, 2022-10-05 08:00:00,
It’s easy to skip over the sides at a taqueria or Mexican restaurant and just focus on eating as many tacos as possible. But such negligence can leave you not fully experiencing a place. The range of side dishes and their variations can be daunting. There are traditional options, such as elotes, but there are also inventive choices, such as assorted takes on the humble potato. Below, I break down and rank ten commonly found sides from worst to best.
10. Corn Ribs
Although Austin restaurant Hai Hai Ramen may have been serving corn ribs since 2016, it wasn’t until 2021 that a TikTok video that turned them into a viral sensation. The seasoned corncob slivers have been served at Nixta Taqueria in Austin and Stixs & Stone in San Antonio. Whether plated in fetching curls or stacked like yellow Lincoln Logs, they’re a finger-food nightmare. The innermost part of an ear of corn is not appetizing, and neither is the dish known as corn ribs.
Avocados are expensive. Plus, they have a short shelf life that requires a sixth sense to determine optimal ripeness, and their most common application, guacamole, is easily botched. It’s even worse when a taqueria or restaurant showcases table-side guacamole as Mexican culinary theater, and you watch as the prized fruit becomes a paste infested with unnecessary ingredients. Let’s get something straight: mashed avocados are great, but only when treated with respect, which means minimal adulteration. No peas. No plastic-tasting tomatoes. No garlic powder. And don’t place guacamole on a bed of wilted, browning lettuce. Salt, lime, maybe chiles, and it’s perfect, which is how it’s prepared at José in Dallas.
8. Rice and Beans
Rice and beans are an omnipresent duo in Mexican food, so they are often taken for granted on taco plates or Tex-Mex combo platters. The rice is often stale or gummy. The beans, usually served refried with a sprinkle of queso fresco or melted cheddar, quickly cool from a semisolid state to a hardened disc better used as a projectile weapon or for disc golf. One exception is the rice and beans at Hugo’s in Houston, where simplicity defines the standard.
7. Tortilla Soup
Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the tortilla soup served at most taquerias and restaurants just bouillon cube–seasoned water with commodity tortillas sliced into strips?…
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