This corn and black bean taco recipe, with Takis, is inspired by Mexico City

Esquites Tacos With Black Beans and Crushed Takis

Total time:45 mins

Servings:4

Total time:45 mins

Servings:4

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I’ve written a lot about the months I spent living in Mexico City because it’s an incredible place, and I wish I could find a way to go back for an extended period of time. The experience remains one of the best of my life. My memories of it range from clear as a cloudless day to hazy, like the hot steam coming off a taquero’s comal. I wish I could time travel back to that period, when my nights were spent dashing from restaurant to restaurant, soaking up the city’s booming scene and my days were filled with some of the best, most elaborate street food I’ve ever seen.

If you’ve never been: Go. Mexico City’s street food is on another level. The flavors of a quesadilla — freshly fried, still glowing hot — on a busy corner can rival that of mole at one of the best-ranked restaurants in the world. I’ve long bristled at the notion that only a fine-dining, starched tablecloth restaurant is worthy of stars. Mexico City’s street food is top notch — and evolving to be better every day.

This recipe, for tacos stuffed with esquites, black beans and Takis, is an homage to my memories of Mexico City’s street food greatest hits.

Tacos, of course, are a street food favorite, so I started there. But then I figured I could fill them with other street food classics.

Summer is for grilling corn. Here are four ways to do it.

Esquites — corn that’s grilled, cut off the cob and then stewed with butter and spices before getting a topping of mayonnaise and chile flakes — are sold from carts and stalls near busy intersections and along monumental city squares. The sellers spoon the sweet corn from massive vats, and then patrons decide how they want the hot kernels dressed. I love them every which way: Buttery and hot in the cooler months, with a touch of Tajin. Or, blended with creamy mayonnaise in the warmer months. That extra fat fortifies them, slicking each tooth-like kernel so that it catches the gleam of the sun.

The easiest way to shuck corn

Takis, cylindrical chips covered in salty red chile powder, are sold in corner stores and clipped to chip sellers’ racks in parks and along major roadways. There are lots of other chips in this category — Doritos, flavored Fritos among them — but Takis bring the heat. I decided to garnish these tacos with a few crushed Takis for added crunch and spice. I found them in my local Safeway, but if you have any trouble finding them, any other flavored chip will do. Just don’t skip the black beans. Lightly stewed and mashed until creamy, they add heft to these otherwise quite light, summery tacos.

Esquites Tacos With Black Beans and Crushed Takis

  • Corn on the cob is ideal when it’s in season >> but you can use frozen corn (defrosted) or canned corn (drained) and sauteed instead.
  • If you’d rather use your own cooked beans >> substitute 1 1/2 cups cooked beans of your choice, drained. If using homemade cooked beans, and they have lots of flavor, then there’s no need to cook them again. Simply mash and serve.
  • Out of tortillas? >> Serve this as a bowl of beans and corn, maybe with chips on the side if you have them.
  • No Takis? >> Fritos, Doritos or any other crunchy chip will work.

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, lard or bacon fat, plus more as needed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sazón or another spicy seasoning blend
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 3 large cobs of corn, preferably white, husked
  • 8 small (5- to 6-inch) tortillas, preferably corn
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or Mexican crema
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese, or other white cheese, such as feta
  • 1/2 jalapeño, chopped and seeded, if desired
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, plus more as needed
  • Fine salt
  • 1/2 cup Takis, lightly crushed, for serving (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil or lard until it shimmers. Add the garlic, and stir until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beans, tomato paste and sazón. Add the water, bring to a rapid simmer and cook for 1 minute, adding more water as necessary to keep the beans from drying out. Remove from the heat and, using a fork, mash the beans until smooth. Cover and keep warm.

Heat a grill to medium, about 400 degrees, or heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat, and grill or sear the corn cobs until lightly charred all the way around, about 10 minutes total. Let cool on the grill or in the pan until cool enough to handle. Wrap the tortillas in the foil and place them near the corn, to warm up. (You can heat the tortillas in a lightly greased skillet instead, or steam them in a damp cloth in the microwave for 1 minute.)

In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cheese, jalapeño and lime juice. Slice the corn off the cob and toss it with the mayonnaise mixture. Taste, and season with salt and additional lime juice, if desired.

To serve, lay 2 warm tortillas on each plate. Spread a circle of black beans on each tortilla, and top with the corn mixture. Garnish with the Takis and cilantro leaves, if using, and serve with the lime wedges on the side, if using.

Calories: 426; Total Fat: 15 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 16 mg; Sodium: 903 mg; Carbohydrates: 63 g; Dietary Fiber: 13 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 15 g.

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.

Tested by Kara Elder; email questions to [email protected].

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Catch up on this week’s Eat Voraciously recipes:

Monday: Cheddar and Bacon Burger

Tuesday: Summer Quinoa Pilaf

Wednesday: Lemon and Apricot Cinnamon Chicken

The Eat Voraciously newsletter recipe archives