My Quest to Find the Best Boston Tacos

When I decided to go to college on the East Coast, I was often asked what I would miss most about my home state, Arizona. My answer was simple: Mexican food. Growing up in a border state, fantastic Mexican food was a given; a five minute drive was all it took to get to some of the best Mexican food outside of Mexico. For me, nothing was more comforting than Mexican food. A chorizo breakfast burrito from Los Taquitos, a local Mexican restaurant, could easily turn my entire day around. But when I decided to go to school in Boston, everybody in Arizona warned me that I should avoid Mexican food in Boston like the plague, and for my first month in Boston, I did.

However, as one of my favorite food holidays, National Taco Day, approached, I started to miss the tastes of home. In Arizona, National Taco Day was celebrated by a weekend long taco festival. About fifty taco trucks would gather in a giant festival including a chili eating contest, lowrider competition, and Chihuahua beauty pageant. Although I wouldn’t be attending this year, I decided that at the very least I could honor the spirit of Taco Day by trying to find the best tacos in Boston. 


I started my hunt for tacos in Jamaica Plains, a Boston neighborhood containing the “Latin Quarter” of the city. I first stopped in Chilacates, a highly ranked taco chain with three locations around Boston. When I entered, it was just like I had stepped into a Mexican restaurant back home: the small space featured colorful decorations (featuring portraits of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo), spare seating, and a lengthy menu. Although the line was long, we were able to order quickly and our tacos came out almost instantaneously. I sampled three tacos: al pastor (a classic, and one of my favorite types of tacos), carne asada, and carnitas.

Sarah Anwar

All three tacos were incredible, but the carne asada especially stood out. The meat was tender and glistening, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly balanced with the crispy and refreshing shredded lettuce and radish. It ranks as one of the best carne asada tacos I’ve ever had, and it’s definitely worth the trip back to Jamaica Plains. If I had to describe Chilacates’ tacos in one word it would be “balanced”: all three tacos featured expert combinations of flavor and texture. The sweet pico de piña featured on their al pastor taco perfectly contrasted with the savory and spiced pork, and the lime juice on their carnitas taco complemented the meat beautifully. Chilacates stuck to the traditional, which I found was a strength rather than a weakness; they definitely had the taco basics perfected.

Casa Verde

Next, I headed across the street to try Casa Verde. From the minute I entered, it was obvious that this was a different sort of taco shop than Chilacates—where Chilacates was bright and casual, Casa Verde was dimly lit and formal. While the menu at Casa Verde was quite spare, it had a large bar and an extensive drink menu. At first glance, the menu proved to be less traditional and more experimental than that of Chilacates; it featured several vegetarian options and unusual taco flavors. We ordered three tacos: green chorizo, pescado, and carnitas.

Sarah Anwar

All three tacos were visually stunning, seemingly made for a hipster Instagram post. Of the three tacos, the pescado taco (pictured above) was a clear favorite: featuring a fried piece of tilapia, a creamy avocado sauce, and pickled cabbage. The green chorizo (below) was adventurous and flavorful, but I was disappointed by Casa Verde's carnitas. While their nontraditional approach to tacos allowed their fish taco to shine, it let down their carnitas—it strayed too far from the original, and lacked the texture that made Chilacates’s carnitas so delicious. One of the biggest downsides of Casa Verde was the price ($5-6 per taco), but it would be a great spot for date night or a fancier occasion. 

Sarah Anwar

El Pelón Taquería

My last stop was El Pelón Taquería on Peterborough Street. Of the three restaurants, this was the cheapest and closest to Boston University. Its central location near Fenway would make it a great bite after a Red Sox game or while running errands. The restaurant was colorful, homey, and comfortable, and featured extensive indoor and outdoor seating.

Since I had already eaten six tacos, I decided only to order two tacos: pollo and carne asada. The carne asada wasn’t quite as flavorful or tender as the asada at Chilacates, but I would definitely go back for their chicken taco. The chicken was incredibly tender and well-seasoned, but was slightly overwhelmed by the amount of onions, pickled cabbage, and cucumbers on top (a problem easily fixed with a fork). 

Other Places to Try

Since I was only able to try three taco shops in Boston, here are some other options around Boston. If you're looking for a more individualized taco experience, Amelia's Taquería allows customers to customize their tacos with a variety of different meats and toppings, and the results look amazing!

Sol Azteca, an authentic and high end Mexican restaurant, on Beacon Street has amazing Yelp reviews and has several taco options, including al pastor, steak, and chicken tacos. 

Or, stay in and celebrate National Taco day by making your own tacos! Here's eleven different taco recipes to choose from.

Final Thoughts

While I might not have been able to attend Arizona’s taco festival, I’m happy to say that it’s possible to get amazing tacos right here in Boston. If you have the time during National Taco Day, or any day for that matter, I would absolutely recommend taking the 30-minute T ride to get delicious tacos perfect for any mood.