10 Best Taco Places in St. Petersburg FL 2018

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As I sat down to write this, the first thoughts that popped into my head were, 1) Everybody loves tacos, 2) There sure are a lot of different types of tacos these days, and 3) what is the actual origin of the taco—is it really Mexican, and how close to the original are they to what we eat today?

So, I Googled, "What is the origin of the taco?"

There's a bunch of stuff out there, but I liked The Smithsonian's article the best as it was the most interesting, and the most credible, in my opinion. Whatever you do, don't bother with the one from Ortega. It is so stupid, stating that the very first tacos had "salsa, onions, guacamole, and lime." I don't think so.

To sum it up, tacos were most likely invented by Mexican silver miners in the 18th century. Mexican Americans in the Southwest reinvented it, and businessman Glen Bell mass-marketed it to Anglo palates via the crunchy Taco Bell shell. (By the way, Taco Bell is crap.)

The first taco meat was likely offal meat. I'm not sure if it sounds like "awful meat" on purpose, but it is internal organs and entrails. Blech!

Tacos evolved naturally when Mexicans immigrated, (am I still allowed to use that word, at least in a historical sense?) to the U.S., and two things happened. First, they had to use what was available—ground beef instead of guts. Plus, they were no longer dirt poor, and could afford better meat. The other thing that happened that is similar, is that they were influenced by the American, or Norte Americanos, as they would call us, (Mexicans considered themselves "Americans" too)—they were influenced by the American foods, which is how lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese found its way into the taco along with the ground beef.

Now, there are all kinds of fillings and toppings, and taquerias are continuing to be more inventive every day, which is definitely evidenced by many of our top picks below. Some of the places are sit down, full-blown Mexican restaurants, and others are whole-in-the-wall former gas stations, and everything in between. And yes, I went to all of the places and ate every one of these tacos, some of them many times over.

Here are the 10 Best Places to get Tacos in
St. Petersburg Florida for 2018.

The order is alphabetical, then zip code.

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1. Capital Tacos
5226 4th St N
St. Petersburg, FL 33703
(727) 914-4689
https://www.capitaltacos.com

Capital Tacos is new on the scene in St. Pete, just opening July 21, 2018, but they have been around on the other side of the bay since 2013. They have won several national taco awards, and have a dedicated fanbase for their unique, high-quality taco inventions. Here is our write-up with background info  announcing their new St. Pete location.

We had the Augari, Texas Flood, Johnny Reb and Beef Fajita. They were all great, but we liked the Fajita the best. The Johnny Reb was quite good too, especially if you like a good amount of smokiness. The Augari was good, but the mango and pickled onions weren't to my taste. (I should have paid more attention when ordering.) The Texas Flood was delicious and inventive. Note on the photo of the Fajita taco that pico de gallo was left off by Lori's request as cilantro tastes like soap to her. (Whenever she said a bad word as a kid, her mom would make her eat cilantro.)

Order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table.

Capital Tacos Augari Taco

Augari - Grilled Steak with jack & cheddar, marinated jalapeños, mango, pickled onion, sour cream, cilantro, and salsa verde

Capital Tacos Texas Flood

Texas Flood - Beef Brisket with jack & cheddar, avocado, pickled jalapeños, cilantro, and chipotle BBQ sauce

Capital Tacos Johnny Reb

Johnny Reb - Smoked Sausage with jack & cheddar, street corn, pico de gallo, and poblano ranch

Capital Tacos Fajita Taco sans Pico de Gallo

The Austinite - Carne Asada with jack & cheddar, caramelized onions, avocado, sour cream, chihuahua cheese, and chipotle ranch

2a. Casita Taqueria
2701 4th St N
St. Petersburg, FL 33704
(727) 498-6473
http://www.casitatacos.com/

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2b. Casita Taqueria
2663 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 498-8749
http://www.casitatacos.com/

(Casita Taqueria has a third location in the works at 2991 66th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33710 where Pita Pit used to be.)

Casita Taqueria is another taco joint that has a fiercely loyal following. I left them off of a top 10 Mexican list once, and was almost chased down by the villagers with torches and axes. Then I went there and found out what it was all about, and they are certainly legit.

They are listed here as 2a and 2b as both locations have the same menu offerings, as opposed to Red Mesa's locations below that have completely different menus.

Here's my full review of Casita Taqueria earlier this year in February 2018. Casita makes most of their ingredients in-house, and their tacos are bursting with flavor. The staff is fun and friendly too.

Order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table.

