bricklayer tacos


Bricklayer Tacos

A taco is a beautiful thing.

One of the most satisfying, versatile, exciting, and downright honest foods I can think of.

Plus, there is no need or mood a taco can’t tackle.

You are hungry and have but one peso in your pocket? Eat a Taco de Nada. You pass a tortillería on your way home? A Taco de Sal will hold you off until you get there. A deep hangover ails you? Go for Tacos de Barbacoa with Salsa Borracha. Did you say you have a broken heart? A pair of fully stocked Tacos al Pastor will be your most effective rebound. You are home with a cold? Soft chicken tacos dipped in fresh crema will make you all better, no doubt about that. Need to feed your teen kid and his buddies before they head out? Crispy Potato and Chorizo Tacos dressed with shredded lettuce, crumbled queso fresco and Salsa Verde will make them happy and fill them up. It’s lunchtime and you are on the road? If you are in Mexico (or somewhere with a large Mexican community), you will find someone with a huge basket selling Tacos Sudados to go. Planning a backyard party? Tacos de Carnitas will kick it off, without you even saying a word.

I could write an endless post on all sorts of tacos and all they can do for you… But, if you want to feed your family a generous, satiating, and super tasty weeknight meal, make them bricklayer tacos. Step by step instructions follow below. But as I cook, let me quickly reflect on The Taco.

bacon for bricklayer tacos
Start with a large casserole or skillet and fry some bacon. Until crisp.

Whenever I teach Mexican cooking, I never fail to say that the food of a country resembles its people. The taco, the most emblematic of Mexican foods, fully embodies Mexico and its people. Through the gazillion different kinds of tacos that have existed, we can explore the evolution of Mexico and the identity of Mexicans. The stories told by each taco, linked to one another, holds us Mexicans (and Mexican food lovers) together.  I am getting a tad too philosophical about tacos, I know… but just think about the possibilities.

meat cooking in the bacon
You don’t need to add any other fat. You will add tender pieces of tenderloin or sirloin straight into the bacon fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let the meat brown without fully cooking.

There is no exact date on when the taco came to be. It existed before the Spaniards arrived in Mexico, in pre-Hispanic times, for sure. There is anthropological evidence that it was thousands, not hundreds of years, before the Spanish conquest that people in Mexico were eating tacos (even if they weren’t called that). Indigenous people had domesticated corn and found a way to make it fully nutritious by way of the nixtamalization process (where corn is shucked, dried, cooked in slaked lime or ashes, hulled and ground) and turned into a malleable dough to be used in a thousand different ways, including tamales, drinks, all sorts of patties and that flat bread we call tortilla.

adding onion and jalapenos to the bricklayer taco filling
Add onion and jalapeños.

Now, how long since has the tortilla been used as an edible plate, or torn into pieces to scoop up food as an edible spoon, or held in hand to wrap a filling to munch on? I am guessing more years than you probably are. The filling could have been cactus paddle or iguana, who knows.

adding garlic to the bricklayer taco filling
Add garlic and cook for less than a minute, until garlic is fragrant.

The first documented tacos appeared in the “Truthful History of the Conquest of New Spain” (1520), by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a conquistador. He reported a taco feast, enjoyed by Hernán Cortes and many of his commanders, where many kinds of fillings were eaten wrapped in tortillas. Friar Bernardino de Sahagún, a Spanish ethnographer, also wrote about many different kinds of tortillas based on corn (different colors including yellow, blue and white; small and large; thin and thick) during the time of the conquest, in his “General History of the Things in new Spain.” It wasn’t until the Spanish arrived that the flour tortilla came to be, as they are the ones who introduced wheat.

charred tomatoes
Add chopped roasted tomatoes. This is how they need to look, charred, juicy and mushy.

According to Jeffrey M. Pilcher, Mexican silver miners invented the taco, but he is most likely referring to the word… The word taco also refers to any small piece of material that can fit into a hole or gap, such as the pieces of paper wrapped around gun powder that were used to extract precious metals from ore, in that same shape. Workers in Mexican silver mines in the 18th century called their meals Tacos Mineros. Though there may be a link to the shape of the other kind of “tacos,” we know for a fact that edible tacos have existed for thousands of years before those…

chopped charred tomatoes
Did I say chop up the tomatoes?

So yes, indeed, there are Tacos Mineros, but there are also tacos for and of absolutely EVERYTHING else, including the Tacos de Albañíl, or Bricklayer-style Tacos, that I am here showing you how to make. They’ve been baptized as such, for they are quick to prepare, very filling and need nothing else to be added on the side or on top.

