How Mexican Food Conquered America

In Gustavo Arellano’s new book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, he explains our love of all things folded into a tortilla. NPR’s Carolina Miranda recently joined him for a 150-mile tour of Southern California’s taco trail, visiting cultural touchstones in the evolution of the Mexican snack in America.

Stop One: Cielito Lindo Food Stand, Olvera Street, Los Angeles

Since the 1930s, this tiny stand — located in the heart of historic L.A. — has been famous for its rolled, fried taquitos, covered in avocado sauce. Arellano thinks of the food stand as a Plymouth Rock of tacos, one place where the Mexican staple met a broader American audience.

Cielito Lindo’s taquitos quickly gained a following among Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. “People all over Southern California started copying it,” Arellano says. “The exact same way to fry it, the avocado salsa, everything.”

Americans had discovered the taco.

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