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Host a Taco Bar Party! (with Menu + Prep Checklist)

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Host a taco bar party the next time you have friends or family over! Guests can build their own delicious tacos and you can sit back with a margarita and enjoy the party. It’s the perfect low-key way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, too!

A taco party food and drinks table.

A Make-Ahead Taco Bar Party for Easy Entertaining

A taco bar is a great dinner party solution because so much of it can be made and prepped days in advance. With the hard work done, all you need to do is warm dishes and set up on the day of your dinner. 

Of course, it’s also great because guests can serve themselves…from drinks to apps to tacos! You get to mix and mingle and not worry about getting dinner on the table in time.

I’ve got you covered with lots of menu ideas and solutions for hosting a festive, yet minimalist, taco bar party.

Keep scrolling for recipes and tablescape ideas, and don’t forget to download this taco bar party checklist!

Keep scrolling for recipes and tablescape ideas, and don’t forget to download this taco bar party checklist!

The Main Event: Tacos

A crockpot is great for achieving tender, flavorful make-ahead fillings for your tacos, making these Slow Cooker Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos the perfect solution! (It can also double as a chafing dish to keep your taco filling warm.) Also included in this recipe are creamy jalapeno slaw and homemade pico de gallo. I recommend additional garnishes of fresh avocado, cilantro and blue cheese crumbles for a surprising twist!

More taco filling ideas…

No matter what taco filling your choose, try my Homemade Low Sodium Taco Seasoning for healthy, yet big flavor!

Four beef tacos on a plate next to slices of lime and jalapeno.

Tortillas, Shells + Wraps

One of the best things about tacos…no utensils needed! But, you do need a vehicle to load up those taco fillings.

Pick one or provide a variety of taco shells…

You can warm a big batch of corn or flour tortillas in the microwave, oven or an outdoor grill to make quick work of it. Once heated, wrap them in a towel or use a tortilla warmer to keep them warm on your buffet table.

Toppings + Garnishes

There’s an endless variety of ways to dress up tacos, taking them in decidedly different directions.

Cheeses

  • Cheddar, monterey jack and pepper jack are easy to get your hands on.
  • Cotija or queso fresco for an authentic experience.
  • Feta (a great alternative to cotija if you can’t find that), manchego, or even blue cheese!

Fresh Things

  • Shredded lettuce, cabbage or a dressed slaw
  • Veggies like diced tomato and sliced radishes
  • Onions: white, red or pickled!
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Jalapeños

Sauces

Dipping a chip into simple tomato salsa.

Side Dishes, Desserts + Drinks

Mix and match accompaniments for a well-rounded and tasty taco bar!

Taco Bar Sides

Desserts

Drinks

Frozen pink cadillac margarita in a glass with a salted rim.

Simple Tablescape Ideas for a Taco Bar Party

Here are some of the simple decorative elements I incorporated into our taco bar:

  • Macrame table runner — it evokes a little Latin flavor (think of the patterns in papel picado). And, you can use it again and again!
  • Candles — borrow these from around the house. Incorporate different sizes (pillars, tapers, votives) and colors. Colorful candlesticks or votive holders can add to the vibe.
  • Flowers — go with a statement arrangement or make mini bouquets to scatter all around your taco bar. You can select a single color theme or palette, or choose an array of bright colors to bring the vibrance of Latin America to your table. Use jars and glasses for an economical way to create your arrangements.

I love using white serving dishes to let the food really stand out, but colorful pieces will instantly add vibrancy to your table, too! Here are a few serving pieces that can serve you well anytime you entertain:

  • Tortilla warmer (or pancake warmer 😉) — a nice towel and basket work well, too, but this is handy…for weekend brunches, too!
  • Buffet server — this server uses tea lights (not sternos) to keep things warm.
  • Margarita glasses — they’re just fun! Add a little color with these green rimmed glasses. For glasses that can easily serve double-duty as dessert coupes or hold other frozen cocktails, these elegantly shaped glasses do the trick.
Small green mums flowers in a jar.

Taco Bar Party Menu + Prep Checklist

I’ve provided a variety of options from taco fillings to desserts to create your own taco bar spread, but the recipe card below contains all the Sip + Sanity exclusive taco bar recipes as well as a prep checklist for making all the dishes ahead of time! With the hard work done, you get to relax and enjoy the party, too!

A taco party food and drinks table.

Make-Ahead Taco Bar Party Recipes

Linda Feller
Here's all the Sip + Sanity make-ahead taco bar recipes and a prep checklist for making hosting a breeze!

Instructions

A WEEK IN ADVANCE (OR MORE)

  • Make Simple Charred Tomato Salsa and freeze.
  • Make Frozen Pink Cadillac Margaritas and freeze. 
  • Make Mango Lime Popsicles with Kiwi.

TWO DAYS BEFORE

  • Thaw Simple Charred Tomato Salsa in the fridge.
  • Make Charred Corn Salad with Black Beans + Poblano, store the salad and dressing separately in the fridge.
  • (From Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Tacos) shred the cabbage and store in the fridge. Mix the slaw dressing (add the jalapeños to this) and store separately in the fridge.

EARLY ON PARTY DAY

  • Make fresh pico de gallo (from Slow Cooker Smoky Beef Tacos) and keep in the fridge until time to serve.
  • Set up your taco bar and drinks station with glasses, serving dishes, utensils, napkins and decorations.

BEFORE GUESTS ARRIVE

  • Set out drinks (and ice, if needed). Transfer some of the frozen margarita mix to a pitcher or small serving container. Set out lime wedges and a dish of salt for rimming glasses.
  • Fill bowls with chips and salsa.
  • Toss the Charred Corn Salad with it’s dressing. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cheese + cilantro then place on the table.
  • Toss the slaw with it’s dressing. Transfer to a serving dish and place on the table.
  • Set out dishes with blue cheese crumbles, sliced avocado and the reserved taco meat braising liquid (warm it up first).
  • Warm the Cilantro Lime Brown Rice and Smoky Beef Taco meat in the microwave before placing on the taco bar.
  • Warm tortillas before setting them out.
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great ideas for planning. I love the timeline! I’m looking to host a Cinco de Mayo party and this is most helpful!
    Happy party planning! 🙂