Dinner Party Hack: The Taco Bar Your Friends Will Talk About For Weeks
Let's be honest with ourselves for a minute. I could eat tacos for every meal for the rest of my life.
Handheld, portable, and with infinite potential topping combinations, there's no way anyone could ever get bored.
Whenever I have friends over that have a lot of different tastes, or I'm entertaining a new couple that I don't know much about, a taco bar is a sure-fire way to make sure everyone leaves stuffed and happy (and I don't have to put in a ton of work up front).
Step 1: Protein
The store bought taco seasonings, while great in a pinch, always taste kind of overly-salty to me. Making your own taco seasoning at home is super easy--I make it in big batches so I always have it on hand (Mexican is one of our quick weeknight staples). Check out this article for a recipe to get you started.
That article also details methods to prepare different proteins to stuff your tacos with. Sometimes I'll stick with one protein, but variety is the spice of life and having more than one option is always fun. I find a thin flank steak and shrimp cook up the quickest, but most people almost always like chicken as well.
Step 2: Add A Little Flair
I LOVE sauteed onions and peppers on my tacos and they're so easy. While you're cooking your protein, add sliced onions and bell peppers to a separate skillet, plus a good glug of olive oil and salt + pepper. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally (~7-8 minutes, depending on how crowded your pain is). I like to do 1 bell pepper and 1/2 a large yellow onion per every 2-3 people (they substantially reduce in size).
Step 3: Wrap It Up
Make sure to have plenty of tortillas and taco shells on hand. I like to have 2-3 per person and a variety (I usually have flour and corn, but hard shells or even tortilla chips for nachos can be fun, too). Just prior to serving, heat the tortillas in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, until warm. Wrap in a clean dish towel to keep warm.
Step 4: Toppings On Toppings On Toppings
Remember, the best thing about tacos is the ability to customize. The more toppings, the more options.
- Black and/or pinto beans (warmed on the stove top or in the microwave before serving)
- Shredded cheese or queso.
- Salsa or pico de gallo
- Chopped red onions (or, if you're adventourous, try this pickled version) - Brown or Spanish rice
- Sour cream
- Your favorite hot sauce
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh lime wedges
The options are endless, really.
Final Step: Serve Like A Boss
I keep things pretty simple and low-key. I lay things on my kitchen bar as follows: wraps/chips, meat, beans, toppings. For the toppings, I serve each in a small bowl with separate spoons as needed. Make sure to have plenty of napkins and allow your guests to go to town. That's the beauty of a taco bar--your friends pretty much make their dinner themselves.
Serve with a cold margarita or Mexican lager.
Your friends will be begging to come to your next dinner party.
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