Bricklayer Tacos (Tacos de Albanil)

by Hilary Gauntt on May 11, 2016

This recipe is named for the street food served at construction sites in Mexico. The bacon and fire-roasted tomatoes add a depth of rich, smoky flavor that is surprising for a dish that comes together so quickly with no marinating time.

Pati Jinich is resident chef of the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., has a PBS cooking show called “Pati’s Mexican Table”, and is a Mom to three young boys. This recipe is from her second cookbook, “Mexican Today”.

1 pound ripe tomatoes or one 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes

8 ounces thick sliced bacon

2 pounds beef sirloin or tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces

kosher salt, or sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 large or 2 medium onions, cut in half, then into thin slivers (2 cups slivered onions)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 jalapeno chilies, seeded if desired, sliced thin (more or less to taste)

Flour or corn tortillas


If using fresh tomatoes, preheat the broiler. Line a baking dish or baking sheet with foil. Place the tomatoes on the foil and place under the broiler, 2 to 23 inches from the heat. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes and flip over. Broil for another 4 to 5 minutes until the skin is charred and the tomatoes are completely soft. Once cool enough to handle, chop coarsely without discarding the juices or the seeds. Transfer with juices and seeds to a bowl. If using canned fire-roasted tomatoes, chop, without discarding juices.

Cut the bacon strips crosswise into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Heat a deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until it starts to crisp and lightly brown. ( I did pour off most of the bacon grease.) Add the meat and season with salt and pepper.Sear the meat for about 2 minutes per side.

Add the onion, garlic, and chilies to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the chopped tomatoes. Stir occasionally and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Heat a skillet or comal over medium-low heat. Once hot, heat the tortillas for about 1 to 2 minutes per side, until completely malleable and lightly browned in spots. Place the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel or cloth napkin. Serve with salsa alongside the beef al albanil; guests can fill the tortillas with the amount of filling they desire. Serves 6.

Note: I used the canned fire-roasted tomatoes which worked fine and greatly simplified this recipe! (And I used a bit extra). I thought the 1 inch chunks of sirloin were on the chewy side, so the second time I made this I sliced the steak into bite size strips which eliminated the problem. I’m sure tenderloin would be wonderful but can’t imagine paying that much for my street tacos! Along with the salsa, some guacamole and cilantro were great additions. You can make this ahead and reheat it, and leftovers make a terrific lunch. Loved the snack size flour tortillas the best with this.

street tacos

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne May 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Well, this recipe arrived on the right day! I was planning to slow cook some taco meat this morning when i saw this in my email. Only thing was that I had 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts that I needed to use. So I used all the other ingredients as written, also using the canned DICED fire-roasted tomatoes. I cut the chicken into 1-inch slices before adding. And then put the heavy lid on the Le Creuset and let it all simmer for a couple hours so that the chicken would shred. It was absolutely delicious!! I think it’s the 8 slices of bacon that make the difference! Will do it next time with beef. Thank you once again for an inspired post!


Hilary Gauntt May 13, 2016 at 4:47 pm

So happy to know it can be made with chicken as well! Sounds delicious- thanks Yvonne!


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