They can also be prepared on site in a comal and  can use any kind of available meat, as long as it is cut in small bite size pieces. Tacos de albañíl sellers an also be  found near construction sites. Just walk around Mexico City, or come over on a weeknight: It is also one of my family’s favorite fast meals. And you get to pick what kind of tortilla you want, flour or corn.

adding charred tomatoes to the bricklayer taco filling
Add to the mix and cook for a few more minutes.

Soft taco, crispy taco, hard shell taco (wish I didn’t have to say Taco Bell taco but we can’t ignore they have in a way helped to spread the word), puffy taco… I hope you add these Bricklayer-style Tacos to your collection of taco recipes.

finished bricklayer taco filling
You are done. Set it on the table.

Wait, you don’t have a taco recipe collection? Make this your first one!

bricklayer tacos
Warm up your choice of tortillas, corn or flour. And let everyone have a go!

Bricklayer Tacos

Tacos al Albañil

Recipe Yield

6 to 8 servings

Cooking time

40 minutes

Rate this recipe

4.41 from 5 votes


  • 8 ounces bacon sliced
  • 2 pounds beef sirloin or tenderloin cut into 1-inch pieces
  • To taste kosher or sea salt
  • To taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups white onion slivered or sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chile sliced, seeding optional, or to taste
  • 1 pound ripe Roma tomatoes
  • Flour or corn tortillas

To Prepare

  • Place tomatoes in a baking dish and under the broiler for 6 to 9 minutes, until charred, mushy and juices have begun to run. Once cool, roughly chop, but don’t discard the juices.
  • Heat the skillet, add the bacon and cook until it is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the meat and season with salt and pepper and sear for about 2 minutes per side.
  • Add in the onion and jalapeño and let them soften for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and before it browns, in less than a minute, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir here and there and let it all season for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • In a skillet or comal, set over medium-low heat, heat the tortillas. It will take about 1 minute per side. Place the tortillas in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a clean kitchen towel or cloth napkin.
  • Serve along with the tenderloin tips; guests can fill the tortillas with the amount of filling they desire.


65comments inBricklayer Tacos

  1. Noelita

    May 13

    Hi Pati, my sister-in-law told me about your show just last week and I am SOLD and totally obsessed. I absolutely LOVE your show. This recipe is the very 1st I have tried, mostly because the ingredients were on hand and easy to get in a pandemic. My husband and I loved them! I will be trying MANY more of your recipes. I can’t wait to keep binge-watching all your shows. Thank you for being you! Noel Hernandez, Los Angeles.

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 13

      Thanks so much Noel, glad to read you enjoyed these tacos. Stay tuned because the new season will start airing this Fall 😉


    May 06

    I just made these last night cooked on an open fire using mesquite- tan sabroso! Thank you Pati!
    Armando Chavez, Phoenix Arizona

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 11

      OMG Armando, wow, I bet your tacos were delicious, thanks for sharing!

  3. Bonnie f

    May 01

    Hi Pati 🌹, love you and your family,and your show.I need a receipe for red enchilada sauce. Several years ago I found one on the masa flour package i loved it but I have lost it.I remember having cook dried peppers,onions,tomatoes.I can’t remember all the ingredients. then it was put in the blender. Thank u for any help u can give me.God bless you and your family.🌼

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 11

      Hi Bonnie, thanks for the kind words. Here is the recipe for the basic red enchilada sauce You can find many other recipes here on the website. Enjoy!

  4. charlie hilton

    Apr 20

    Excellent recipe Pati, as I fixed them for lunch. Delicious as was to be expected, coming from you. Thank You for your delicious recipes!
    Charlie in Arkansas, USA

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 27

      Thank you Charlie, glad you love the tacos 😉

  5. Ace

    Apr 20

    I think my interest in cooking increased tremendously the day I first saw your show! Your fun, honest and sweet disposition got me interested, and your tasty recipes got me hooked. I really enjoyed your history of tacos and will likely try this and other recipes you offer up! Thanks Pati!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 27

      Thanks Ace, you are very kind. If it is tacos what you are looking for, you must try these, one of my all time favorites 😉

  6. Andrew

    Apr 11

    I just saw your show for the first time here today. I like your enthusiasm. I really liked the ‘belly button soup’ you featured on the episode. I don’t see a search engine on your site or am I missing it? I came across this in my search, I’d like to make a vegetarian version of this using morning star farms sausage or patties in place of the beef. I was curious if you’ve worked much with meat substitutes?

