In 2016, Americans ate over 4.5 billion tacos, and those numbers continue to rise. The simplicity, the tastiness and the variety of modifications can please even the pickiest of palates.

My own taco love affair began with a small neighborhood restaurant called Pozole, which was tucked away behind the Dark Horse Tavern in Virginia-Highland. I called it my home for several years when I was working my way through school at Georgia State, first as a hostess and later as a server. Sadly, Pozole has since shuttered its doors, but I have great memories. And their $1 taco night pulled pulled me through many a financially tight time.

Now, the concept behind tacos is pretty simple, and their origin is contentious, storied, and not necessarily the most glamorous. While native cultures in both North and South America relied upon corn for a number of uses spanning the past millennia, and there is evidence that baked corn cakes were wrapped around fish and insects long before written history, it is commonly accepted that the tacos we know today can be traced most directly to an evolution of Mexican street food.

Though the onset of colonialism and the impact of European and American tastes has undoubtedly taken tacos in a direction away from their cultural origins, the dish remains a staple of what we consider Mexican cuisine. In Atlanta, there are plenty of places to get a delicious taco, so for this month’s food feature, I checked out four of them.

904 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30316 or (404) 748-9254
Rajas vegetarian:
melted poblano peppers, onions, mushrooms, and chipotle sauce on a house made corn tortilla ($3.50)
Al Pastor: braised pork butt, pineapple, corn tortilla, sweet onions and cilantro on a house made corn tortilla ($4)
Breakfast: scrambled eggs, potatoes, pico de Gallo, sweet onions and cilantro, and optional chorizo on a house made flour tortilla ($2.50)

99 Krog St NE, Atlanta, GA 30307 or (678) 791-1310
Chicken Tinga:
shredded lettuce, tomato, and cheese, morita chili braised chicken
Picadillo: shredded lettuce, tomato, and cheese, spiced ground beef ($14)

The Original El Taco
1186 North Highland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30306 or (404) 873-4656
Fried Chicken:
grilled corn, chili mayo, cojita cheese, cilantro ($4)
Smoked Chicken: guacamole, crema, fried jalapenos, cilantro ($4)
Chorizo: potato, poblanos, arbol sauce ($4)

Taqueria Del Sol
359 W. Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030 or (404) 377-7668
chopped smoked pork with a spicy jalapeno cole slaw and tequila BBQ sauce ($2.69)
Carnita: twice cooked tender pork with salsa frita, cilantro, and onions ($2.99)
Brisket: shredded beef brisket with pico de gallo ($2.79)

Isadora Pennington

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.