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 Make-Ahead Taco Bar Party for Easy Entertaining
One of the reasons a taco bar is a great dinner party solution is that 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 dinner! You get to mix and mingle and not worry about getting dinner on the table in time.
I’ve got you covered with a complete menu, prep checklist and solutions for hosting a festive, yet minimalist, taco bar party.
The Taco Bar Menu
These recipes take advantage of time-saving kitchen gadgets like the slow cooker, Instant Pot and freezer! Not only can you make dishes in advance, you can set it and forget it.
Appetizer: Chips + Simple Charred Tomato Salsa
I wholeheartedly believe that at least one part of a dinner party needs to include emptying a package of something into a dish. Normally, that would be assembling a cheese board (unwrap + plop it down!).
In this case, you can’t go wrong with chips and dip! Open a bag of your favorite tortilla chips and keep it super simple with store-bought dips. Or, make Simple Charred Tomato Salsa way in advance and freeze!
Drinks: Big Batch Frozen Pink Cadillac Margaritas
What’s a fiesta without margaritas?! These Frozen Pink Cadillac Margaritas make ten servings and they’re so easy to mix up. Because they need at least an overnight in the freezer, you can make these way in advance as well.
For non-marg drinkers, be sure to offer options like beer, tropical juices, mango iced tea or fruity sparkling water.
Sides: Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Brown Rice and Charred Corn Salad with Black Beans + Poblano
The Instant Pot makes easy work of Cilantro Lime Brown Rice, but you can also make this on the stove-top if you’re without a pressure cooker.
Charred Corn Salad with Black Beans + Poblano makes for a fresh accompaniment — as a side dish or a taco topping.
Main Event: Slow Cooker Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos
Cooking these Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos in the slow cooker means you can set it and forget it!
The recipe includes homemade creamy jalapeno slaw and pico de gallo to garnish your tacos. Save yourself a step by purchasing fresh pico at the supermarket, but I highly recommend making the slaw. You’ll also need avocados and blue cheese crumbles for garnish.
You can warm a big batch of tortillas in the microwave or your outdoor grill to make quick work of it. Once heated, wrap them in a towel to keep warm on your buffet table.
Dessert: Mango Lime Popsicles with Kiwi
These Mango Lime Popsicles are so refreshing! They’re made with simple ingredients including whole fruit. Popsicles are the ultimate make-ahead dessert.
Want to offer another dessert option? Doctor up box cake mix by substituting a 20 oz can of crushed pineapple for the water. Bake cupcakes and frost them with vanilla icing. Get super festive by drizzling the tops with dulce de leche or garnishing with edible flowers.
Taco Bar Party Prep Checklist
At least a week in advance:
- Make Simple Charred Tomato Salsa and freeze.
- Make Big Batch Frozen Pink Cadillac Margaritas and freeze.
- Make Mango Lime Popsicles with Kiwi.
Two days before:
- Make Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Brown Rice and store in the refrigerator.
- Make Slow Cooker Smoky BBQ Beef Tacos (the meat only), shred and store in the refrigerator.
The day 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.
The day of:
- 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.
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Decor Ideas for a Minimalist Taco Bar Party
I’m not really into gathering all the decorations from the party supply store. I prefer a neutral backdrop with pops of natural elements and color from consumables (like flowers). But, that’s me…and you should totally do you!
Here are some of the simple decorative elements I incorporated into our taco bar:
- Macrame table runner — I think this evokes a little Latin flavor (think of the patterns in papel picado) in a super subtle way. And, you can use it again and again for any occasion!
- Candles — borrow these from around your 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 is the server I used for the taco meat and rice. I’ve had it for years and appreciate that it takes tea lights (not sternos).
- 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.
More Entertaining Ideas…
- A Low Key 4th of July Tablescape + Menu
- Halloween Party on Wheels
- A Mother’s Day Garden Tea
- A Normandy-Inspired Dinner Party
Share Your Taco Bar!
Did you try out this menu for your taco bar party? I’d love to see your spin on it! Snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@sipandsanity) so I can shower you with compliments!