The Taco Trend Aarón Sánchez Says Is On The Rise - Exclusive

Food trends come and go, and it takes a true expert to predict the next big thing. As tacos grow in popularity, so do specific types and styles. Recently, birria, a taco made with a spicy and saucy beef stew has been a hot item, showing up at restaurants and in TikTok videos across the country. Al pastor, a spiced pork taco filling, has become ubiquitous enough to make it onto the Chipotle menu.

During an exclusive Mashed interview with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez, we asked him what he thinks the next big taco trend will be. Sánchez explained that he thinks we'll start exploring Mexican regional cuisine. "I think what's going to happen, it's not going to be, per se, one dish. I think we're going to start focusing on different regions and specializing in the cuisines from those areas." Rather than one method of preparation taking over, Sánchez believes we will see a rise in local taco styles from around Mexico.

We've already seen how regional dishes, such as birria from Jalisco, have transformed our ideas of what a taco could look like. Sánchez's prediction takes this trend to heart. "If you go to a place called Tlaxcala, which is outside of Mexico City, they're very famous for their tacos de canasta. Then, you go to other parts of Mexico and they have their own kind of particular taco. So I just think you're going to see more of the regionality come out."

The rise in regional tacos

Tacos have been popular in the United States for decades and have become a staple of many weekly meal plans, especially on Taco Tuesdays. However, the tacos we're most familiar with are often watered-down Tex-Mex versions of the dish. No one would confuse Chipotle or Taco Bell for traditional Mexican food, with its wide variety of flavors, seasonings, and preparation methods. In recent years, Mexican food has quickly become among the most popular cuisines in the U.S., particularly among younger generations, who are sharing it with their friends on social media. With that has arisen a taste for more diverse variations of the cuisine.

The Mexican American population in the United States has increased substantially in the last few decades. With a growing population comes a shift in consumption, which has led to a higher demand for traditional Mexican foods in grocery stores and restaurants. As with any cuisine, cooking techniques and ingredients vary by region, and people bring the skills and flavors they're familiar with.

Another factor driving the increased popularity of regional varieties of tacos is online food tourism, often called foodstgramming. Creators on Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms will travel the world looking for new foods to try, and their videos create a demand for unusual and flavorful dishes. Birria tacos allegedly became popular after someone posted a picture of a Los Angeles food truck taco to their Instagram platform. The rest is history.

What regional tacos look like

As an example, Aarón Sánchez points to Tlaxcala, a small state outside Mexico City. Tlaxcala's local specialty is tacos de canasta, which translates to "basket tacos." Corn tortillas with a variety of fillings are placed in a lined basket, covered with hot oil, and closed inside a plastic bag. This steams them, creating a unique texture.

Tacos de canasta, traditionally a street food, have found their way to parts of the United States, such as San José, where they can be purchased from street vendors. Other places, such as La Jolla Taqueria in Los Angeles, are already serving them in a brick-and-mortar restaurant. People who remember trying them in Tlaxcala create threads online to share information and pictures of where they can be found in the U.S. And so another taco trend is born.

There are even more varieties to look out for as they make their way across social media and the country, such as tacos rojos potosinos, from San Luís Potosí, which are made from a tortilla dipped in spicy sauce, fried, and stuffed with cheese. The Acapulco pescadilla, from coastal Acapulco, Guerrero, is made with tomato and fish filling stuffed into a tortilla, which is then fried till crispy. If Sánchez is correct, we may see these and many other kinds of tacos popping up in TikTok videos, food trucks, and restaurants, and we can't wait to try them all.