Point/counterpoint: Hard shell vs soft shell tacos

Two Journal editors discuss the pros and cons to both

Shivani and Maureen enjoy their respective favourite tacos.
Shivani and Maureen enjoy their respective favourite tacos.

For soft shell tacos

Not only are you making mealtime difficult when you choose hard shell tacos over soft shell, but you also make it mediocre.

Put simply, soft shell tacos are practical. They contain all the ingredients you love most in your taco, wrapping them up in a delicious blanket so you don’t have to work to keep it together.

While hard shells leave you struggling to take a single bite without making a crumbly mess on your plate or your lap, each bite of soft shell taco is cohesive and easy to maneuver.

When it comes down to it, hard shells can’t handle the pressure it takes to succeed as a superstar food. When I’m starving and trying to shove tacos in my mouth as fast and as easily as possible, I can’t rely on hard shells. Try shoving a hard shell taco in your mouth when you're hungry — you’ll be left disappointed and likely with cuts in and around your mouth from the sharp edges.

Why put yourself through the stress of attempting to keep together a cracking, unpredictable hard shell? Eating your meal shouldn’t be difficult. And if you want to eat little bits of tortilla chips with toppings all over them, order nachos.

But soft shell tacos aren’t just more practical — they’re also more delicious.

I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten pre-packaged Old El Paso hard shell tacos from the grocery store, but they’re very underwhelming. They lack flavour and freshness that soft shells always have in abundance.

No need to take my word for it — let’s look at the experts. Have you gone to a gourmet Mexican restaurant and been served a hard shell taco? I know I sure haven’t, and there’s a reason for that. Authentic Mexican tacos are served in soft corn tortillas.

We have to trust the inventors of tacos that they know what format works best for a pleasant and delicious dinner experience. Next time you go to eat tacos, choose an authentic gourmet experience, not a American bastardization of a heavenly food.

Maureen O'Reilly, News Editor

For hard shell tacos

I love gourmet food as much as the next girl, but when it comes to enjoying tacos, I’m a hard shell taco fan all the way.

Even though they aren’t as fancy as tacos potentially could be, sometimes you just have to embrace the messy and delicious side of life.

When I think of tacos, I think of the greasy hard shell tacos that Lorelai brought Rory when she was hungover from drinking the infamous Founders Day punch on Gilmore Girls.

I want something I can crunch into, not a delicate soft shelled pocket that doesn’t have the same strength.

Yes, toppings are more likely to fall out and you might need to grab a fork by the end of the experience to pick up the rest. But isn’t that better than having a soggy soft taco where all the ingredients and juices fall through anyway?

If I’m going to a restaurant I may be more inclined to enjoy a soft shell taco since it’s the traditional way they’re made, but when I’m at home making them for myself, I’d never pick up the Old El Paso soft shell over a classic hard shell.

The combination of meat, vegetables, and cheese is what makes tacos amazing but the thing that makes them even better is the combination with a crunch to it. It’s something you just don’t get with soft shell tacos.

Traditionally, hard shell tacos aren’t authentically Mexican. I can certainly appreciate that kind of genuineness, but that doesn’t mean I have to throw away my love for the American version.

What goes well with Mexican food? Corn chips. So what better way is there to enjoy it than to have it all in one – the chips, the meat, the seasoning, the vegetables?

Plus, they are portable; who doesn’t love a meal that is its own package?

Maybe it’s because I grew up having these amazing hard shell tacos at home every week, but loving hard shell tacos is really nothing to be embarrassed about.

Next time you have a Taco Tuesday party with your friends, just consider all the advantages that come with hard shell tacos, the taco shell that is, without a doubt, superior.

Shivani Gonzalez, Lifestyle Editor


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