Aarón Sánchez is a lifelong student of the taco. His education started while watching his mother cook in her New York restaurant. “From her I learned about the roots of food,” he says. “I became a student of my culture and my cuisine.”
Despite having a wide range of experience in Mexican cuisine, tacos are where Sànchez focuses much of his energy, first as a chef, and now as a host on the Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip. So what is it about tacos? According to Sànchez, the appeal is in their approachability and versatility. “A taco is truly the people’s food. It’s just something that everybody loves.”
Though he prefers his food entrenched in tradition, Sànchez is not a taco purist. “You can have an unadulterated traditional taco, or you can have a crispy shrimp taco wrapped in jicama,” he explains. “It’s all one spectrum.”
In his newest show, Sànchez visits everything from Mom-and-Pop joints to more modern takes, and finds something to love about every taco he’s tasted. In fact, there’s only one deal breaker for Sánchez when it comes to tacos: “Tacos are an honest food,” he says. “When you call something a taco, you’re making a promise. When you call something carnitas and it’s not pork cooked in it’s own fat, you’re breaking that promise. I’m all for creativity and innovation, but just be honest.”
After schooling us in what makes a truly great taco, Sànchez told us about his favorite trucks and shacks. “I’m just your guide,” he says, “These are the people who make it happen.” Below are a few of the best spots from around the country.