toptacomargs

Margaritas line a bar at Top Taco, the annual taco festival and contest in New Orleans.

They came, they saw, they ate a lot of tacos. And they had some tequila and mezcal drinks to wash them down, all along the New Orleans riverfront for Top Taco 2019.

The event, now in its third year, had to push back from its original March date due to the threat of severe weather. It was greeted by a pristine late spring evening in New Orleans when it convened on May 16 at Woldenberg Park.

The food fest doubles as a competition among dozens of local restaurants, vying for awards from judges and the crowd in various categories for tacos and cocktails.

The biggest winner for 2019 was Johnny Sánchez, the modern taqueria now led by chefs Aarón Sánchez and Miles Landrem. For the second year in a row, it nabbed the overall championship title, the David Montes de Oca Ultimate Top Taco Champion (named for the late founder of Kenner's Taqueria Chilangos, who swept Top Taco in its debut year).

The Velvet Cactus of Lakeview had a strong showing in several categories and so did Los Jefes of Metairie. Tacos & Beer in the Lower Garden District won a cocktail award, and Barracuda, which just opened Uptown last month, brought home some hardware to decorate the new stand. 

Here are the winner of the 2019 Top Taco festival.

David Montes de Oca Ultimate Top Taco Champion: Johnny Sánchez

Critic's Choice - Drinks

Traditional Margarita

1st Place - The Velvet Cactus

2nd Place - Barracuda

3rd Place - Casa Borrega

Creative Cocktail

1st Place - Tacos & Beer

2nd Place - Los Jefes

3rd Place - Warbucks

People's Choice - Drinks

Traditional Margarita

1st Place - The Velvet Cactus

2nd Place -Zócalo

3rd Place - Casa Borrega

Creative Cocktail

1st Place - Los Jefes

2nd Place - Casa Maria

3rd Place - Warbucks

Critic's Choice - Taco

Traditional Taco

1st Place - Los Jefes

2nd Place - Wayfare

3rd Place - Espíritu

Creative Taco

1st Place - Johnny Sánchez

2nd Place - Los Jefes

3rd Place - Zócalo

People's Choice - Taco

Traditional Taco

1st Place - Barracuda

2nd Place - Los Jefes

3rd Place - Espiritu

Creative Taco

1st Place - Johnny Sánchez

2nd Place - Ugly Dog Saloon

3rd Place - Los Jefes


Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.