Barbacoa, Chorizo, and Camarones Tacos at Casita

Barbacoa, Chorizo, and Camarones Tacos at Casita

3. Chile Verde Authentic Mexican Food
2801 22nd Ave North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33713
(727) 800-2679
https://www.facebook.com/ChileVerdeStPete/

Chile Verde arrived on the scene late last year, and immediately garnered great reviews over and over again (and continues to), and everyone loved that they are "authentic". What "authentic" really means is that the food is great, it is made by actual Mexican people, other Mexicans eat there, and it is authentic in some ways to some region or regions, but there's some Mexican in another neighborhood in Mexico saying, "no gringo, that's not how my mama made it." Enough about the uselessness of the word authentic when it comes to food.

Chile Verde's tacos are no frills (just like the place, which used to be a gas station), and more on the traditional side when you order the Tacos Mexicanos as they just have the meat, chopped onions, and cilantro. That's it. The meat is well-seasoned and the tacos are delicious. The meat choices are steak, barbacoa (bbq beef), chicken, pork, tongue, tripe, and lamb.

You can see that it's not fancy, served on a styrofoam plate, but it is tasty. They also have Tacos Americanos where you get the tomatoes, lettuce and cheese.

There is a small Mexican market inside with hot sauces, canned refried beans, chiles, tortillas, corn meal, etc.

Order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table.

Steak, Pork, and Chicken Tacos at Chile Verde

Steak, Pork, and Chicken Tacos at Chile Verde

Chile Verde Tacos Closer Look

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Chile Verde Tacos Closer Look

Market at Chile Verde

Market at Chile Verde

4. El Huarache Veloz Restaurant
7100 49th St N
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 525-6028
https://www.facebook.com/CiriloLeon7100/

El Huarache is the real deal. It's a small place with only seven tables, and they are here to feed the blue-collar Mexican workers in the neighborhood. This is the food you would likely get if you went to someone's house in Mexico. Aside from me, every patron was Mexican, and speaking Spanish. The menu is even in English and Spanish. They open early at 10 am, but they also close early at 8 pm, so keep that in mind when planning your visit. As you can see from the photo, they do give you the option to gringo-ize your tacos.

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The place is the size of a large walk-in closet, cash only, with mostly Mexicans eating there, but it is full table service with an extensive menu of Mexican goodies you don't find many other places. (Note to self: Get back to El Huarache soon and try some of the weird stuff.)

Review of El Huarache Veloz

Tacos at El Huarache Veloz

Tacos at El Huarache Veloz

5. Nueva Cantina
1625 4th St South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 851-9579
https://www.nuevacantina.com

(Tampa location: 4918 S MacDill Ave, Tampa, FL 33611)

Nueva Cantina opened in St. Pete two and a half years ago, November 1, 2016, and their South Tampa location just opened a couple of weeks ago on July 12, 2018. They have their own twist on things, some more Mexican, others more Americanized, and some really cool things that I describe as Mexican-Latin Fusion, like Picadillo Tacos. How cool is that?

Seasoned Ground Steak with pico de gallo, lettuce, and Mexican cheese. Quite well-seasoned, super tasty. Nueva's picadillo is the style that is slightly red, more tomato-like, sans raisins and olives, less sweet, more savory (the style Lori likes the best) ... and it's ground steak!

There's the crazy-ass Taco Loco - Grande fried taco shell with pork, chicken, picadillo, lettuce and Mexican cheese topped with verde and rojas sauce. It is literally bigger than your head.

The Surf & Turf Tacos are decadent - Grilled Sirloin & Maine Lobster, red cabbage, pico de gallo topped with Hollandaise sauce. There are nice tender chunks of steak 2½" long by 1" wide - 4 pieces in the bottom of each taco (you get three tacos with an order), with the generous portion of lobster on top as fresh and buttery as can be.

I've also had and recommend the Mojo Pork, Pescado, Crispy Shrimp, and Braised Short Ribs.

Full table service, full blown Mexican restaurant.

Nueva Cantina Picadillo Tacos

Nueva Cantina Picadillo Tacos

A Closer look at the Nueva Cantina Picadillo Tacos

A Closer look at the Nueva Cantina Picadillo Tacos

Taco Loco

Taco Loco (He Crazy!)

Surf & Turf Tacos

Surf & Turf Tacos at Nueva Cantina

Pork, Shrimp, and Pescado Tacos

Pork, Shrimp, and Pescado Tacos

(Photo by Barry Lively)

Braised-Short-Rib-Tacos

Braised Short Rib Tacos - Grilled Onions, Rojo Cabbage, Horseradish Habanero Sauce and Nueva BBQ sauce.

