I realize it’s a hefty claim, especially since I haven’t been to every taco place in Euskadi but goddamn it, I know a good taco when I see – nay, eat – one.
I’d been wanting to stop by here ever since Day of the Dead when I was searching for Pan de Muerto, and the Colombian dude from my trusty Latino corner shop handed me a pamphlet for this restaurant that had just opened up in Errentería. One look at the menu and I knew that this place was either run by a couple of Mexicans or someone who had done their research. Only certain people know what a gringa is in a taco context (FYI, it’s a flour tortilla folded in half and filled with cheese, carne al pastor, pineapple, onion, and cilantro).
Headed by Beatriz and Carina, from Veracruz and Oaxaca respectively, these wonderful women have created a corner where what little community we have in this area can feel at home. The decor, the music, the hospitality, and unlike April Ludgate, their insistence that we refer to them in the informal “tú” or by their nickname, Cari and Bea.
I guess Bea could see how tired we were from our hike, cause as soon as we settled in and finished exchanging stories of our hometowns and how we ended up on this side of the planet, she offered up the best thing she could’ve: A good old michelada, made with Mexican beer, soy sauce, Worcestershire, Tabasco, salt, lime, and a chamoy-Miguelito rim. A sweeter take than the usual Tajín, and no Clamato here. So good, I could’ve downed it in a single gulp.
For the sake of corroborating my theory that these would indeed be the best tacos in Basque Country, I ended up getting the taco sampler even though all I wanted was some good ol’ pastor. Chicago and Quito got the same. Taco total: 18.
From left to right, we’ve got: alambre, which is good if it’s something you like; pipián verde, which I expected to be a little thicker and nuttier, but was still delicious; cochinita pibil, with a faint orange flavor and nice tartness, dressed with pickled red onions; pastor, which for a second I assumed had no pineapple, only to realize it was already mixed in with the meat; chorizo that tastes Spanish but prepared and cooked Mexican-ly, which is as good as it’s going to get it; and suadero, which was a wee bit disappointing since it’s known for being quite soft and a bit fatty, and this was just a little dry. Without a doubt, the tacos al pastor were the best of them all (which is always a correct statement, fight me). Not only were they as close as they are ever going to get to the real thing outside Mexico, but they were legitimately delicious. But honestly, they were all good.
Not pictured was a trio of salsa, composed of pickled red onion with habanero (a taquería classic), salsa verde, and a very spicy, peanut-based sauce. I’m not a good judge of salsas, but my friends swear they were great.
Halfway through my second taco, Bea came out and suggested we try the nachos, and it took very little convincing on her behalf. She brought them out with all the extras: cheese, chorizo, guacamole, pico de gallo, and refried beans. I could tell the totopos were homemade; proper cut-up, deep-fried tortillas. The guac was super fresh (and had no tomatoes!), and the pico looked and tasted just like my santa madre’s.
Take that, Cantina de San Ángel.
We stayed for quite a while, picking at the last bits of food left on the plates. We were in no real rush to leave (except for curfew), and I got the feeling that Bea didn’t want us to leave either. There were stories to share for days.
I know I’ll be back with the rest of my cuadrilla soon.
Txiki Tako is located on Cristobal Gamon Kalea, 6, Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain, and is open Wednesday – Sunday from 13:00 to 16:00 and from 19:00 to 21:00.