al pastor tacos from la tejana taqueria photo by spencer pernikoff

Short List: Tacos al pastor

After too much cerveza and tequila, there are few things more comforting than juicy, seared meat in the sweet embrace of a corn tortilla. Al pastor, the Turkish doner kebab’s Mexican cousin, is a smoky, spicy tower of meat that’s calling your name. Thin slices of pork shoulder are marinated in a heavenly mixture of vinegar, guajillo, ancho or other chiles, and earthy achiote paste, then topped with a hunk of pineapple and roasted on a vertical spit until crispy. Here’s the king of taco meat’s best of the best in St. Louis.

La Tejana Taqueria
3149 N. Lindbergh Blvd., Bridgeton, 314.291.8500, Facebook: La Tejana Taqueria

While Tejana’s al pastor may not be cooked on a spit, the flavors are spot on. These are the al pastor tacos an abuela would make for family dinner, substituting house-ground pork loin cooked with fresh pineapple chunks and a secret seasoning blend for the more traditional tower of meat. Sit down with a plate of al pastor and a cold horchata before settling down for siesta.

al pastor tacos from el morelia supermercado // photo by spencer pernikoff

El Morelia Supermercado
12005 Saint Charles Rock Road, Bridgeton, 314.209.0014, Facebook: El Morelia

Here’s a life-changing secret: Every weekend, Taqueria El Morelia opens inside Bridgeton’s El Morelia supermarket to make St. Louis’ only traditionally spit-roasted al pastor tacos. The glistening stack of al pastor meat just waiting to be carved into is mouthwateringly delicious. Top it with a mix of the homemade salsas and toppings – try the smoky tomato salsa, cilantro and lime – then get back in line for seconds.

al pastor tacos from la vallesana // photo by spencer pernikoff

La Vallesana
2801 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.776.4223, Facebook: La Vallesana (The Taco Stand)

If you found yourself on a beach in Mexico ordering tacos, this is what you’d get. Each dark red piece of La Vallesana’s grilled pork is like a tiny, juicy steak. While mild in heat compared to other specimens, La Vallesana’s al pastor has the smoky sweetness of caramelized onion and bright pop of grilled pineapple. My tasting note: pork-fection.