The Washington Post

Double-Stacked Shrimp and Cheese Tacos (Tacos Bravos)

Double-Stacked Shrimp and Cheese Tacos (Tacos Bravos) 6.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Oct 6, 2020

These over-the-top tacos, called tacos bravos in Mexico, are like double-sauced, double-cheesed shrimp quesadillas. Cooking show host Pati Jinich learned to make this from its creator, Toño Contreras, the owner of Mariscos El Rey in Guaymas, Sonora. The combined sauce and melting cheese form a crust on the tortilla stack as they heat on the comal and make them irresistible.

6 - 8

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Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • 2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 to 3 chiles de árbol, stemmed but not seeded, or more to taste (may substitute 2 dried guajillo or New Mexico chiles or 1 fresh jalapeño)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, rinsed, shelled, deveined and butterflied
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) melty shredded cheese, such as asadero, quesadilla, Oaxaca, mozzarella, Monterey Jack or muenster
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced


In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes, garlic and chiles, cover with water and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, until the tomatoes and garlic are completely soft and the chiles are plump and rehydrated, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes, garlic and chiles to the jar of a blender. Add the tomato paste, oregano and salt, then puree until smooth.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Carefully add the tomato puree (it may sputter), cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and darkened and the flavors have intensified, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan over high heat, 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the butter begins to foam, add half the shrimp and sear until browned and just cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the cooked shrimp to a medium bowl and repeat with the remaining butter, oil and shrimp. Cook in 2 batches so the shrimp sear, and avoid steaming and overcooking them.

Heat a comal, griddle or large skillet, preferably nonstick or cast iron, over medium heat until hot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and brush or spread on the surface.

One by one, spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce over the tortillas and lay as many as will fit on the greased comal or griddle without overlapping. Top each tortilla with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the shredded cheese. Cook until the cheese begins to melt and the bottoms of the tortillas begin to dry and brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, stack one tortilla on top of another, with both cheese sides facing up. (Don’t worry if the tortilla that you scrape up to stack on top of the other one tears a little bit.) Spoon 3 or 4 seared shrimp on top of each stack, gently fold, and continue to cook until the cheese has completely melted and starts to ooze out and create a crust, an additional 2 minutes or so.

Remove from the heat and repeat with the remaining tortillas, sauce, cheese and shrimp. Serve hot, topped with sliced avocado.

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Recipe Source

From Pati Jinich, cooking show host and culinary instructor-chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington.

Tested by Ann Maloney.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8); with 2 tortillas per serving and asadero cheese: 515

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 28g 43%

Saturated Fat: 11g 55%

Cholesterol: 188mg 63%

Sodium: 960mg 40%

Total Carbohydrates: 36g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 7g 28%

Sugar: 4g

Protein: 30g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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