Friday, August 31, 2007

Tacos arabes y orientales



I was really excited to try these. I just loved the idea of “Oriental tacos.” I didn’t expect flying carpets or Buddha figures, but I’d read a little bit about “tacos arabes” in Puebla on Chowhound, and I’d imagined a beautiful collision between shwarmas and tacos to create something completely, fabulously new.

So after three months of thinking about them, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed when I finally got to La Antequera in Colonia Reforma, on Calzada Porfirio Diaz a few blocks north of Belisario Dominguez. The menu listed quesadillas, tortas, and two types of tacos, “arabes” and “orientales.”

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

“Arabes are larger, orientales are smaller.”

A truly unexciting answer. Still, I ordered one of each and a side of “cebollas,” imagining unctuous, rich, sautéed onions.



When they arrived, they just sat there like limp rags. The “arabe” taco had, instead of a corn tortilla, a slightly thicker bread around it. It wasn’t quite like pita, a little chewy, a little floury. The bread had good flavor, and the meat inside it was salty and flavorful also, but there was nothing else going on. It came with a side of tart red salsa, and I sprinkled it on liberally, but there was nothing else to help it gain some dimension. The onions turned out to be quite pale, not at all caramelized as I’d hoped, and watery to boot.

The “orientale” was a smaller version, with a tortilla wrapped around. Just like the waiter said.

I think the experience could have been different in a group. I can imagine a happy table of friends sitting around a plate filled with meat, another plate stacked high with hot pita-like breads, drinking beer and making tacos one after the other. But my two sad little tacos and even sadder bowl of chopped onions wasn’t that.

If you are meat-lover, you are more likely to fall head over heels in love with the "carne frita" or fried meat of pork at El Biche Pobre.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

TACOS ARABES IS A ONE OF A KIND TACO LIKE NO OTHER IN THE WORLD . I UNDER STAND THAT MANY WILL SAY THAT THERE ARE BETTER BU SIMPLY THE FLAVOR OF THE MEAT ... AND #1 THE HOT SAUCE SHOULD TASTE LIKE NO OTHER . THAT AND CEMITAS WOULD BE THE FIRST ENTREES ID ORDER WHEN I ARRIVE IN PUEBLA FROM CALIFORNIA. AMERICANS ONLY THINK OF CUANTITY WHEN ITS QUALITY WHAT PUEBLA KNOWS.

Michael Warshauer said...

I had some Tacos Árabes at La Lechuza in Oaxaca, and enjoyed them. However, those we arte at La Rana in Puebla were better.

lfitz81 said...

Ok if you want taco arabes that are different then head to El Beduino of xalapa. it is about 2 hours from puebla going east to veracruz. they use differnt method of cooking and ingredients. Everything is made by hand right down to the "pan Arabe" they also have falafel like no other, they even make their own Tahini...try it is is out of this world. They are located on Callejon diamante.

Anonymous said...

All the tacos arabes I tried outside Puebla were not excellent. Maybe some were good but the majority were rubbish. You need to try them in Puebla. They are not "complicated" tacos, they don't have that much inside (like the plazeros or al pastor) but the deliciousness is in the meet and the sauce.

Erik Morales said...

I had tacos arabes in Merida, Yucatan several months back. They were f***ing delicious. The place I ate them at also put chicharron inside--not wet/stewed chicharron, but the dry kind, like pork rinds. It was a little outdoor place on Montejo, a block or two from La Musa, for those of you who know the city. If I remember correctly there were grilled onions mixed in with the meat, which was extremely flavorful, tender, and quite juicy. It left me with a good feeling and now that I'm writing about them I'm craving them.

I disagree that "Americans" only care about quantity. That's an ignorant generalization.

lfitz81 said...

I agree most tacos arabe are really bad outside puebla....but El Beduino in Xalapa is absolutely the best I have ever had. I have been to puebla many many times and there is only one place that the tacos arabes are what they should be and more. El beduino en callejon diamante in xalapa is absolutely the best i have ever had...try the falafel also.

Robert said...

I also encountered tacos arabes in Merida, Mexico and found them to be one of the best tacos i ate while traveling. The part I enjoyed most was this creamy garlic sauce served on the side, I was curious if this was common with tacos arabes around different parts of mexico.