A taco bar can be one of the easiest ways to entertain a crowd of fussy eaters and serve healthy food. When serving a taco bar for a casual party, the food can be presented in a long line, which creates a smooth flow for guests to choose just the food they like to dress the tacos and select side dishes to balance the meal. Tacos can be messy to eat, so having an ample pile of napkins at the end of the serving line is something your guests may appreciate.
Lay out a selection of corn taco shells and flour tortillas. Some people have definite preferences about these. If you want to save money, you can create your own taco shells by frying one side of a corn tortilla at a time, using a pair of tongs to fold the other side directly over the portion in the pan, creating the fold in the tortilla. Then fry the other side using the same technique. Drain the tortilla shells to reduce the fat by balancing the open side of the shell on paper towels.
Chicken, pork and beef are the most common meat fillings for tacos. Finely crumbled ground beef is quick to fry and season with taco seasonings that include salt, chili pepper, cumin, oregano and red pepper. Some people slice beefsteak thinly and fry it quickly, or cook a steak and slice it. Pork roasts lend themselves to tacos and can be baked slowly in the oven or placed in a slow cooker. Diced chicken works well for a taco bar and many people place the white and dark meat in separate bowls to defer to food preferences of guests. Some cooks use Mexican rubs or seasonings when cooking or baking meat for tacos. The meats served at a taco bar needs to be kept at temperatures over 140 degrees to ward off bacterial growth.
The cheese for tacos varies from the cheddar family, Monterey jack and queso fresco -- a white, crumbled cheese. Aged Monterey jack provides a sharp flavor and some types of this cheese contain diced jalapeno cheese, adding heat to the cheese. The easiest way for people to use cheese on tacos is to serve it shredded in either a fine or medium shred. Some guests might like to top the tacos with sour cream, available in regular or reduced fat versions.
Diced vegetables add flavor to tacos and include diced tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, diced white or red onions and scallions, shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce and jicama, a tuberous, slightly sweet, crisp vegetable. Diced avocados or guacamole pair well with tacos. Diced zucchini, summer squash and black olives also add a flavor and texture to tacos. Sauces and salsas add additional fruit and vegetable condiments for tacos. Having a variety of these condiments with varying heat levels can satisfy anyone's taste. Arranging or labeling the sauces with regard to the heat level is a convenience many guests will appreciate.
Rice and beans are a staple when serving a taco bar. Cooks can serve these dishes as homemade or obtain them from a grocery store or Mexican restaurant. Homemade Spanish rice uses diced tomatoes, diced chilies and onions, seasoned with chili powder and salt. Beans are easy to make by soaking pinto or black beans overnight and cooking them until soft and mashing, adding a bit of fat, although this is not necessary. Many people melt cheese over the beans. Keep the rice and beans warm by serving them in insulated containers or slow cookers.