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43: Lengua Burrito from El Taco Riendo

El Taco Riendo's lengua burrito is the gold standard for burritos in the Twin Cities.

El Taco Riendo's lengua burrito is the gold standard for burritos in the Twin Cities.

At first glance, lengua isn't enticing.

The traditional Mexican preparation of cow tongue gives the meat a gelatinous appearance. And for many, just the idea of eating cow tongue is revolting -- no matter that it's commonplace in parts of the world where whole-animal cooking is the norm.

Order lengua in one of El Taco Riendo's Cadillac-sized burritos, however, and the gray goodness of the lengua functions no differently than favorite, familiar cuts of meat would.

See also: 44: Deep Dish Sausage Pizza at Davanni's

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Located on Central Avenue, El Taco Riendo is notable for its authenticity and freshness. While many taquerias around town deliver on flavor, certain ingredients are questionable. Stale tortillas and low-grade meats and veggies are the norm rather than the exception. Not at El Taco Riendo, where the food tastes like it was made in abuelita's kitchen.

A word of caution: This burrito is big. Not big like a Chipotle burrito bursting from its seams, big like "this is my one meal of the day" big. El Taco Riendo is generous with the rice and beans (their refried black beans blow competitors' frijoles refritos out of the water), and they're known for piling on two heaping servings of meat.

All the standard fixings are available, plus the addition of cilantro and radish, two traditional Mexican garnishes that don't get their due at some taquerias. The lengua absorbs some of the flavors of the salsas, beans, and accoutrements while retaining the meat's funky pleasantness and chewy glory. The essence of tongue isn't hidden or masked, so you'll have to get over your qualms. Once you do, you'll find it ties all the flavors together to create the best burrito in town.

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