Taste for tacos

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Taste for tacos

From authentic to American, Durango restaurants have it
Flor Castillo of Tacos Nayarit displays a plate of shrimp, beef and chicken tacos destined for a lunchtime customer at the restaurant on North Main Avenue. Owners Antonio Bogarin and Ada Garcia prepare specialties from their central Pacific coast state of Nayarit, including tacos filled with beef tongue and pork tripe.
Kitchen manager Martin Castillo listens to a customer’s request while preparing lunch orders along the taco and burrito bar at Zia Taqueria, known for its Tex-Mex-style food and locally sourced ingredients.
Luis Garcia, brother of Tacos Nayarit co-owner Ada Garcia, prepares tacos for a customer using the restaurant’s signature ingredients of onion, cilantro and lime on soft corn tortillas.
A line of customers often snakes out the door during the lunch-hour rush at Zia Taqueria on North Main Avenue in Durango.
Cody Wilderman prepares lunch orders of fresh tacos, burritos and salads at Zia Taqueria using popular ingredients such as pork and pico de gallo.
Cody Wilderman warms tortillas for a customer at Zia Taqueria, which offers both flour and corn.
Beef, chicken and shrimp tacos are authentic Mexican ingredients served at Tacos Nayarit.
Ingredients reflect the true spicy spirit of Mexico

You may never have heard of tripas (tripe) and lengua (beef tongue) or barbacoa and guajillo peppers, but those authentic Mexican ingredients find their way into tacos here in Durango.
The Mexican cooks I interviewed hail from states bordering each other north to south on the central Pacific coast. Martin Castillo, kitchen manager at Zia Taqueria, grew up in Sinaloa, home to Mazatlan. Luis Garcia, Ada Garcia and Ada’s husband, Antonio Bogarin, named their colorful restaurant after their home state of Nayarit. And even farther south, Letitia and Jose Peña, who own Emilio’s, spent their early days in Jalisco state, famous for the city of Guadalajara.
The sauces are hot, but not as hot as the states in the interior, Castillo said, and cooks tend to temper their salsas with tomatillos and peppers with less scalding attributes.
“It is cultural. The sauces are not too hot where I come from, but my wife is from central Mexico, and wow,” he said, shaking his head in admiration, “they’re hot there.”
Not to fear, however, should you want that ultimate scald to go with your taco. All the Mexican-themed restaurants in town work with enough habañero, serrano and jalapeño peppers to keep your tongue in a state of shock for the rest of the day.
Nini’s Taqueria, the Cal-Mex restaurant owned by Andy and Abby Snow, originally from New Hampshire, is beloved for its nine different salsas, the hottest three featuring roasted serranos, chipotle puree made of adobo chiles and mango habeñero.
Tacos Nayarit offers XXXhot salsa, made of habañeros and a medium heat one of tomatillos, for those saving their taste buds for the next meal.
“We call that hot sauce for a reason,” said Fred Rector, owner of Kachina Kitchen, tapping my hand as I go to put his smoky tasting red sauce on my traditional corn taco.
It’s made with tomatoes, garlic, salt and crushed red chiles (called pequin peppers, back in the day) from Hatch, N.M., where many of the ingredients for his sauces come from.
No matter which pepper it’s made from, salsa is still salsa, a familiar condiment to most American diners. But beef tongue, tripe (the stomach lining of pork), or cooked cactus – who knew?
Once again, it’s cultural. Mexican diners adore these delicacies traditional to their country. Both Leticia Peña of Emilio’s and Luis Garcia of Tacos Nayarit offer them at their restaurants and homesick countrymen happily order them up, especially on weekends when families and large gatherings of friends normally dine out.
“It’s a real taste of home,” Garcia said.
phasterok@durangoherald.com

Taste for tacos

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Flor Castillo of Tacos Nayarit displays a plate of shrimp, beef and chicken tacos destined for a lunchtime customer at the restaurant on North Main Avenue. Owners Antonio Bogarin and Ada Garcia prepare specialties from their central Pacific coast state of Nayarit, including tacos filled with beef tongue and pork tripe.
Purchase
Kitchen manager Martin Castillo listens to a customer’s request while preparing lunch orders along the taco and burrito bar at Zia Taqueria, known for its Tex-Mex-style food and locally sourced ingredients.
Purchase
Luis Garcia, brother of Tacos Nayarit co-owner Ada Garcia, prepares tacos for a customer using the restaurant’s signature ingredients of onion, cilantro and lime on soft corn tortillas.
Purchase
A line of customers often snakes out the door during the lunch-hour rush at Zia Taqueria on North Main Avenue in Durango.
Purchase
Cody Wilderman prepares lunch orders of fresh tacos, burritos and salads at Zia Taqueria using popular ingredients such as pork and pico de gallo.
Purchase
Cody Wilderman warms tortillas for a customer at Zia Taqueria, which offers both flour and corn.
Purchase
Beef, chicken and shrimp tacos are authentic Mexican ingredients served at Tacos Nayarit.
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