Who doesn’t love tacos? Change up your taco game, and instead of those same-old-same-old boring tacos, jazz things up with a taco bar! Perfect on Taco Tuesday or for entertaining friends, these taco bar ideas are fun, tasty, and impressive!
What Is A Taco Bar?
A taco bar is a fun and interactive way to enjoy tacos with friends and family. It’s a spread of various fillings, toppings, and other accompaniments that allows everyone to customize their own tacos. All you need is a table or counter to set up your ingredients and let the taco making commence.
Taco bars are perfect for dinner with the family, at game-day parties, or anytime you’ve got friends or family coming over. The best part is that people can make what they like, how they like it.
Why Bother With A Taco Bar?
Don’t just sit around the table and pass plates of food. There are many reasons to have a taco bar, including:
- Provides a fun and interactive dining experience
- Allows everyone to customize their tacos to their liking
- Ideal for hosting dinner parties, casual get-togethers, or a unique meal at home
- It provides a variety of options, so everyone is sure to find their perfect taco combination
- Encourages conversation and socializing among guests
- It can be a cost-effective way to feed a large group of people
- It’s a fun and creative way to showcase your culinary skills
- It offers a convenient and relaxed atmosphere for enjoying tacos
- It’s perfect for accommodating different dietary restrictions and preferences
“I love how easy it is to prep the food beforehand, which leaves me more time to catch up with my guests instead of cooking in the kitchen all evening. It’s also incredibly easy to adjust for individual preferences and dietary restrictions because everyone chooses exactly what they’d like on their own plate. Gluten intolerance? Offer corn tortillas instead of wheat. Vegetarian? Skip the beef and add some beans. There are so many ways to make sure everyone is included and has a nice meal.”— Isabelle Frederick, Mama’s Buzz
What You Need To Host a Taco Bar
Before jumping into the kitchen and cooking, here are some other essentials to ensure your taco bar is perfect.
- Taco holders or plates
- Serving utensils (spoons, tongs, etc.)
- Large bowls or platters for fillings and toppings
- Table or counter space to set up the bar
- Serving spoons or tongs for toppings
- Napkins and paper towels
- Trash receptacle
- Warmers (if needed)
- Tablecloth or placemats (optional)
- Serving dishes for salsa, guacamole, and other accompaniments
- Table signs or labels (optional)
- Table decorations (optional)
- Containers for the leftovers.
What To Serve on Your Taco Bar
Next, decide what you’ll serve on your taco bar! Here are the seven best taco bar ideas.
Offer a fajita-themed taco bar. Include a variety of grilled or griddled steak, chicken, pork, and shrimp, along with sauteed onions, peppers, and other veggies. A stack of flour tortillas, corn tortillas, and fixings like pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded lettuce, cheese, and jalapenos will round it all out.
Give your guests a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine with a Baja-inspired taco bar. Include plenty of fish and shrimp options, like Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, limes, avocado, lettuce, tangy and citrusy slaw, pickled jalapenos, pickled onions, grilled corn, salsas, and sauces to mix and match.
Kid-Friendly Taco Bar
Make your taco bar kid-friendly and put out various hard taco shells, including flavored taco shells that you can find in larger grocery stores. Seasoned ground beef, Mexican shredded beef, and air fryer carnitas are kid favorites, as are standard taco fixings like shredded lettuce, cheeses, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and tortilla chips for munching on.
Skip the meat entirely and go for a plant-forward taco bar! Include seasoned tofu, grilled vegetables, jackfruit, black beans, refried beans, and quinoa as fillers. Toppings can include a variety of salsas, guacamole, cheeses, vegan cheese options, smoked jalapenos, fresh herbs, pickled onions, and more.
A variety of hard taco shells and soft corn tortillas, plus fillings like seasoned ground beef, Mexican shredded beef, pollo pibil, and shredded pork, are some classic options. Pair these filings with refried beans, cilantro rice, shredded cheese, sour cream, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. A selection of salsas, like Mango Habanero Salsa or Salsa Verde, rounds out this tasty taco bar.
Fusion cuisine is all the rage, and tacos are the perfect vessel for international flavors. Korean beef, Peruvian ceviche, tandoori chicken, Thai pork, Camarones a la Diabla, Harissa Chicken, Southern fried catfish, Miso Glazed Salmon, and more all make great fillings. Toppings can include spicy wasabi, kimchi salsa, tzatziki, harissa paste, sweet soy glaze, pickled vegetables, and various herbs that will let your guests mix and match with international flavors.
Tacos aren’t just for dinner! Switch things up with a breakfast or brunch taco bar and offer scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, chorizo, fried potatoes, and beans as filling options. Toppings might include crema, salsas, fresh fruit, avocados, and limes.
How To Arrange a Taco Bar
Ensure that you have plenty of space to put out all the fillings, toppings, sauce, tortillas and more. Every dish should have its serving utensils to reduce cross-contamination, and labels are always helpful so that guests know what they’re getting.
If there are kids around, make sure that there are plenty of snackables on hand, like a guacamole board or even just veggies and fruits for snacking on.
Don’t forget about the drinks! Have a variety of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like boba teas for your guests.
Save time and reduce stress with Advance Prep
Creating a taco bar is lots of fun, but it can be time-consuming if you want to offer a lot of different options. Preparing some of the items for your taco bar ahead of time can make assembly easier.
Pre-cooking meats, chopping vegetables, and having salsas and sauces already prepped will reduce time spent in the kitchen on the day of your event. This will also let you focus on other aspects of entertaining during the get-together. Additionally, pre-cooking certain items can help keep the food fresher; reheating meats and veggies just before serving ensures that they’re still hot when guests come around.
If you have any leftovers, you can pack them up for another meal. You can store them in food storage containers in the refrigerator or freezer, or you can even dehydrate many foods for long-term storage. Dehydrated Foodz will help you to preserve some of your food for longer.
The Final Word
Having a themed taco bar will help you stay focused and organized, but you can just put out all your favorites and skip the theme. Just be sure to include a variety of spicy and mild flavors, plus gluten-free and vegetarian options, and you should have something for everyone.
Jenn Allen is a retired chef turned cookbook author, blogger, and traveler. She lives at home with her family and the cats that rule them all. Get all of her travel tips, stories and more at AllTheBestSpots.com.
This article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.