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 19

      Hi Andrew, thanks for tuning in 😉 There is a search engine on the website, it is on the top, right hand side, below “Find the Show”, the little magnifying glass next to the FB logo. Of course you can go ahead and make these tacos vegetarian, I think they will be delicious!

  7. RJ Rave

    Dec 19

    My family loves this dish. We make it for guests as well and they always rave about the flavor. Top with cabbage, queso fresca or cojita cheese and creama

    1. Pati Jinich

      Dec 20

      That’s awesome, RJ!

  8. Robin the Shipwreck

    Sep 05

    Again…blending History with the recipe!!! (“Tacos Mmmmmmm-ineros”) I Love It!
    Your show is “La Bomba”

    1. Pati

      Sep 10

      It’s what I love to do, Robin 😉

  9. Albert Balcer

    Oct 08

    Really enjoyed watching you make this recipe on PBS. How would you scale this for 2 people? I’d make the entire recipe but wonder how it would keep if we don’t eat all of it.

    1. Pati

      Oct 12

      It will keep well in the fridge for a few days…but you can also cut the recipe in half so you don’t have as many leftovers.

  10. Bev Cole

    Jul 30

    I have to try these ASAP. QUESTION:. Where can buy the casserole pans you use on your cooking show? Do you have your own line like all the other chefs on TV?? Muchisimas gracias Pati! Bev Cole

    1. Pati

      Aug 01

      They are Le Creuset !

  11. carole smith

    May 18

    I just recently started watching your show, and I really like it, especially when you include your family. There are quite a few recipes I am going to make. I wish I could get my family to prefer the corn tortillas over the flour. Is there a certain type that are so good they will love them? Thanks.

    1. Pati

      May 23

      The trick to making them switch is heat the corn tortillas the right way: don’t stack them and place in microwave or oven, but heat them either in a preheated comal or skillet or griddle until they are toasty on both sides but without crisping. They will find the magic in them!

      1. carole smith

        May 24

        I’ll try that. I have been guilty of stacking them and heating in the oven. Thank you.

  12. Feeza

    Nov 06

    Thank you for the recipe. Never thought I could cook…

    1. Pati

      Nov 06

      I’m glad you liked it!

  13. Kim T.

    Jul 10

    I made these for the third time, and this time they were taco perfection. I think the difference was letting the bacon get really crisp. Next time I will double the recipe so the cook gets some. thank you, Pati!

    1. Pati

      Jul 10

      Con gusto!

  14. Cecilia W.

    Jun 14

    I was wondering, since I dont have enough money to buy the meat you requested. Can i use carne asada meat. I hope to hear from u. take care

  15. Ali

    Jun 12

    Gracias Pati! My husband (who is from Mexico City) and I absolutely love this recipe. After living in Mexico for 3 years I am always trying to make the most authentic Mexican food that I can and your recipes have been a constant hit at my husbands job at KitchenAid). I love to see what you make on The Chew and I hope my baby will one day love to help me in the kitchen as much as your boys do 😀

    1. Pati

      Jun 12

      Thank you for your message, Ali! I’m so happy to hear my recipes have made it into your kitchen and, also, that they like them at KitchenAid!!

  16. Lisa

    Apr 25

    My boyfriend is Mexican American, and your website really helps with learning how to cook with all of your wonderful recipes–I also try to watch your wonderful show on PBS! I hope to order you cookbook soon.

    Thank you !

    1. Pati

      Apr 29

      Thank you, Lisa!

  17. Megan chauhan

    Jan 26

    Saw this on “the chew”! I got the ingredients to make it right away & I was NOT disappointed!!! Soooo good & soooo easy!! This is my first time making a dish I saw on tv & it was so good I just might do it again! Thanks for making it doable!!

    1. Pati

      Jan 28

      Hola Megan, Thank you SO MUCH for trying them!! Thrilled to hear they were a success, and I hope you’ll find some more recipes to try on my site. Let me know…

  18. theresa

    Jan 23

    I love to cook… I have only one problem my Mexican or Spanish style rice never and I mean never comes out right. .. Can you give me tips or a no fail recipe for rice to help me thank you so much….

    1. Pati

      Jan 28

      Hola Theresa, I like to “fry” the rice before I cook it. My recipe/method is here:

  19. Karen

    Dec 12

    Making these for a party tonight with meat loving friends. I prepared the filling last night so I wouldn’t be rushing after work for this evening. I took a taste though and delicious and flavorful as promised. I think my friends will love them.
    I love your recipes, Pati. I’ve also made the tomatoes, pepper and onion sauce that you simmer and crack eggs into to poach and it was loved by all at my brunch.(Rabo de Mestiza) And I had to use an Anaheim pepper instead of the poblano. I can only imagine how much better it would be. Anyhow, I was asked to host another brunch and make it again! Ha ha!

