Missouri Modern Tacos

May 15, 2018

Tacos. Eaten with your hands and overflowing with the tasty contents of your choice … what's not to love? This humble yet versatile Mexican staple traditionally involves a folded tortilla packed with meat, cheese and lettuce. However, veering off the classic path can be deliciously fun. Check out a few of Missouri's exciting options for non-traditional tacos.

Family-owned Kalbi Taco Shack offers Asian food with a Mexican twist on St. Louis' vibrant Cherokee Street. Choose a corn or flour tortilla filled with Asian beef short ribs, sweet and spicy pork, teriyaki chicken, tofu or sweet and spicy jackfruit (a recently added vegetarian option) topped with Kalbi aioli and Asian slaw. Added bonus, they have bubble tea.

With a limited menu and seating capacity of 15.5 (it's an inside joke), recently opened JQ's on High in Jefferson City specializes in barbecue and smoked meats. Choose from three taco varieties served in street-style tortillas: pulled pork with cole slaw, grilled fish with made-from-scratch tartar sauce and smoked-then-fried pork belly with D.a.T. sauce. Or don't choose; order all three and share.

Extraordinary is probably the best word to describe Not'cho Ordinary Taco truck in Bolivar. Indulge in the "Chicken-N-Waffles" taco with hand-battered, buttermilk fried chicken wrapped in a made-to-order waffle shell. Get it "Country Style," smothered in rich, house-made white gravy and cheddar cheese, or "Sweet-N-Spicy," with buffalo chicken, maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Check out Tinga Tacos in Springfield offers appealing new combinations for street tacos. The "Cheese the Moment" combines cheese curds, taco rice, jalapeños, mango-habanero and pico de gallo. For seafood lovers, the "Get Off My Prawn" has shrimp, guacamole, fruit pico, cabbage, citrus syrup and lime crema.

Sister to 44 Stone Public House in Columbia, 44 Canteen is downtown and features smaller plates and a range of cuisines including Mexican, Asian and European. While the taco menu is fluid, their signature tacos such as the "Sloppy José" (with house-made chicken chorizo, avocado, queso fresco, pickled onions and red chile sauce) make regular appearances.

For Mexican fare with a Midwestern flair, check out James Beard Award semifinalist Patrick Ryan's Port Fonda in Kansas City. Order the "choripapa" taco, loaded with chorizo verde, chipotle-ranch tater tots, tomato serrano, cilantro and onion. Seriously, a tater tot taco; it doesn't get more Midwestern (or delectable) than that.

Tacos are not just for Tuesdays, and Missouri's tacos run the gamut: from Mexican to Asian and everything in between. Be daring and try one of the Show-Me State's refreshingly exciting out-of-the-norm tacos. Don't forget to tag your pics #MissouriAdventure.

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