Taco Party in Three Hours

Beef tacos

Carnitas I’ll give you 100 pesos if you can name one person who doesn’t like a taco bar.

It’s the ultimate comfort food. It works for both super casual and semi-formal parties. You can serve it poolside in the summer or with the snow falling on New Year’s Eve. Nine year-olds crave tacos as much as ninety year-olds. Those watching calories can make a salad and vegetarians can… Okay, okay, you get the idea. It is, quite simply, a great party anytime of the year.

beef tacos The only tricky part to this menu are the avocados. Fresh guacamole is crucial, so shop at least 3-4 days early to ensure the avocados are perfectly ripe. Know how to tell? They should be firm to the touch, with just a slight softness when pressed. Be sure to press near the base of the avocado to avoid bruising. (Bruising of the fruit, not you!) If they ripen early, just put them in the fridge till party day. In a pinch, you could use prepared guacamole, but definitely “not so bueno.” salsa verde

Taco Party Menu


Taco Bar:


  • Ice Cream Sundaes
    • Good ice cream of choice, i.e. vanilla, coffee, chocolate and/or butter pecan
    • Dulce de leche, caramel,  chocolate sauce and/or Kahlua sauce
  • Coffee

That’s it! You should be able to complete the meal in 3 hours. If you want a bit more direction, though, feel free to keep reading.

Four Days Before Party

Check out the avocado supply at your grocery store. While you’re there, just go on and get that shopping behind you.

Shopping List

  • 10- 12 avocados (10 for guacamole and 2 for diced garnish)
  • 2 pounds tomatillos
  • 3 large red tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 small bunch basil or mint (for rice)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 5 large onions
  • 3 inch piece of ginger
  • 5 bulbs garlic or 45 individual garlic cloves
  • 6 jalepeño or serrano peppers
  • 5 limes (additional if making margaritas*)
  • 2 naval oranges, preferably organic
  • 4 tablespoons medium hot ground chile pepper, i.e. Hatch or chipotle
  • 30 tortillas, corn or flour (the freshest you can find) or prepared taco shells
  • 1 stick butter
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • Half and half or milk for coffee
  • 16 ounce bagged shredded cheese, i.e. cheddar or Mexican blend
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 64 ounces chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
  • 1 pork shoulder roast, approximately 4 pounds
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large bottle Mexican red salsa
  • 3 large bags good tostado chips, preferably homestyle
  • 2 cans lager beer
  • Other drinks of choice, i.e. soda, sparkling water, beer and/or wine
  • Coffee
  • 1 1/2 gallons ice cream of choice, i.e. vanilla, coffee, chocolate or butter pecan
  • 16 ounces good ice cream sauce, i.e. dulce de leche or chocolate
  • Optional: Kahlua and 1 cup toasted pecan pieces for ice cream
  • Ice
  • olive oil for cooking

* If making 12 margaritas, an additional: 12 limes, 24 ounces Herradura Silver tequila and 12 ounces Cointreau

Day of the Party

We assume you’re making the food the afternoon of the party with about an hour afterwards to relax. Alternatively, except for the guacamole, you could prepare the dishes a day or two ahead, store in fridge, then reheat before the party.

  1. Place sodas, water, white wine, etc. in fridge or ice chest to cool.
  2. Make Carnitas and place in oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Optional while cooking carnitas: Toast chopped pecans in hot oven for ice cream sundaes.
  4. Make Restaurant-Style Beef Tacos and place on stove to simmer.
  5. Make Perfectly Easy Salsa Verde in blender. Transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge.
  6. Get out remaining serving pieces (bowls and utensils for guacamole, chips, carnitas, beef tacos, rice, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, diced avocado) and dinnerware (plates, glasses, forks, napkins, bowls and spoons for ice cream.) Arrange on buffet or dining table.
  7. Make Coconut Ginger Rice. When broth is absorbed, turn off heat and allow to sit on stove till reheated. (Up to 3 hours)
  8. Make Red Chile Margaritas and place in pitcher in fridge.
  9. Optional: Put coffee in coffee maker, ready to turn on before dessert.
  10. Rim margarita glasses with salt and chile pepper and set aside.
  11. Make Classic Guacamole, cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge.
  12. Chop garnishes of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro in food processor or by hand. Dice remaining avocados and sprinkle with a bit of lime juice. Cut remaining limes into eighths. Put all in small bowls or arrange on large serving platter and cover with plastic wrap, if needed.
  13. Put chips in one or two serving bowls and place in entertaining area, along with salsas.
  14. Clean kitchen and prep area.
  15. Get dressed or put your feet up and relax until the doorbell rings.

When guests arrive, serve appetizers and drinks. For the main course, put carnitas, beef, rice, taco shells and tortillas at the buffet beside the garnishes. Warm tortillas, by wrapping several at a time in wet paper towel and heat them in microwave for a few seconds. Stack and enclose them in a tea towel or cloth napkin and place them on the buffet. Don’t forget to turn on the coffee! Bon appétit! Carnitas


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