    1. Pati

      Dec 15

      Haha! So happy to hear Karen (one of my sisters is also Karen… )

  20. Larry Holland

    Nov 15

    Pati, I love your show!!! Your Bricklayer Tacos recipe is what brought me to your site. They are GREAT!!! PBS has done a great thing bringing you on board. I hope you are around for a long, long time!

    1. Pati

      Nov 18

      Hi Larry, Thank you so much for watching! Very happy to hear you like the show & the tacos!!

  21. Rita Valenta

    Oct 18

    I am thrilled to find your website. My signifcant other is from Mexico so I love cooking Mexicsn dishes for him but often find the recipes too time consuming and complicated for everyday. Your recipes make it sooo much easier. Am really looking forward to surprising him with som new meals.

    1. Pati

      Oct 22

      Hola Rita, Welcome! So happy to hear you like my site. Please let me know what you make & if you ever have any questions.

  22. Joyce Saunders

    Oct 05

    My husband and I watched your TV show last night. I love how passionate you are about your cooking. I am making the Bricklayer Tacos today. There is no doubt in my mind how delicious they will be.
    Thanks for this great website.

    1. Pati

      Oct 08

      Thank you, Joyce!! Hope you enjoyed the tacos!

  23. Cynthia

    Aug 05

    I enjoy watching your show and watching you cook. You cook with passion and you love Mexico. I have made these tacos twice and they are a hit. They are great! I’m trying the hamburgers and potato salad today. Thanks for sharing your culture and recipes. Have a Blessed day!

    1. Pati

      Aug 05

      Thank you so much, Cynthia!

  24. Grace Islas

    Jul 08

    Hello Patti, just wanted to let you know that I prepared your bricklayer tacos, sorry with out the tomatoes, and it turned out great. There was some left over and took for lunch. Easy Recipe, again thank you for sharing.

    1. Pati

      Jul 08

      Hola Grace, So glad you liked them!!

  25. C Troxell

    Mar 27

    Sabrosos! Muchas gracias. Que se cuiden.

    1. Pati

      Mar 28


  26. Savvy

    Nov 21

    Really looking forward to the debut of your cooking show- and in the meantime, Bricklayers ‘without the taco’ as I’m on a ‘zero carb’ journey!! Will share your web with others- fresh, simple, direct prep and food!!

    1. Pati

      Nov 21

      Thanks so much, Savvy! Good luck on your zero carb journey…

  27. Irma Rangel

    Oct 18

    Now, that’s what I call a taco with all the delicious seasonings and aromas. Memories from my childhood. <3 <3 <3

    1. Pati

      Oct 18


  28. caje26

    Oct 18

    LOVE the historical and phylosophical twist to the TACO post. Do you have any book recommends (other than your book, of course) on the history and technique of Mexican Cuisine?

    Super feliz por tu exito!

    1. Pati

      Oct 18

      Soooo many! Look for Diana Kennedy and Patricia Quintana’s books, they are both fabulous. Fany Gerson has an incredible book on Mexican sweets as well!

      1. caje26

        Oct 21

        Gracias! Had the pleasure of meeting Diana Kennedy MANY years ago during a short stint at Fonda de San Miguel Restaurant in Austin, Texas. At the time, one of the first authentic Mexican restaurants in the US.

  29. Zora

    Oct 18

    I really appreciate the discussion of history and social traditions that you provide in this article. I am curious about the inclusion of smoked bacon, an ingredient I don’t ordinarily associate with Mexican food. Are there other dishes that incorporate bacon?

    1. Pati

      Oct 18

      Hi Zora!
      So many dishes! Pig was introduced since the Spanish arrived and since then.. it has thrived in Mexican kitchens. I couldn’t even begin to list its many uses…

  30. Denise

    Oct 17

    Hello. A friend of mine told me about your blog and “Cooking With Mr. C.” on Facebook. I now have two favorites. Keep up the great work. Denise

    1. Pati

      Oct 17

      Thank you!

  31. susan greco

    Oct 16

    Looks delicious. Can’t wait to try them.

    1. Pati

      Oct 17

      Let me know how they turned out!

  32. Liz

    Oct 16

    Thank you for the nice recipe, Pati. Have a wonderful day!

    1. Pati

      Oct 17

      My pleasure Liz, hope you have a great rest of the week too.

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