Paso Mom Tacos

Fried tortillas make the perfect vehicle for homemade tacos. You won’t stop at just one.

Hubs and I both grew up on these tacos. They are, by no means, authentic Mexican fare. But, they are good.

Simply home-fried tortilla shells filled with seasoned ground beef and topped with whatever suits your fancy, these tacos are certainly not complicated. But, they are filling. And good.

And for these reasons, they were the “all-you-can-eat” Thursday noontime special at a diner we used to frequent in our small town of Paso Robles, CA years ago. I have no idea if the diner is still there. It was located at the stock yards.

Yes, really.

We’d take our kids out to breakfast and then after we had devoured our steak and eggs and bacon and ham, we’d go out to the pens and look at the baby pigs.

Yes, really. The kids usually dressed like this:

Yes, really! What can I say? We lived in a rural, Western town, complete with an annual Bean Feed. I loved it!

And I miss it, too. One of hubs’ co-workers at the time had grown up there and when we told him about the all-you-could-eat tacos, just like we’d had when we were growing up, he said, “Oh yeah, Paso Mom Tacos.”

I have no idea if anyone besides Jim ever called them that, but we do now.

First, you cook up some taco meat. I use this spice blend. Keep the meat warm while you fry the corn tortillas.

It’s nice to have a husband willing to stand over hot oil and fry these for you. This is pretty much the make-it or break-it step of this dish. You want to fry the corn tortillas until they are crisp enough to break when you bite them, but not so crisp that they shatter into a million pieces. It may take some experimenting, but you’ll get it.

Hubs set up this new-fangled contraption to drain and cool the shells. It’s a cooling rack upside down on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Go with what you got.

As you fry, remember that you want the shells to be fried in a folded position. However, not so closed that you can’t get the filling inside. It’s an art.

Then lay out an assortment of toppings and fillings: seasoned taco meat, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa, and we like to use sour cream. If you put the sour cream into a small sandwich bag, you can make your own handy-dandy sour cream shooter. You can conserve on sour cream at the same time as make pretty designs.

Paso Mom Tacos are a huge hit at our house. They are fairly affordable since corn tortillas aren’t as expensive as conventional taco shells. They just take a little work. But, they taste amazingly good.

Did I mention that part?

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Comments

  1. Mary Lou says:

    My hubs and I have considered moving our family to Paso Robles. Why did you leave and what do you miss or not miss? Not about food, I know. Sorry.

    • @Mary Lou, I love Paso Robles! God has taken us on a wild journey, though. We left in 03 to move to Kansas City. This job in San Diego brought us back to CA. If there was a job similar in SLO County, we would definitely consider moving back. But, San Diego is pretty sweet, too.

  2. Those tacos are how we grew up eating them.. and that was 50+ years ago about 3 miles from Mexico and that is how the Mexicans there made them. We just call em hard tacos or soft tacos. I like mine a little softer than hard. I still make them that way to this day. I dispise the commercial hard tacos and these are comforting home cooking.

    • @KimH, they are comfort food! Our Mexican-American friends would probably argue about the meat. That “authentic” would be shredded beef, not ground. But, I imagine there are all kind of debates. And these are so good, I really can’t complain.

  3. I’ve never tried to make homemade taco shells, but I think the family would love this. The store bought shells are so over-priced and not very good. I almost always have corn tortillas in the house, I think you’ve inspired me to give it a try. A good alternative to tostados, thanks!

  4. I know this may sound weird but we always cook our ground beef inside the shell. Pat the meat down on half the torilla like a patty, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and fry away! Fry the meat side first holding the tortilla open with tongs for a few seconds then let the meat and tortilla cook, flip over and hold open for a few seconds again (to keep the tortilla from cooking shut) and fry till crisp. I guess its kinda like a hamburger taco but this is how I grew up eating them and make them like this to this day. They are delicious and I am hispanic if that holds any weight. Ha ha!

    • Interesting! Thanks for the tip!

    • @Debbie, This is how we’ve always made them as well. My grandmother used to make them in a skillet with just 2 inches of hot oil over the outdoor fire. I still make them this way – down to her old magnalite skillet. Truly delicious with leftover turkey that you season with chiles and New Mexico chile powder…making me hungry!

  5. Growing up in SC, I had never had “real taco’s”. My best friend’s mom grew up in El Paso and this was how she made them. After she made them for me one night, I was hooked :) I was always quick to invite myself to their house when they were having taco’s.

  6. Wow! I haven’t seen this in years! When my husband was in the navy in 1971, we had friends from Colorado that taught us how to eat tacos. We hadn’t made them before that. The tortillas, though, came in a can about 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall. The shells were very soft (moist) and very easy to fry. We kinda laugh about it now days because when we tell friends about it, they seem to think we must be crazy! But, boy, were they great! I have to say that we do not make them as often now as we did then but I never thought to use the tortillas you find in stores today. I will have to give them a try and surprise my husband.

  7. We do the same thing except with flour tortillas. When they are done frying, I sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Seriously SO good….and comforting. Reminds me of my childhood :)

  8. Hi,
    I loved your post. The restaurant near the stockyard in Paso Robles,CA is still there today. I live in SLO county. We go to the bean feed every year, and love the Pioneer Day parade. I love this area, and it is a great place to live.

  9. This is the way that my Mom always made Taco’s, and I think she learned from my Grandma (who was from Tennessee) who use to have to make 30 tacos on taco night to feed 7 hungry teenage boys! (foster care). It’s the only way I’ve ever known or thought about making tacos. In fact I always wondered about those store bought ones, but was never inclined to buy :) the first time we actually ever bought the store brand one’s was 4 months ago when we had a Taco Bar set up for a 30th birthday party. My mother was all set to be frying up tacos (though she was concerned about the logistics of it) and I told her, “No Mom, we’ll just buy the premade store bought ones to make the party easy on you.” She seriously said “You can buy them at the store???” LOL!

  10. My son came up with a great idea for the taco shells. We put them in the toaster. It is much healthier & they taste like the tacorias. Just thought I’d pass it on.

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