Top Taco 2022: First-ever barbecue battle, food lineup announced for fifth annual fest

Top Taco festival announces return in September, moves to Jefferson Parish

METAIRIE, La. (NOLA WEEKEND) - Organizers for Top Taco 2022, the annual taco and tequila-centric festival, have unveiled the music and food lineup ahead of its return to Lafreniere Park on Oct. 27.

Now in its fifth year, organizers say the biggest change coming to the taco and tequila throw-down is an upgraded VIP experience featuring the festival’s first-ever barbecue competition.

Under a big tent, called the Herradura Ultra VIP Experience, eight of the city’s barbecue joints will compete in a one-hour cook-off curated by “World BBQ Champion” James Cruse and emceed by popular Mississippi restaurateur Brad Orrison of The Shed.

Competing restaurants include Desi Vegas Smokehouse, The Joint, Pyre Provisions, City Pork, Smoked, Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ, Crawfish King Seafood & BBQ and Frey Meat Company.

“The Herradura Ultra VIP Experience is more ambitious than anything we’ve ever done,” festival producer Shane Finkelstein said in a release. “BBQ joints have always done well in Top Taco so it’ll be interesting to see how the barbecue tacos compare to one another.”

Aside from the ultra VIP experience, festival-goers on the main lawn can enjoy tacos and cocktails from a huge helping of restaurants and spirits brands slated to appear at the event. Top Taco fans and celebrity judges choose the winners for Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Creative Tequila Cocktail, Top Traditional Margarita -- and a new category this year -- Top Vegetarian Taco.

Confirmed restaurants include Alma, Baja NOLA, Banh Mi Boys, Barracuda, El Cucuy, Billy Wright’s Manuel-style Tamales, Espiritu, Felipe’s Taqueria, The Fillmore, Habaneros, The Hanger, Los Jefes Grill, Johnny Sanchez, Junior’s on Harrison, Palm&Pine, Peacock Room, Rizzuto’s Ristorante & Chop House, Rock-n-Tacos, Saint John, Secret Birria, Shenanigan’s, Southerns, Table & Tap, Tacos del Cartel, Tacos Para la Vida, Taqueria La Lucha, Tava Indian Street Food and Velvet Cactus.

Organizers say more restaurants may be announced.

Participating spirits include Avión, El Buho Mezcal, Canteen Spirits, Casamigos, Cazadores, Cenote, Corralejo, Del Maguey, Don Julio, Dos Hombres Mezcal, Ghost Tequila, Gran Centenario, Gran Coramino, Grey Whale Gin, Herradura, Hornitos, Hussong’s, El Jimador, Jose Cuervo Tradicional, Lunazul, Maestro Dobel, Milagro, Olmeca Altos, Patrón, Tequila Ocho, Teremana, Tres Generaciones, Villa One and Who Dat Spirits.

Festival-goers will also enjoy creative pop-up bar areas and DJ lounges, tequila and mezcal tastings and eye-popping visual elements, organizers said.

Top Taco will also include three stages of live music featuring James Andrews and the Crescent City All-Stars, Otra, Muevelo and Bogue Chitto. Additional entertainment includes live Lucha Libre, Mariachi, G.O.A.T. Petting Zoo, Trixie Minx Burlesque, DJ 2NYCE and the Casamigos Costume Contest.

The festival will run from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Early bird tickets for Top Taco are on sale for $70. General admission tickets start at $85, and early entry/first-tasting tickets cost $105. VIP options are also available.

The event benefits the PLEASE Foundation, a non-profit that provides mentorship, leadership training and scholarships for at-risk teens to attend local college-preparatory high schools.

Lafreniere Park is located at 3000 Downs Blvd. in Metairie.

For more information, visit the Top Taco website.

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey

Shan Bailey is the digital content producer and on-air personality for FOX 8 Nola Weekend. Shan is a creative storyteller who is passionate about creating compelling content that connects with audiences.