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How Taco Conquered America

Do you love tacos? Then you'd love this: Carolina Miranda of NPR's All Things Considered went on a little food adventure with Gustavo Arellano, whose book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America explained the evolution of the taco in American culinary life.

But where did the recipe for the Taco Bell taco come from? Arellano says he has figured it out — and the answer can be found in San Bernardino.

"Here, we're at the intersection of old Route 66, now called Mount Vernon, and Sixth Street," Arellano says.

Here stands Mitla Cafe, a family diner that has been serving up Mexican food since 1937. Mitla's crunchy tacos are strangely familiar: crispy, stuffed with ground beef, iceberg lettuce and a pile of yellow cheese. Irene Montaño is the cafe's owner. Her in-laws started the business.

"Glen Bell had his hamburger stand across the street," Montano says, "and he used to come over here and talk to my father-in-law and ask him how to make tacos and how they did different things — but especially the tacos."

Link (Photo: Carolina Miranda/NPR)

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