With its humble beginnings as a taco stand at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market five years ago, Tacolicious now has three San Francisco locations and a fourth in Palo Alto. And owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran are the first to say they could not have predicted its success.
It was a fateful trip to Mexico City that sealed Tacolicious’ fate. Armed with a list of recommended restaurants from Mexican food champion and chef Rick Bayless
, who had eaten in their Spanish restaurant a few nights before, the couple had a few tacos they found life-changing. They were so simple yet perfectly executed, the pair found themselves asking “How can we bring these flavors back home?”
Of course, it’s not like San Francisco was lacking for Mexican food before Tacolicious came along. But the two were onto something. As Deseran, restauranteur and editor-at-large for San Francisco
magazine explains, “Mexican cooking, done well, is something that crosses borders. People get hooked on it – all sorts of people.”
Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails and More
by Deseran, with help from Hargrave, Antelmo Faria and Mike Barrow and photographed by Alex Farnum, warns, “Start making a list now, because after mastering a few recipes, I promise that you’re going to want to host a party.” It’s that kind of book.
The book starts out with a chapter on salsas, pickles and more (“You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we think you should judge a cook by his or her salsa,” Deseran writes). The snacks and sides chapter includes various ceviches, Tacolicious’ famous tuna tostadas, tortas, quesadillas, empanadas, tamales, and even Mexican versions of hamburgers and hot dogs. The taco section features at least 20 different versions, from the obvious, like carnitas and lengua, to the more unusual, like a vegetarian taco with butternut squash, kale and pepitas and a breakfast egg taco.
There is a comprehensive cocktail chapter, too, which has a "tequila for beginners" section, and includes various salts and infusions, and a “G-rated” section for the agua frescas.
Now make that list, and have that party.
Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave will be celebrating the release of the Tacolicious cookbook at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Sept. 4 at Omnivore Books. Drinks and snacks will be served.
Is there a more perfect food than the taco? So easily eaten by hand, so versatile with its fillings, and so many delicious accompaniments: salsas, pickled onions, avocado, lime, a spunky tequila cocktail to pair ... if there is a more perfect food, don’t tell that to the patrons of