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In The Family
What Is a Vampiro Taco?

Imagine the three-way lovechild of a taco, a tostada, and a quesadilla.

Tacos, tostadas, and quesadillas are all part of one crowded, complicated family of Mexican foods: antojitos. In reality, most antojitos never make it beyond Mexico’s borders, including a funky street snack in Sinaloa called a vampiro. Imagine a corn-tortilla taco that’s cooked on a grill until it turns crackly and crunchy. Then add a layer of gooey melted jack cheese between the tortilla and the other toppings.

This is the vampiro, a food that TASTE correspondent Dylan James Ho describes as “exemplify[ing] and celebrat[ing] the deft skill set and ingenuity of a taquero.” The name is the Spanish word for “vampire,” and there’s a few theories about how it became associated with the snack. Some argue that the tortilla’s concave form on the grill resembles a bat’s wing. Others say a vampiro eats away your hunger the way a vampire would suck out so much blood. We dig that explanation.

Also read: Interview With the Vampiro

Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.