I jinxed myself when I said (with a taco in my hand) that I was celebrating my last clinic visit at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. I ended up having to go to Baltimore again the following week. With a lot of monitoring and wound care, I am finally seeing progress from my last surgery on December 18th!
I could have reviewed another Baltimore taco spot after my last clinic visit, but I decided to surprise my mother with her favorite cream of crab soup from Vikki’s Fells Point Deli. With that decision, let’s taco’ bout my tacos I had during my fake last Baltimore visit at Papi’s Tacos.
Papi’s Tacos has two locations – Fell’s Point and Hampden. I went to the Hampden location on my way out of the city and picked up my mother’s soup near the Fell’s Point one prior to my appointment. I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to fully enjoy my tacos after the clinic.
The street tacos at Papi’s come in orders of two and include a lot of options. First – overall style with authentic, gringo, or vegan. Second – corn, flour, or crunchy corn tortilla. Third – the filling, which could be short rib, chorizo, al pastor, chicken tinga, carnitas, ground beef, barbacoa, carne asada, shrimp, beef tongue, tilapia, fried yuca, bean and avocado, and beyond plant-based meatless beef. There is an additional charge to add salsas, guacamole, rice, or beans.
For my curbside pick up order, I went with the authentic style al pastor tacos with salsa verde and an order of the gringo style ground beef tacos on crunchy corn shells.
The online ordering process was smooth, and I received my tacos shortly after arrival. Going into this order, I knew I would probably have a hard time tackling four tacos. What I did not know was that three tacos were hiding in each container! I don’t know if the menu changed or if it was an accident, but I was fine with having taco leftovers to eat either back in the Burgh or later on during the drive home.
Now, the crunchy corn shell tacos would not be the best for leftover tacos so I ate two of those first. These tacos have a perfect score for presentation and a 4 out of 5 on my taco scale. The seasoned ground beef was a tad bit dry. A salsa roja could assist the beef. Although the shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, Chihuahua cheese, and crema were beautifully placed on top, I wish the toppings would have mingled a little bit more with the beef. There was too much separation between the beef and the toppings in each bite. With this separation, I definitely found lettuce and tomatoes on my car seat and floor after eating this taco.
Next up was the al pastor tacos. I honestly didn’t know how to tackle these bad boys. Although they looked amazing, picking up an al pastor taco from Papi’s was almost impossible. It was difficult to tell where one cornshell ended and the other began. I noticed radishes on these tacos. I always get excited when I see radish garnish on tacos. In addition to radishes, the taco was styled with chopped cilantro and onion, Mexican green onion, nopales, and lime. Side note – nopales are thick, oval, flat, modified stems of the cactus plant eaten as a vegetable.
When I was finally able to pick up and take a bite of the al pastor taco, I noticed a heavy focus on the al pastor meat with little hints of cinnamon. Interesting consistency, sort of mushy. I would have liked a more burnt flavor or crispness to the fat of the al pastor. I liked the addition of the nopales which would usually have a slight tart flavor, but some of that was masked along with the rest of the toppings. The mucilaginous texture of the nopales probably contributed to the mushiness. I can see this taco being very popular, just not 100 percent for me. I rank this taco a 3 out of 5 on my scale.
All in all, I would definitely get the gringo tacos again and would recommend pairing the taco with the salsa roja. I know I will probably be back in Baltimore again, but hopefully not for anything serious and just a future checkup at the clinic. With all my visits, I am definitely becoming a Baltimore foodie. I now can recommend where to find amazing crab cakes, soups, tacos, milkshakes, and diners. You know, the essentials.
Here is my link to my previous Baltimore taco post: CRAB CAKES AND TACOS…THAT’S WHAT MARYLAND DOES!
Price: $5.50-$7.50 per two tacos, without additions.