Food Prowl is a yearlong look at what the city's restaurants have to offer. Each month, food writer Sarah Baker Hansen, and a few guest tasters, will name a new victor in the epic battle of food.
Coming in July: Omaha's best cheeseburger
You'll find the best taco in town at Tacos el Peligro.
Tacos el Peligro, 5133 S. 25th St.
What we ordered: al pastor, marinated pork chunks cooked on a hot grill; shredded chicken; carnitas steak; and barbacoa, fragrant Mexican barbecued beef.
No one had any funky chunks or fatty bits in their tacos. None of the meats we tried were greasy or oily.
We all agreed that the al pastor taco was the taco to beat. The incredibly tender meat came topped with petite slices of pineapple — a tart and sweet counterpart to the chewy tortilla, tangy cilantro and subtly spicy meat.
Jessica: “If I had to go to one place for tacos, it would be Peligro. The flavor of the tortilla, the seasoning on the meat, the pineapple. All of it.”
Paul: “I think the overall experience at Rivera's is amazing. Even the chips are great. But for me, the great meat at Peligros tipped the scale.”
For our sixth Food Prowl, we name the South Omaha hole-in-the-wall our favorite taco shop.
The other contenders:
California Tacos and More, 3235 California St.
Info: 402-342-0212; www.californiatacosandmore.com
What we ordered: Beef tacos and tilapia tacos. The shells are made of soft dough and have a thick, flaky appearance. The fried dough flavor dominated.
Jessica liked how the tacos held together in her hand: Nothing fell out, though she said she could have done with a less doughy shell.
We all agreed that the tacos were good, especially as late night, after-bar food, but we weren't sure they were the best.
Taqueria el Rey food truck, 30th & Leavenworth Streets in the Avanza Parking lot.
To order, call 402-813-1900
What's on the menu: carnitas, cheek, tongue, chorizo, chicken, steak, al pastor and buche, which is pig stomach.
We didn't like the al pastor at el Rey as much. It was missing the delicious pineapple chunks.
We all liked the bites of cheek taco — the meat was tender, smoky and juicy — but some of the taco meat, including the tongue, wasn't cut and cleaned well enough for us.
Maria's Mexican Restaurant, 7630 Burlington St., Ralston
Info: 402-592-3623; www.mariasralston.com
What we ordered: Big plates — platters, really — of “puffy” tacos, gravy burritos, rice and beans arrived.
“The tacos remind me of giant open empanadas,” Johnny said. This version of Americanized taco was crumblier, less greasy and definitely puffier than its Cali counterpart. The beef inside some of the tacos wasn't as deeply seasoned as at Cali taco, but it was less greasy, a benefit in our eyes. All the tacos needed some salsa to moisten things up.
Of the Americanized tacos we liked, the majority of our group liked Maria's the best.
Rivera's Mexican Restaurant, 12047 Blondo St.
Info: 402-932-1381; http://riverasmf.com
What we ordered: al pastor, steak, fish and one we hadn't seen anywhere else, norteńos, a Northern Mexican version of carne asada.
The fish taco was packed with chunks of lightly seasoned grilled mahi mahi. Spicy ranch dressing added the right amount of moisture and the homemade corn tortillas held everything together. The flavors went together perfectly. It's the best fish taco I've ever had.
“At 2 a.m.,” Paul said, “this is the plate of food I want to eat.”