Rare is the meal managing to merge the tastes of two different cultures and present an edible lesson in geopolitics. That’s the beauty of taco rice.

The dish — true to its name, finding taco fillings such as ground beef, shredded lettuce, salsa, tomato and cheese plopped down on rice — captures the mix of Japanese and American culture prevalent in Okinawa, owing to the United States’ ongoing military presence in the southernmost part of Japan. While the exact origin and restaurant responsible for taco rice remain debated, most pinpoint 1984 as the year it was created.

Matsuzo Gibo often gets the credit, which Stars & Stripes magazine writes came from his desire to feed local servicemembers something hearty and filling, with rice doing the job better than a taco shell.

Taco rice became a representative of Okinawa cuisine as the region transformed from backwater archipelago into a cultural powerhouse in the 1990s. Now, it’s a staple of any Okinawan restaurant across the country, not to mention a festival favorite thanks to its great taste and reasonable price. A tension hovers over the food, but it’s easy to overlook that while enjoying the Tex-Mex flavor.

If you want to gorge on this Okinawa favorite while in Tokyo, the metropolis has a wealth of options. Some of the taco rice restaurants here offer delicious and even creative re-interpretations of the dish. Here are our absolute favorite Tokyo taco rice superstars.

1. 4649 Taco Rice

What better place to start than the first store to bring taco rice to the world beyond Okinawa? Well, that’s at least the lore surrounding 4649 in Nishi-Shinjuku. The store opened up in 2003 and claims to be the first “taco rice specialty store” to open up outside of the islands of Okinawa. Not sure if that can truly be confirmed, but given the foggy history surrounding the foodstuff in question, it’s actually fitting to let a little mystery hang over it.

It sells eight lunch specials centered around taco rice, ranging from the classic interpretation to a veggie-loaded option including pickles and corn, to a version topped off by a big gloopy egg. Or you can customize your own order and add toppings. Stick around for dinner, when the spot transforms into an Okinawan izakaya offering even more regional specials.

2. Tono Cafe

It takes a little bit of work to find one of Tono Cafe’s three locations. That’s because this taco rice specialist serves the dish from a trio of food trucks, which set up shop in different parts of the capital every day. Timing a visit just right — or trekking out to it — leads to both classic interpretations of taco rice (with a nice protein-rich egg placed on top) and more creative takes. The Thai Chicken Taco Rice introduces poultry and a slight fish-sauce flavor to further reimagine the food’s geographic possibilities, while customers can also experience another Okinawa staple — spam — via the truck’s Avocado Spam Bowl.

3. Harmonica Quina

Tucked away in Kichijoji’s Harmonica Yokocho, Quina serves up fast and filling taco rice. It’s an efficient experience, with customers placing their order via a kiosk outside the shop, then heading into the quaint restaurant, where a towering dish soon arrives. The food comes fast, but there’s no sacrifice on quality. Portions are extremely generous too, with even the regular size providing a substantial quantity of Okinawan goodness.

Under the heaps of shredded lettuce, the culinary surprise in Quina is the avocado that adds a creamy texture. Aside from taco rice, there are other Okinawa dishes too. Chances are you’ll never get bored of the taco rice, however. Quina has monthly special varieties of taco rice, which in the past have included goya, omelets and “American barbecue.”

Tokyo taco rice

4. Hattifnatt

“Tako” means “octopus” in Japanese and you better believe that pun has been explored through the lens of taco rice over the years. One place to try a bowl of tako-taco rice is the charming café and art gallery Hattifnatt (with locations in Kichijoji and Koenji). Both shops serve taco rice with tako (octopus) and surprisingly, it works. They grind it up so that texturally it’s closer to beef and it works even better when paired with chilled tomato and avocado varieties. It also features an omelet on top. The high-quality veggies make it extra tasty, while the eggs help create a diverse mouthfeel when mixed together.

Aside from the food, Hattiffnat is designed to resemble a scene from a cute storybook, so that alone warrants a visit.

5. Madosh! Cafe

The owners of Madosh! Cafe in Shibuya clearly love avocados. Almost every offering on the menu utilizes it as an ingredient, from nachos to pizza to the post-meal tiramisu. Naturally, the taco rice option stands out, thanks to the avocado in the mix. It tops a bed of rice and lettuce with meat, cheese and tortilla chips, adding plump scoops of avocado to circle around it. Mix it all together and you have one of the strongest entries on this list.