan guests. Vegetarians’ best protein options include black beans, pinto beans, and tofu.

The more protein options you add, the more possible combinations you introduce to the group. If there are two protein options, there are three types of tacos to make: two types with a single protein and one with a mix of both. With three protein options, seven types of tacos can be made.

Offer Hard and Soft Shells

Similarly, you should offer options for the shell of the taco. Some people prefer a hard shell’s stability and tasteful crunch, while others prefer a soft shell for its malleability and more forgiving texture. Some guests may even want to build a specialty item with both shells together.

Mix Up the Dairy Selection

While making a dairy-free taco is possible, most of us want at least some readily available cheese and sour cream options. Unfortunately, choosing cheeses can be very difficult. You’ll need to balance flavor, texture, and suitability with your other ingredients when choosing these cheeses – or you can throw caution to the wind and simply select a few kinds of cheese at random.

Some of the most common types of cheese to include in tacos are cheddar, pepper jack, Manchego, fontina, Swiss, and mozzarella – but feel free to get experimental. Also, make sure some sour cream is available; you can spice it up by including some peppers mixed in with the sour cream.

Sample the Salsas

Image by Tesa Robbins from Pixabay

A spoonful of salsa can instantly elevate your tacos to the next level, giving you a cold and liquid texture with a complex taste and some extra spiciness. But, like with meats and cheeses, it’s important to have options. Make sure you have at least one mild salsa and at least one spicy salsa available to your guests – and make sure they’re labeled properly. It’s also a good idea to set out some tortilla chips so your guests can sample the flavors before committing to one.

Include Some Fresh, Crunchy Options

Your taco bar should also include some fresh, crunchy options like:

  • Lettuce. Iceberg or romaine are the standard options here.
  • Red onions. Finely diced red onions can add a powerful flavor; it’s also possible to pickle red onions for a sweet and sour punch.
  • Peppers. Bell peppers, jalapenos, and habaneros are just a few options for peppers to include with the meal.

Offer Some Helpful Ideas

What about guests inexperienced in the taco-building world? Consider offering some helpful ideas and guiding guests to build the best tacos (as you envision them). It’s also a great way to stimulate conversation between guests as you finish cooking.

Don’t Forget About the Cleanup

Is it possible to eat a taco without getting messy? It’s possible to treat this as an open-ended and thoughtful philosophical question – but the simple answer is no. Tacos are messy food, so make sure your taco bar has plenty of cleanup and mess management options.

  • Plates and serving options. Big, sturdy plates are an absolute must; they can keep the mess relatively contained even in a chaotic environment.
  • Napkins. Set out plenty of napkins and paper towels so guests can keep sauces off their fingers.
  • Washing availability. Is there a place where guests can conveniently wash up when they’re finished eating? Direct people if necessary.

It’s impossible for the perfect taco to exist because everyone prefers something different. But it is possible to build the perfect taco bar, with plenty of options to please even the pickiest eaters in your friend group or family. Since many of these ingredients are easy to prepare, there’s no excuse for not having an ample setup in place.

Featured Image by Tim Toomey from Pixabay