Taco Tuesday: Tacos de Papa

Happy National Taco Day! I’m celebrating with a traditional, lesser known taco that is not for the faint of carbs.

Tacos de papa or potato tacos take me back to childhood, when my mom and grandmother would make them. Meat has always grossed me out, so instead of a ground beef taco, I would get a taco filled with mashed potatoes. It might sound a bit odd and bland to fill a starch with a starch, but this is simple, peasant comfort food at its best. Like any cuisine, this dish varies in each household. Some keep it simple, only seasoning with salt and pepper, while others may add onion, chile, cumin, or a little chorizo.

Not many local restaurants serve potato tacos, but every Monday, the The Riviera serves them for $1.25, along with over six other different varieties of tacos. Several other local spots serve potato flautas as well. At the Rivieria, I always get one avocado, one bean, and one potato. The potato one is probably my favorite. It’s so flavorful and spicy with chile speckled throughout. The recipe below is my interpretation of it, and I think it comes pretty darn close to theirs.

Potato tacos are usually served deep fried, but I prefer mine unfried. I don’t like deep frying things at home because it’s messy, a hassle, and stinks up the house. I tried oven-frying the tacos and I think it turned out very similar without all the extra fat and hassle. Potatoes are also usually boiled and mashed, but I think by dicing and sauteing them, you get more flavor.

Chiles roasting on an open flame...
Charred and ready to sweat!

Tacos de Papa

Makes 4 tacos

2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced into ½″ cubes (about 2 cups)
1 jalapeño
¼ teaspoon or more of granulated garlic powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 tortillas

  1. Roast the jalapeño over an open flame of a gas burner until blackened. Wrap in a paper towel & set aside to allow skin to steam & cool (this will make it easier to peel).
  2. Heat about a tablespoon of oil or vegan margarine in a pan over medium high heat. Add diced potatoes and season with salt, pepper, & garlic powder. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Turn down the heat, cover, & cook for 10-15 more minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Add a bit of water throughout the cooking process if the potatoes are drying out too much.
  3. In the meantime, peel & dice the jalapeno. Remove the seeds & ribs if you want to tone down the heat.
  4. When the potatoes are done, transfer them to a bowl & mash into a coarse mixture with a fork. Add jalapeño & season if necessary.
For unfried tacos:
Heat tortillas over the open flame of a gas burner or on a dry skillet, flipping tortilla until heated through. Fill with potato mixture.
For oven-fried tacos:
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°. Spray or brush a baking pan with oil. Fill tortillas with potato mixture. Pin the tortilla together with a tooth pick. Spray or brush both sides of the taco. Bake for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy.
Serve as is or top with cabbage or lettuce and your favorite condiments. I would suggest serving with the Salsa de Arbol from yesterday. 🙂
Left: Unfried, Right: Oven-fried (don’t forget to remove the toothpick!)
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