(Photo by Barry Lively)

6. NuMex Chile
2710 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, Florida 33712
(727) 592-4326
http://numexchile.com

NuMex didn't have tacos in the beginning. Their cuisine is New Mexican (like the U.S. state), and most of their recipes feature the famous certified Hatch Chiles from New Mexico. However, people kept coming in asking for tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, and now they have all of those with their own NuMex twist.

NuMex's taco choices are Carne, Ground Beef, Chicken, Tempeh Soyrizo, or Machaca Topped with Lettuce, Cabbage and Salsa Fresca. I went with ground beef with soft corn tortillas. The seasonings and flavor showed up for work and went above and beyond the call of duty. Just scrumptious!

Full table service, full blown New Mexican restaurant.

NuMex Ground Beef Tacos

NuMex Ground Beef Tacos

7. Red Mesa Cantina
128 3rd St South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-8226
http://www.redmesacantina.com

Over the course of 9½ years, I have been to Red Mesa Cantina over 100 times, and have eaten the tacos about 75 times.

They offer a nice variety of small, single-serve, open-face, more gourmet-like toppings on corn tortillas, which turn out to be bigger than they look once you start eating them.

Some of my favorites are the Baja Fish, Shrimp, Steak, and Pork. There's also the Crispy (mini hard shell corn tortillas) Tuna Tacos in the appetizers section, and even Filet Mignon Tacos served open face on soft tacos.

If you want something more homey, street fare-style, there's the Shredded Beef Tacos - Homemade Crispy Shell, Lettuce, Pico De Gallo and Jack Cheese - Served with Salsa and Gallo Pinto.

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I've eaten them all several times, except for the filet mignon, which I only had once so far, as it was a special recently.

Full table service, full blown Mexican restaurant.

Tacos - Baja Fish - Grilled fresh fish, salsa roja, Mexican slaw and lime crema. Pulled Pork - Shredded roast pork, guacamole, cilantro onion and radish. Duck - Orange braised duck confit, grilled pineapple, goat cheese, cilantro and red chile jelly

Tacos - Baja Fish - Grilled fresh fish, salsa roja, Mexican slaw and lime crema. Pulled Pork - Shredded roast pork, guacamole, cilantro onion and radish. Duck - Orange braised duck confit, grilled pineapple, goat cheese, cilantro and red chile jelly

(Photo by Barry Lively)

Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos

Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos

(Photo by Barry Lively)

Crispy Tuna Tacos

Crispy Tuna Tacos

(Photo by Barry Lively)

Baja Fish and Shrimp Tacos

Baja Fish and Shrimp Tacos

Filet Mignon Tacos

Filet Mignon Tacos

Steak Tacos

Steak Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

8. Red Mesa Mercado
1100 1st Ave North
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 954-7430
http://www.redmesamercado.com

Red Mesa Mercado doesn't get enough props. I think their offerings are what most Americans grew up with as "Mexican food". In Mexico, there's no such thing as a crunchy taco, but those were the first tacos I ever had as a kid with ground beef, lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes. (They offer soft tortillas here too - both flour and corn.) The ground beef is wonderfully seasoned to be extremely flavorful, and the corn tortillas are fresh fried to order.

When I am just craving that homey, juicy ground beef with lettuce, tomato, cheese and yummy crunchiness, this is my go-to.

Another great thing about Red Mesa Mercado is that they open at 7:30 am (9 on weekends), and you can get breakfast tacos. Tacos for breakfast? Hell yes!

Order at the counter, and get your food at the next window when your name is called.

(The original location, Red Mesa Restaurant, has great tacos as well. All three Red Mesa's have separate menus and unique food. Located at 4912 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33703.)

Breakfast Tacos - Scrambled Eggs And Mexican Chorizo on Two Fresh, House-Made Flour Tortillas With Pico De Gallo, Queso Fresco And Fresh Cilantro

Breakfast Tacos - Scrambled Eggs And Mexican Chorizo on Two Fresh, House-Made Flour Tortillas With Pico De Gallo, Queso Fresco and Fresh Cilantro

(Photo by Barry Lively)

Crisp Taco - Corn Tortilla with Ground Beef, Lettuce, Cheese, Tomatoes

Crisp Taco - Corn Tortilla with Ground Beef, Lettuce, Cheese, Tomatoes

Shrimp Tacos - Seasoned Grilled Shrimp, Cabbage Slaw, Pico De Gallo, Chipotle Mayo

Shrimp Tacos - Seasoned Grilled Shrimp, Cabbage Slaw, Pico De Gallo, Chipotle Mayo

(Photo by Barry Lively)

9. TacoSon Mexican Grill
2510 22nd Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 851-9800
https://www.tacosonmexicangrill.com

TacoSon is in the "Home Depot" area of 22nd Ave just a little past it coming from downtown, and just a little before Chile Verde. (They also have locations in Tampa and Wesley Chapel.)

