Menu Innovations | April 2016 | By Sam Oches

Why One Fast Casual Put Tongue on the Menu

Beef tongue in a taco? At the San Francisco taqueria Uno Dos Tacos, it's not weird at all. Chef Luis Flores explains.
San Francisco based fast casual taco joint features beef tongue on popular menu.
Uno Dos Tacos' Lengua Taco Uno Dos Tacos

“I grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, so I grew up with my mom making everything from scratch, tortillas and all of that. For my taste, a taco is a homemade tortilla with carne asada on the grill, or with lengua or fish, all freshly made.

“Lengua (beef tongue) is such an amazing meat if it’s well done. In Mexico, every single taco stand I go to sells lengua because Mexico loves it. If it’s done right, it’s delicious. Sometimes, if the taco is undercooked, it’s kind of chewy and rubbery and has a weird taste to it.

“Lengua is almost like having a really good rib eye. It’s one of those things where when people learn what it is, they kind of freak out—first of all, for the look of it. But if you chop it up and it’s well done, it’s just another meat that is really delicious. I wanted to have lengua because it is authentic.

The Players:

• Braised beef tongue

• Corn tortilla

• Onion

• Cilantro

• Tomatillo salsa

“The way I cook it is the way my mom always did it: with onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and a whole bunch of water, and let it boil for about five or six hours to let it get tender. Once its skin starts to come off or come apart, it’s ready to go. If you touch the hot skin and you can’t peel it off, it’s not ready.

“All you need for the taco is a homemade tortilla, lengua well done, onion, cilantro, and then it has to be the tomatillo green salsa to go with it, so the citrus that comes through the tomatillo combines perfectly with the lengua. You can’t have lengua and add a red sauce. If you really want it to be an authentic dish, it needs to be a homemade, traditional tomatillo sauce.”

—Luis Flores

Chef, Uno Dos Tacos

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