Double-Stacked Shrimp and Cheese Tacos / Tacos Bravos de Toño

Pati Jinichs recipe for tacos bravos " in the Sonoran tradition of super-dressed, super-sauced, and super-cheesy shellfish dishes" from her cookbook, TREASURES OF THE MEXCIAN TABLE.


  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes or 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 to 3 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for cooking the tacos
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 3 cups grated melting cheese, such as asadero, Oaxaca, Monterey Jack, or mozzarella (12 ounces)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced


  1. Combine the fresh tomatoes, if using, garlic, and chiles de árbol in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes, garlic, and chiles are soft. Drain and transfer to a blender.
  2. Add the oregano, tomato paste, and salt to the blender, add the canned tomatoes, if using, and puree until smooth. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour in the tomato puree, using the lid to shield yourself from splatters, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture has thickened and darkened. Remove from the heat.
  3. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once the butter melts and begins to foam, add half the shrimp and sear for a minute or so per side. They should be browned on the outside but just cooked through. Be careful not to overcook, or they will be rubbery. Scrape into a bowl and repeat with the remaining butter, oil, and shrimp.
  4. Heat a comal or large skillet over medium heat for at least 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon or two of oil to the surface.
  5. Briefly dip a tortilla into the sauce, making sure the entire tortilla is coated (I use a pair of rubber-tipped tongs, but you can just use your hands), and lay on the pan. Dip a second tortilla into the sauce and lay it the pan next to the first one, making sure the tortillas are not overlapping (see note). Top each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons shredded cheese and cook for a couple of minutes, until the cheese begins to melt and the bottoms of the sauced tortillas begin to dry and brown a little. Then, using a spatula, scrape up one tortilla and stack on top of the other one, cheese side up. Don’t worry if the tortilla you scraped up sticks and tears a little bit or if it does not sit evenly on top of the other one. Spoon some seared shrimp on top of the stack, gently fold the stack in half, and cook for a couple of minutes longer, turning the stack over occasionally, until the cheese has begun to ooze out and create a crust.
  6. Top with slices of ripe avocado and serve (these are best straight out of the comal), or transfer to a plate or platter and cover with foil to keep warm while you cook the remaining stacks.


If your pan isn’t large enough to hold two tortillas without overlapping, for each stack, dip and cook one tortilla, topping it with cheese, remove it from the pan, and dip and cook a second tortilla, then stack them together, top with some shrimp, and finish cooking as above.

Keywords: / Tacos Bravos de Toño, Double-Stacked Shrimp and Cheese Taco, SONORAN