A taco is a Mexican-style entree that consists of a tortilla -- either soft or crispy (fried in a "U" shape) -- folded around beef, steak, chicken, grilled or fried fish, or other meat; cheese; beans (frijoles); lettuce; tomato and may have sour cream, guacamole, salsa, corn or other peppers and spices added. It is similar to a burrito, with the main difference being that the burrito is folded over itself so that it may then be covered with salsa, cheese, or other toppings, while tacos are usually folded so that one end remains open. Burritos are also often larger than tacos and may contain rice as well.
"Taquitos" (meaning "little tacos") are tortillas wrapped around a small amount of filling, rolled into a long cylindrical shape and then deep-fried. They are also called "rolled tacos" and, especially in Texas, "flautas" (because they are shaped like flutes).
In Mexico, a restauran or street vendor specializing in tacos is called a taqueria. Typically, the cook in a taqueria will prepare a customer's order with the basic ingredients; the customer can then go to a self-service condiment bar and add salsa, hot peppers, cilantro leaves, chopped onions, and other garnishes. Hot pickled carrot slices are frequently served as a side dish with tacos.
The taco has been adapted in many forms in the United States as well as in other parts of the world. Many fast food chains have developed or adapted the taco to a unique style: Taco Bell and Chipotle are two of the major chains in the U.S. that provide their own unique spin on the taco and burrito.
In almost parody fashion, the taco has even been adapted into an ice cream version: The Choco Taco, produced by Unilever Ice Cream company is a taco-shell shaped cone with fudge rippled ice cream, covered in chocolate and peanuts.
- Karen Hursh Graber, "Wrap It Up: A Guide To Mexican Street Tacos - Part I", Mexconnect