Jake Crandall

For many Nebraska natives, the term taco is exemplified in what fast-food chains such as Taco Bell and Taco John’s might give you: a spoonful of strange meat with lettuce, tomato, cheese and possibly a dollop of sour cream.

A step into one of Lincoln’s many local Mexican restaurants will teach you otherwise. It’s a whole new breed of taco. So when I was asked to taste-test a bunch of Lincoln’s best tacos, it was a no-brainer. It was taco time as I set out to find the greatest one.

La Paz, 321 N. Cotner Blvd

As a recurring customer at La Paz, I was shocked to realize that I had never tried its tacos. After thoroughly enjoying chips and salsa, I decided to order both the chicken and beef taco as part of a two-taco meal. The tacos are pricier at $7.50 because of the refried beans and rice that comes with them. Unfortunately once I took my first bite, I quickly realized why I had never ordered La Paz’s tacos. The beef taco was decent enough. The meat was spicy and flavorful, but it was overpowered by the excessive amount of toppings. Topped off with large amounts of lettuce, cheese and tomato, I found myself scraping off the cheese, which is utterly unheard of for me. Moving on to the chicken taco, the meat seemed bland compared to the spiciness of the shredded beef. And again, it was overwhelmed by all of its toppings. On the bright side, a great-tasting, soft flour tortilla made both of the tacos taste just a bit better. With so many other exceptional dishes, La Paz disappointed in terms of its taco game.

D’Leon’s, 831 N. 48th St.

At D’Leon’s, I chose the mini taco option and ordered a beef, pork and chicken taco. They were decently priced at roughly $5. The tacos lived up to their miniature name as I was given some of the cutest tacos I’ve ever seen. The corn tortillas had a homemade taste and were roughly five inches in diameter. Additionally, each taco was topped with chopped onion and cilantro. I tried the beef taco first and found it to be fairly average. Surprisingly, the meat was both dry and greasy at the same time. It still tasted good, though. The pork taco was better and had more flavor and moisture. Trouble came with the chicken taco, though, as I had a hard time differentiating it with the pork taco. Either it was supposed to taste like that, or I was just given another pork taco. D’Leon’s tacos were a step above La Paz’s, but still seemingly average.

El Chaparro, 900 S. 13th St.

My favorite tacos came from El Chaparro, a small, tucked-away restaurant somewhat close to campus. Again, I ordered a chicken, beef and pork taco. These tacos were fairly cheap, ringing in at around $5 for all three. The tacos took on a more traditional approach, served in authentic corn tortillas and topped with chopped onion and cilantro. On the side, I was given a lime wedge to squeeze on top and a slice of radish, both of which made a big difference. My least favorite of the bunch was the chicken taco, which tasted slightly dry compared to the others. However, there was a noticeable kick added with the lime. The beef taco wasn’t too dry and had great flavor, but the lime juice wasn’t as apparent on top of the meat’s flavor. And finally, El Chaparro’s pork taco proved to be my favorite of the experience. The meat was tender and soft underneath the light layer of toppings. The lime flavor managed to be distinct, without overwhelming the taco. An overall success for me, El Chaparro offers commendable tacos that are sure to please your taste buds.