Some dear friends recently called me a taco snob, but I think taco enthusiast fits a little better.
Sure, a taco snob might have a detailed list of her favorite tacos in each Idaho city. But she certainly wouldn’t pull over on the side of the road at the sight of a new taco truck or stand. She might snub a restaurant’s tacos for having uncooked tortillas or bland toppings, but she also wouldn’t dare judge the small business monetizing secret recipes to support the family.
Suffice it to say, I have some serious opinions on tacos. While some of my favorite Mexican restaurants also have great tacos, this list favors the classic taco destinations: taquerías and taco trucks.
You also might notice that taco options listed for Ada County cities are few and far between. That’s because the true taco heart of the Treasure Valley beats in Canyon County. It could take months to track down all the delicious tacos in Caldwell and Nampa, not to mention the fair share of other Mexican delicacies available, such as pan dulce and tamales.
But that’s another story. For now, here’s a list of the best places to get tacos in the Treasure Valley.
Basilios Tacos at 10565 W Lake Hazel Road.
Basilios is famous for its perfect tacos al pastor (marinated pork), but the place also has delicious fish and lengua (tongue) tacos.
Taquería La Flama at 1680 Westland Drive.
The happy hour tacos here are 99 cents each. Why aren’t you there yet?
Campos Market at 413 N. Orchard St.
Carne asada tacos are my go-to here, and the seasoned carne asada and al pastor meat available for purchase in the carnicería is perfect if you decide to make your own. This is also one of the few markets to stock my favorite Topo Chico flavor (grapefruit).
Carnicería Coalcoman at 5234 W. Fairview Ave.
You can get a wide variety of tacos here, including chicharrón, asada, adobada, carnitas, chorizo and al pastor. The sister bakery visible from Fairview — Panadería Coalcoman — has a great variety of pan dulce, too.
Madre Boutique Taquería at 1034 S. La Pointe St.
I have a personal vendetta against taco joints that charge far more than the traditional $1-$3 for tacos that aren’t even worth it. However, I was thoroughly impressed by Madre’s braised short rib and Idaho spud-chorizo tacos — although it still hurt deeply to pay $6 for one taco.
Taquería El Torito at 4628 State St.
This restaurant is a neighborhood favorite with a great variety of shrimp, fish, asada, lengua, buche, cabeza, tripa and chorizo tacos, burritos and more.
Meshico Mexican Food at 9719 W Chinden Blvd. (in front of Powderhaus Brewing).
I’m still bitter that Meshico left its Curtis Road location after I started at the Statesman, but this little blue truck remains one of my all-time favorites. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the operators before they run out of their cochinita pibil, a type of slow-roasted pork from Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.
Tacos El Rey #2 at 4116 W. Chinden Blvd.
This Tacos El Rey location (there are many across the Treausre Valley) has my favorite carnitas (shredded pork) tacos in the state. Many taquerías prefer to cook their carnitas to a crisp, but they’re perfectly juicy at Tacos El Rey in Garden City.
Los Buenos Diaz at 447 Caldwell Blvd.
Drive any direction on Caldwell Boulevard and you’ll hit a taco truck eventually. But this one is more than your average taco spot. Tacos de rajas (peppers), tacos de nopal (cactus), birria (goat) tacos and a variety of standard fillings are almost always available, but they serve tamales and champurrado during the winter months. Also, if you didn’t catch the fabulous bilingual pun in the name, read it again. That alone is worth a quick stop next time you’re in Nampa.
Taquería Mexico Chiquito at 615 Caldwell Blvd.
This little orange truck has been a Caldwell Blvd. staple for several years. It used to be hard to find their location tucked in front of the auto shop, but a recent makeover makes them much easier to find from the road. If you order the tacos adobada or the carne asada, you won’t be disappointed.
Nueva Vida Bakery at 1424 2nd Street.
If you stop for coffee at the Flying M Coffee Garage in downtown Nampa, you can find delicious carnitas tacos right next door. Nueva Vida Bakery also has wonderful baked goods and tamales made to order.
La Ranchera Market: at 122 Holly Street.
Tacos Lupita at 115 16th Avenue S.
Forget taco trucks — this taquería is a taco bus! The long white bus parked behind an old gas station in downtown Nampa has some of the best tacos in Idaho. Sit with your friends or family on the bus benches while the corn tortillas are made right in front of you. Their tacos de adobada are my favorite, but their burritos aren’t too shabby, either.
