June 27, 2022



Why World Taco Day in Houston is not just another one of those ‘Days’

2 min read

We have reached peak “National Days.” There are literally more of these utterly meaningless honorary titles than there are days in the year, and many of them are purely marketing-driven—especially the fake food holidays.

Did you know that there is a National Lima Bean Respect Day? It falls on April 20, as do National Banana Day, National Cheddar Fries Day and National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day.

But World Taco Day, celebrated March 31, is more than a gimmick in Houston.

World Taco Day mirrors Día del Taco, a tradition in Mexico that’s been celebrated on March 31 every year since 2007. Sure, it was itself invented by Mexican TV station Televisa, but it has deeper roots than National Taco Day on Oct. 4, which is only celebrated in the U.S.

In 2021, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared that March 31 would be World Taco Day in the city. He made the proclamation when Arnaldo Richards, owner of Picos in Upper Kirby, came to him after a rough patch at the Mexican restaurant.

When Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s mask mandate on March 10, 2021, many business owners in Houston decided to keep the requirement. With the onus of enforcement now solely on staff and owners, some restaurants got a horde of angry anti-maskers after them.

Picos received calls and messages threatening to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the restaurant’s staff. “It was horrific,” his daughter Monica Richards told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “I never imagined that they would go that far.”

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Arnaldo Richards told Texas Monthly that he wanted to turn something negative into a positive, and that he always considered Día del Taco the real celebration, not the U.S.’s National Taco Day in October.

“As the first city in America to recognize March 31 as World Taco Day, Houston is proud to embrace people of different cultures and origins, including their culinary dishes,” said Mayor Turner in a statement to Chron. “I encourage all Houstonians to participate in celebrating World Taco Day this year by eating their favorite authentic taco dish from their favorite local business.”

The mayor actually happens to be in Mexico City this week to promote trade and tourism between Mexico and Houston. His communications director, Mary Benton, assured us he was eating plenty of tacos. 

World Taco Day hasn’t fully taken off in Houston yet, but there are limitless options for tacos in the city. This year, Bike Houston is organizing a five-mile bike ride to Tacos Tierra Caliente, the beloved taco truck across the street from West Alabama Ice House in Montrose. It starts today at 5:30 p.m. from Market Square Park.

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