Beyond Taqueria: Real Deal Tacos

I don't like Taqueria del Sol. I know, I?m probably not an Atlantan since I hate the place that everyone thinks is the greatest invention since whoever coined the Locally Sourced-Southern-Farm-to-Table concept. But tacos are supposed to be simple--meat, onions and cilantro wrapped in dual corn tortillas. Instead, we've become accustomed to the Americanized versions, those trusty flour pockets stuffed with the likes of fried chicken and pork belly. For the real-deal experience, I've picked out five interesting tacos, done the proper way. And you can find all of them without going to Buford Highway.

Updated: December 01, 2009

Yes--Corn Tortillas

Bone Garden

1425 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd #6, Atlanta, GA 30318

When done right, beef tongue isn't all that scary and, in fact, it's quite good. Boasting a Day of the Dead-style decor, this Westside spot focuses on Mexican street food (sopas, empanadas) and their lengua taco (cubed beef tongue) is delightful. Soft, tender and properly seasoned, the beef gets a boost from salsa verde and grilled onions rather than diced. Get ready to inhale.

Beleza Lounge

905 Juniper St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309

Well-marbled and melt-in-your-mouth good, the barbecoa de chivo taco (slow braised goat) at Ricardo Ullio's new Lupe Taqueria is the best thing on the menu. Really. Spiked with tomatillo-avocado salsa and accompanied by the traditional diced onions and cilantro, it takes the best from somewhere like El Taco Veloz and amps up the flavor-o-meter. Brilliant.

Holy Taco

1314 Glenwood Ave, Atlanta, GA 30316

OK, we're going to give Holy Taco a pass on their lack of authenticity (they actually give you a flour tortilla option!) for their sense of mixing creative with old-school. Their buttermilk-fried-chicken-heart taco intrigued us enough to snag one, however one bite of this strange, shouldn't-be-edible organ and even we couldn't handle it. (Kudos, though, for the adventure, Holy Taco!) Thankfully, they do an outstanding 12-hour roasted pork shoulder with Mexican slaw taco that is one of the best swine options in the city.

Pure Taqueria

103 Roswell St, Alpharetta, GA 30004

Judging by the location, trendy decor and the clientele, this place certainly can't have anything remotely close to the real deal. It's like Junior del Sol. Right? Wrong! Taking us by surprise, their carne asada tacos are packed with grilled skirt steak and a healthy serving of the cilantro/onion accompaniment. A guajillo salsa comes with it, but honestly we don't think you need it.

The Original El Taco

1186 N Highland Ave, Atlanta, GA 30306

The fancy-schmancy Original El Taco serves the majority of their namesake with the dreaded flour tortillas accented by chef-driven things like tomatillo-lime salsa or sunflower seeds. However, menu originator Shaun Doty knows how to keep it real. Their carnitas taco goes old school with the bare fixins?, letting the pork stand on its own. Why? Because it can.