Robb Walsh's Tacos al Pastor


Fire up your grill and get ready for some serious smoke.

Robb Walsh's Tacos al Pastor

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Sometimes I worry that my affinity for all things pineapple-related compromises my standing as a food-minded professional. Pineapple and ham-topped pizza? An icy piña colada? Double swoon.

This recipe for Tacos al Pastor The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook by Robb Walsh makes me feel a little less guilty about my love of pineapple. It's a melting pot of a dish that originated in Northern Mexico and combines the Middle Eastern spit-cooked schwarma with all of the essential elements of Mexican tacos: tortillas, onions, cilantro, and lime.

The meat (pork loin in this preparation) is marinated in a mix of orange juice, garlic, cider vinegar, oregano, and dried chile, and perhaps a spoonful or two of annatto paste for color. The meat is grilled alongside slices of pineapple, then chopped and mixed together to make tacos that are porky, spiced, with just the right amount of tropical sweetness from the caramelized pineapple. Unlike other tacos that might need the addition of cheese, sour cream, or a glug of hot sauce, these are perfect on their own.

  • Yield:12 tacos


  • 1/4 cup granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon powdered chile
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste (optional)
  • 2 pounds boneless pork loin, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into long, thick strips
  • For serving:
  • 12 tortillas, warmed
  • Chopped onions and cilantro mixed with lime juice
  • Picante sauce


  1. 1.

    In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, vinegar, oregano, chile powder, black pepper, cumin, salt to taste, orange juice, and achiote paste, if using. Add the pork slices and turn to coat both sides. Marinate for at least 1 hour.

  2. 2.

    Heat the grill. Place the meat over hot coals and cook, turning once and basting with any leftover marinade during cooking, until crisp. At the same time, grill the pineapple strips, turning as needed, until lightly browned.

  3. 3.

    To assemble, chop the grilled pork into 1/4-inch pieces. Cut the pineapple into 1/2-inch pieces. Place the pork on the warmed tortillas and top with onions and cilantro and pineapple pieces. Serve the picante sauce on the side.