By BENJAMIN ZACK • Standard-Examiner staff
There are good tacos in Ogden.
A lot of them.
There are so many restaurants making great tacos here that we at the Standard-Examiner tried to make a little sense out of the countless options available.
A quick search on Yelp brings up 112 choices for tacos in or near Ogden. I haven’t tried them all (yet) so I’m not going to claim to rank the very best tacos. Plus, we’ve seen the arguments that unfold on Facebook over this issue and I’m not about to pick that fight.
Instead, I spent a week going to nine local eateries with the goal of building a list of where to get authentic tacos, depending on what exactly you’re looking for. I am by no means a food critic or expert. I am just a guy who lives in Ogden and really likes tacos.
So, if you are in the mood for...
Street tacos that are really on the street
Taqueria La Tapatia
Washington Blvd. between 25th and 26th
La Tapatia has a physical restaurant on Grant Avenue, but they’re probably better known for their taco carts on Washington and 26th Street. On an unusually warm January afternoon, I stopped at the a cart for chicken and carne asada tacos. There is a big appeal to eating a quick, cheap lunch, dining on the grassy area downtown. La Tapatia puts a massive amount of meat into each taco which makes lunch both filling and satisfyingly messy. Expect a crowd if you go on Wednesday with nice weather — tacos are two for $1.50.
3359 Grant Ave.
Several restaurants in town make their own tortillas, but Chila’s are exceptional. They’re extra thick and absorbent but still just a little crisp after being cooked.
I was excited for the excuse to go to Chila’s again after eating here several months ago, when I ate some of the best chicken tacos I’ve ever had. When I went there this time, they had run out of chicken. Instead, I tried the carne asada (beef), suadero (brisket) and cabeza (head.) The cabeza was soft and flavorful and the best of the bunch.
Most of the tacos are only a $1 each and Chila’s is one of the many Ogden taquerias that has taco deals every Wednesday.
Mariscos El Pariente
385 Patterson St.
El Pariente has a robust menu of Mexican seafood dishes. The owners expanded the restaurant in early 2017 and added fish and shrimp tacos to the menu at that time. The fish tacos are different from all of the street tacos on the list, but that isn’t a bad thing — the large and delicious tacos come with a heavy layer of cabbage, pico de gallo and avocado over a several pieces of fried fish.
Each small table in the restaurant is topped with half a dozen different types of hot sauce and there is a large salsa bar along one wall, so there a plenty of options for dressing your taco.
Late night tacos
Rancherito’s Mexican Food
3527 Washington Blvd.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t optimistic about getting tacos from a 24-hour fast-food chain. I stopped by Rancherito’s new location near Washington Boulevard and Riverdale Road around midnight on a Friday after a friend’s birthday party. They serve a variety of taco plates with cheese, rice and refried beans but signs around the store also advertised new street tacos.
I kept it simple with a few carne asada tacos, and I was surprised by how good they were. They were simple but tasty, and they’re cheap and available any time of the day or night.
2665 Washington Blvd.
While there aren’t any Mexican restaurants on Historic 25th Street, there are lots of options around the edges of downtown. Mi Puebla, which is located on Washington between 26th and 27th, is one of the most popular. The tacos here are just a section of their very extensive menu. I went for a couple chicken tacos and couldn’t resist trying two lamb tacos off of their “special tacos” list. There may be others that serve lamb, but this is the only place I’ve found in Ogden, and they were a refreshing change of taste.
The sit-down restaurant was pretty slow during the lunch hour, but the place gets busier in the evenings and is open until 1 a.m. on weekends.
Grocery store tacos
404 Washington Blvd. and 905 26th St.
Rancho Market restaurants may seem like an afterthought, as they’re built into the corner of a grocery store but don’t be fooled. They had some of the best tacos I ate all week.
The chicken tacos are especially good. As compared to most of the restaurants serving shredded chicken, Rancho Market makes theirs with larger chunks of grilled meat. These are then stacked high on house-made corn tortillas.
I visited the Washington Boulevard store, but its menu is the same as the one on 26th Street, as well as their other locations along the Wasatch Front. The tacos cost more than most taquerias, but they are about twice the size.
Taco Taco tacos
2931 Washington Blvd.
If I was going to write about tacos in Ogden, it only seemed fitting that I should visit the place named Taco Taco. I realized this week that I’ve eaten there several times in the past, but never actually tried their namesake food. The menu features traditional tacos as well as bacon and “gringo” options. I tried a mix of chicken, carne asada, shrimp and lengua (tongue). Of the four, the lengua was the best.
Beyond the tacos, the Washington Boulevard eatery has a massive menu of burritos, soups, enchiladas, breakfast items and more. It is also one of the few places on this list where you can get a beer with your meal.
Taqueria Los Agaves
3513 Riverdale Rd.
Despite the numerous places to find tacos in Ogden, there are new restaurants opening up all the time. One of the latest additions to the Mexican food scene is Los Agaves on the southern edge of Ogden. The taqueria opened up in a former fast food restaurant in October 2017. When I stopped in for the first time, I tried their chicken and lengua tacos. Both were good and the lengua was some of the softest meat I’ve ever eaten.
In addition to Los Agaves, two other Mexican restaurants came to Ogden in late 2017. El Paisa Grill opened along 12th Street in September and Sazon Hispano opened on Washington Boulevard in December.
The best taco
Taqueria El Paraiso
2665 Wall Ave.
I know I said I couldn’t declare the best taco in Ogden, but El Paraiso certainly served the best taco I had all week. The blue brick restaurant just south of Union Station keeps things simple with only tacos and tortas on the menu. Despite that, the taco menu has a dozen different meat and chile options.
I had a few different good tacos, but their chicken is what really did it for me. Specifically their chicken taco with some additional creamy jalapeno sauce. Their chicken tacos are already a bit spicy on their own, so adding more hot sauce can heat things up pretty fast, but the combination is too tasty to miss.
Outside of the physical restaurant, El Paraiso also runs a taco cart near 26th and Washington most days and both locations offer taco deals on Wednesdays.