When Americans think of shredded-meat tacos, the first thing that comes to mind is pork carnitas. Although it is also a popular choice in Mexico, for a populace raised on the familiar street fare, other favorites include carne deshebrada (braised beef) and tinga (chicken simmered in an onion and chipotle sauce).
Of course, finding such authentic offerings stateside is always a challenge — something Fort Lauderdale's Taco Grill owner, Adora Wisdom, is hoping to change.
Wisdom, who spent much of the past decade living in Mexico and who has worked as a chef aboard private yachts for the past five years, considers herself a taco connoisseur. Originally from Texas, her memories include small, hand-formed tortillas filled with nothing but meat, onion, and cilantro.
A year ago and four months pregnant, Wisdom says she began craving the comfort food of her childhood.
"All I could think about was tacos," said Wisdom. "Real, Mexican, street-style tacos. Not the ones you find here, slathered with cheese and sour cream."
To sate her appetite, Wisdom began crafting her own recipes and making her own tortillas. In January, she opened Taco Grill in Fort Lauderdale, just south of the Galt Ocean Mile strip. The restaurant serves the chef's personal take on authentic Mexican street fare.
Everything on the menu is her own creation, she says, prepared and created daily by the chef-owner. That includes the nearly two dozen sauces, each crafted to deliver a pop of flavor, spice, and color to a menu that includes tacos, quesadillas, and homemade soups.
Menu items rotate daily. The specials board is where you'll find the soup of the day, vegetarian-friendly recipes made fresh and from scratch. It's also where Wisdom will advertise the week's specialty taco, takes that have included corned beef and cabbage (for St. Patrick's Day), braised lamb, and duck. Once a special item, the drunken chicken tacos are now featured full-time.
"Customers were so upset when I didn't have it, I had to put it on the menu permanently," said Wisdom, who marinates a whole chicken in beer for 24 hours before braising and roasting.
Three tacos sell for $8 and can be paired with any of Wisdom's specialty sauces. That includes a homemade chimichurri, pica roja and pica verde, chipotle tamarind, and cilantro pesto. The triple fire is her house hot sauce, which she warns is made with bonnet peppers and is dangerously spicy.
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On Tuesday, Taco Grill offers its own version of a Taco Tuesday special: Chips and salsa (normally priced at $4 per order) are free with the purchase of any dish.
Taco Grill is located at 3341 NE 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-580-1488, or visit the Taco Grill Facebook page.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole, or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.