Tacos Aguililla Food Truck at 1010 1st St. N
This is one of those unassuming taco trucks that you know is good because there’s a line in the parking lot around every mealtime. I recommend the lengua tacos, but almost anything on this extensive menu is good.
Pantera Market #2 at 1802 N. Franklin Blvd.
Nampa’s Pantera Market has many, many wonderful things — the Sunday rib special served this summer changed my life — but I’m addicted to its Tacos Jalisco. Pantera’s version includes corn tortillas fried in cheese, then stuffed with spicy birria (goat). This place also caters.
Campos on Lonestar at 135 Lone Star Road.
If you haven’t noticed yet, Mexican markets have some of the best tacos in town. Campos on Lonestar is no exception — and the tamales aren’t bad, either.
Tacos Colima Food Truck at 3222 N. Middleton Road.
Just as good, if not better, tacos as the parent restaurant in Caldwell. The menu features tacos de adobada, carnitas, chorizo, chicharrón, asada, lengua, cabeza and more. If you find yourself patiently waiting for your tacos in cold weather, make sure to order some champurrado.
Campos Market at 3302 Caldwell Blvd.
This little Mexican market has several types of classic tacos, but the carne asada tacos are my favorite. You can also place tamale orders during the holiday season.
Tacos Colima at 517 Blaine St.
The gravitational pull of the original Tacos Colima is strong. I can’t drive through Caldwell without a quick stop. I recommend the carne asada tacos, but everything is good. If you’re dining in, you can also choose from a deep selection of hot sauces.
Tacos El Rey at 215 N. 5th Ave.
The original Tacos El Rey, wedged next to Darigold, is always packed. Ordering ahead might be your best bet, especially if you’re placing a large order. Again, carne asada tacos are the best here.
Amano Restaurante at 702 Main St.
One of the only high-priced options on this list, because Amano’s tacos are worth the money. Amano was an instant hit in my friend group and a truly beautiful addition to Caldwell’s Indian Creek Plaza. The lengua tacos were my favorite, but don’t be afraid to try as many of Amano’s original creations as possible.
Pantera Market #1 at 2502 E. Linden St.
The original Pantera Market in Caldwell is well-known for its delicious tacos and stocked carnicería. Try the tacos al pastor or the tacos de carnitas, chorizo, asada, or the classic chicken tacos.
Tacos y Mariscos el Compa at 605 N 5th Ave.
El Compa has my favorite fish tacos in Idaho — juicy, flavorful and absolutely stuffed.
Carnicería Mi Tierra at 517 E. Main St.
An all-around delicious Mexican market and restaurant with tons of options for tacos and full meals. Like many others on this list, this joint also has awesome tamales.
Imelda’s Coffee Casa at 2414 Cleveland Blvd.
Breakfast tacos. Do I need to say anything else? (I don’t, but it also got new Boise State President Marlene Tromp’s recommendation.)
Elsewhere in the Treasure Valley
Tacos El Sol, 504 E. Grove Ave. in Parma
One of the only places for miles around that you can find tacos. If you prefer to get your energy boost from caffeine and not the truck’s stock of sugary Jarritos, you’re in luck. It’s right next to Cappuccino Cowgirl, an adorable coffee stand.
Tacos Mendoza, 109 U.S. 95 in Wilder (on the corner of Peckham Road and U.S. 95)
These ladies make my favorite tacos adobada in the valley. Hands down. Their location right off U.S. 95 is a veritable haven with plenty of seating and shade, which is probably why it’s always packed with farmworkers from nearby fields.
Tacos El Dorado on the corner of N. Hawthorne Drive and Main Street in Middleton, across from the Jacksons.
All of the tacos here are delicious and garnished with radishes and peppers, but I still haven’t recovered from the secret, extra-spicy salsa verde available on request. It’s worth a drive to Middleton just to sample it — but you have to ask nicely!
King Taco Express, 928 Highway 55, Marsing
Again, there’s a lot of merit in being one of the only taco spots for miles around. Parked right in front of a house off of Idaho 55, King Taco Express has a variety of options.
Be aware: Many taco trucks change hours or locations during the winter months. If something on this list has moved, let me know.
If you have tacos that I should know about — especially outside of Boise, Nampa and Caldwell — email me the taqueria name and your review at email@example.com.
(I reserve the right not to include your “totally authentic” favorite on my list.)