It's not a fancy place, but the food is excellent. They also open early at 7:30 Mon-Sat, 11 on Sun.

Their website says, "We are a family-owned business from Sonora, Mexico hence the name TacoSon." They also say that they are 100% authentic, but we already talked about "authentic".

What they definitely are is 100% delicious! The meats are seasoned so well, and they are tender and juicy. Try the Extra Hot Sauce if you like it spicy.

All of the tacos come with shredded cabbage, onions, cilantro, tomatoes and choice of meat for only $2.50 each. You can add cheese for 25¢.

They have all of the regular meats, plus beef tongue. We had steak, shredded beef, shredded pork, and grilled pork.

Order at the counter, and the food is brought to your table.

Steak, Shredded Beef, and Grilled Pork Tacos

Steak, Shredded Beef, and Grilled Pork Tacos

Steak, Shredded Beef & Shredded Pork Tacos

Steak, Shredded Beef and Shredded Pork Tacos

10. VIP Mexican Restaurant & Lounge
10625 Gulf Blvd
Treasure Island, FL 33706
(727) 360-5062
http://www.viplounge-fla.com

VIP has a huge loyal fanbase, it is very small, and gets crowded early, and always has a wait. There's an obvious reason for that. Go early and be prepared to wait outside.

The Cajun Fish Taco - Blackened Mahi-Mahi, Creole Mayo, Cilantro, and Queso Fresco served with a lime wedge - succulent! I devoured this one. It was spicy, tangy, salty and sweet, and the fish was moist and tender. The shredded beef taco was very good, although the hard corn shell, like the nacho chips seemed like a purchased item rather than house-made. That doesn't mean it was bad. I would order it again.

Full review of VIP

Full table service, full blown Mexican restaurant.

Cajun Fish Taco & Shredded Beef Taco

Cajun Fish Taco (front) & Shredded Beef Taco (back)

Capital TacosCasita Taqueria - 4th St NCasita Taqueria - Central Ave
5226 4th St N
St. Petersburg, FL 33703
(727) 914-4689

2663 Central Ave 
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 498-8749
2701 4th St N
St. Petersburg, FL 33704
(727) 498-6473
Chile VerdeEl Huarache VelozNueva Cantina
2801 22nd Ave North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33713
(727) 800-2679
7100 49th St N
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 525-6028
1625 4th St South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 851-9579
NuMex ChileNuMex ChileRed Mesa Cantina
2710 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, Florida 33712
(727) 592-4326
2710 Central Ave
St. Petersburg, Florida 33712
(727) 592-4326
128 3rd St South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-8226
Red Mesa MercadoTacoSonVIP Mexican
1100 1st Ave North
St. Petersburg, FL 33705
(727) 954-7430
2510 22nd Ave N
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
(727) 851-9800
10625 Gulf Blvd
Treasure Island, FL 33706
(727) 360-5062
10 Best Taco Places in St. Petersburg FL 2018
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Everyone loves tacos and tacos are everywhere. Here are the 10 best taco places in St. Petersburg, Florida.

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, & Haley do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner.
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10 Responses

  1. I'm shocked that you guys put in Taco sun over California taco. Shrimp and chorizo Taco is fantastic. The food quality is outstanding.
    • Thanks for commenting, Travis. To each his own, I guess. We actually did try California Tacos to Go, and a few others that didn't make the list. All reviews are based on personal taste. Do you have any other favorites?
  2. Cilantro tastes like soap to me too!
    • Hahahahaha!!!!! That's funny! Lori will appreciate that one!
  3. Have you tried Taquitos Mexican restaurant in Bay Pines? Right across from the VA hospital. Give it a try and I promise you won't be disappointed. Let me know
    • Luis, I have heard that they are quite good. We haven't tried yet, but will do so soon. Thanks for the recommendation!
  4. VIP needs to be higher up on that list! Like #1 come on now! (Loyal fan if you couldn't tell)
    • Thanks for commenting, Drea. As noted at the top of the list, it is in alphabetical order.
  5. I enjoy trying unique, out of the box tacos. Sometimes tho, it’s nice to have a simple taco with the toppings we grew up on. I think Tijuana Flats is great at providing that. I’ve been disappointed time and time again looking for crunchy tacos (my personal favorite) at the authentic or new age taco providers. As you said, personal taste. I’m glad to see some hard shell tacos in your list!
    • Thanks for commenting, Aaron. I like Tijuana Flats as well. We usually try to stay with smaller operators, but Tijuana could possibly make a future list as they are FL based, and mostly local.

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