The search for the perfect taco: How did this Californian rate Kansas City’s Tiki Taco?

Emily Curiel/

Editor’s note: Star visual journalist Emily Curiel is on the hunt for the best carne asada taco in the Kansas City area. Join this native of Los Angeles in our new video series, “Taco Tales,” as she searches for the taco that checks all the boxes on her list of what’s required for a perfect 10 out of 10.

Tiki Taco was an early find for taco critic Emily Curiel when she moved to Kansas City from California nearly two years ago.

Tiki Taco, 5400 Troost Ave., welcomed her with a captivating color palette reminiscent of a vibrant sunset. The red, white and orange tiles transported her to a beachy paradise. The restaurant’s logo, a whimsical creation featuring a taco, perfectly matched the theme.

The red neon sign bathed the surroundings in a warm, beachy glow.

Would this place provide her with the 10 out of 10?

A carne asada taco is a Mexican-inspired street taco that has skirt or flank steak, onions, cilantro and other vegetables for the filler, salsa and finished with some lime juice squeezed over it.

Watch the video to find out how Curiel scored Tiki Taco’s carne asada taco.

More about this love affair with tacos

With a Mexican father, Curiel grew up surrounded by the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine, especially the cherished carne asada taco.

Her frequent visits to family in Mexico, particularly in Guadalajara and Tijuana, provided ample opportunities to savor the flavors and rich traditions of expertly crafted tacos and offered her a firsthand glimpse into the dedication and love that skilled “taqueros” poured into their craft.

Curiel’s passion for good tacos goes beyond her family heritage. She says she watched several episodes of “The Taco Chronicles” on Netflix and during her undergraduate years studying to be a visual journalist at San Francisco State University she was regularly pitching and covering stories on this dish that has become an essential staple in her life and a reflection of her personality.

She really loves tacos.