We all know taco night is the best night, whenever it happens to land during the week. And if you’ve yet to upgrade from takeout to DIY, consider doing something about that. A taco assembly line at home makes an ideal household-wide dinner distraction while making less work for you and ensuring each picky eater at your table can suit him or herself (whether they like things spicy or mild—no judgment!).
- How to get the whole gang involved
- What you can do after dinner
- Increase the pressure by making your own tortillas
- Orange you glad I didn’t say lime juice?
- Taking a stand for tacos
- Ask and ye shell (see what we did there?) receive
- Tableside guac service at home
- Livin’ the fajita loca
- A cacao ceremony of a different sort
- When only one tool can do the job
- After-dinner dodgeball
- Your own Top Chef taco challenge
- Slap yourself silly
How to get the whole gang involved
Here’s the thing: as much as taco night is all about coming together as a family and eating tacos and hygge and all that bonding stuff you’ve been reading about, it’s also about being able to delegate dinner prep. Since there’s no getting around having to press your own citrus when making marinades and salsa and drinks, we have a sleek-looking tool that’s so nifty, we swear the kids will argue over who gets to use it first. Let them duke it out while you do the adulting by slicing and dicing. And while you may think you don’t want to bother pressing your own homemade tortillas, it’s easy for small hands to work the lever of our favorite tortilla press and squatten blobs of dough into flat rounds. And don’t worry if they’re not perfectly round. Rorschach-shaped tacos are just as delish.
What you can do after dinner
Looking for what to do after you’ve stuffed some tacos and then stuffed yourself? There’s always room for Mexican spiced hot chocolate and churros. After that, instead of passing out on the sofa, bust out these interesting (if pleasingly quirky) taco-themed games. Or if you’re feeling old-fashioned, you could try renaming the colors of an old favorite, Twister. Red for salsa, yellow for shells, green is cilantro. Blue? We’re going with the lahara fruit. (What? It makes a gorg margarita when dyed that intoxicating shade of cerulean blue.)
If you’re looking to stretch it out, we’ve got you. Put on some comfy pants and attempt this easy and satirical beginner’s yoga series that will take you from taco hog to downward dog in a matter of minutes.
Once you finally settle in for the night and burrito yourself in a blanket to binge-watch, we have one last suggestion. Taco Chronicles on Netflix explores the rich histories of some of our most beloved taco styles, including the imported and assimilated American-style taco. The series offers some excellent techniques, so don’t forget to take notes for your next taco night.
Increase the pressure by making your own tortillas
It’s easier than you think to knock out a pile of the freshest homemade tortillas you’ll ever experience with this 10-inch press. Though be warned, the suppleness and flavor will forevermore ruin the packaged store-bought ones for you. Made from recycled metal.
Orange you glad I didn’t say lime juice?
Mexican and Tex-Mex food rely oh so heavily on citrus juice for flavoring, marinating, and tenderizing. And, natch, so do margaritas for you and sodas splashed with lime for the kiddos. Freshly squeezed citrus makes all the difference. And this beauty of a juicer is just the powerhouse you need to prevent an aching shoulder or a desperate convenience store run for sub-par frozen margarita mix.
Taking a stand for tacos
Spilled taco fixins tend to move some of us to tears. This ingenious stand holds a trio of crunchy hard-shell tacos perfectly upright while you’re assembling as well as devouring tacos. Diners can mix and match styles and toppings to their heart’s content without worrying about spilling any precious carnitas cargo.
Ask and ye shell (see what we did there?) receive
Experience all your crisp taco dreams come true by deep frying the shells yourself. Fresh and hot-out-of-the-oil crisp, these crunchy shells are no comparison to the stale and often heartbreakingly broken store-bought hard shells. The long, offset design of these tongs helps keep hands free from splattering oil while the open basket lets oil drip from your taco-delivery vessels.
Tableside guac service at home
You haven’t truly beheld the gorgeousness of guacamole until you’ve consumed it moments after making it from a volcanic rock molcajete. Pulverizing the cilantro and onion releases more flavor than just a whizz through the food processor and gives you major bragging rights.
Livin’ the fajita loca
Those of us who fancy soft tacos know that warm, flexible tortillas are the secret to tacos that keep their fillings where they belong and not in your lap. This vibrant ceramic container locks in heat and moisture to keep your tortillas pliable—whether homemade or store-bought. Hint: This does double duty on enchilada night by keeping the tortillas foldable as you assemble your dinner.
A cacao ceremony of a different sort
Stone-ground chocolate makes the traditional Mexican hot chocolate boldly satisfying. We’ve heard that these beautifully wrapped and exquisitely spiced dark chocolate discs are good enough to eat on their own so maybe save one for a snack—we definitely did. For an authentic experience, serve the resulting hot chocolate with churros for dunking.
When only one tool can do the job
After you’ve splurged on proper Mexican chocolate, you’ll want to mix it in the traditional Mexican manner, which is to use a molinillo. The slender pestles are specially designed to whisk up foamy and luxurious drinks while dissolving the chocolate discs. And they’ve been used for centuries to do exactly that. What results is the furthest thing from your regular from-a-package mix.
Ever wanted to throw food at your niblings without feeling guilty? This is the game for you. In this maniacal game of burrito-themed dodgeball, you try to collect sets of cards faster than your opponents while simultaneously ducking, dodging, and throwing squishy airborne burritos. The cards you collect earn points, but getting hit by flying burritos loses them. Clear some space and put away the antiques, because you’ve never played card games quite like this before.
Your own Top Chef taco challenge
For a slightly less rambunctious game made by a kid for kids, we present Taco vs Burrito, a deliciously unpredictable game for up to 4 players who compete to make the weirdest and wildest tacos possible. Draw from a deck of wacky cards and whip up the biggest meal to win. Cards range from the sublime Hot Sauce Boss (double points!) to the gross (chocolate covered shrimp!)
Slap yourself silly
A last recommendation for card games that are good for kiddos and adults alike, the Snap! adjacent game Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is power-packed, fast, and simple. Race against each other to slap down a match between a card and spoken word while trying to rid yourself of cards as fast as possible. Special action cards—the gorilla, narwhal, and groundhog—require players to make certain gestures before racing to slap the deck.
All products featured on Leite’s Culinaria are independently selected by our staff.