by Joshua M Bernstein - 90 Reviews - 13 List
It used to be that if you wanted to find a tasty taco in New York City, you traveled to JFK and caught a flight to L.A. No longer. Now, New Yorkers can gorge on corn tortillas stuffed with crisp carnitas and even the odd bit of brain, tongue or intestine finished with fresh salsa verde. From a Queens beach to a taqueria hidden in a Hell's Kitchen deli, here are New York's top restaurants to go on a taco bender. (Photo Tortilleria Nixtamal)
Updated: August 26, 2010
Not far from the Atlantic Ocean's salty spray awaits this colorful summertime shack, where surfers queue up for some of the city's finest fish tacos. Fat hunks of batter-coated tilapia are fried `til they're as golden and crispy as potato chips, then crowned with cabbage and radishes. Top ?em with the homemade salsa verde, and get a side of guacamole and flash-fried tortilla chips too. Before you leave, make sure you nab a fresh-fruit Italian ice from DiCosmo's next door.
Way out in Corona, Queens, awaits this sunny storefront, which pulls double duty as a taqueria and tortilla factory. Unlike every other taco stall in town, Nixtamal grinds its own masa (corn dough) from scratch. This creates a profoundly fresh, corny tortilla, ideal for wrapping around chunks of fried skate or juicy roast pork--available by the pound, for famished eaters. If you're still hungry, opt for a fluffy tamale stuffed with Italian sausage. It sounds strange, but it's downright delicious.
Upon first impression, Tehuitzingo seems like a dime-a-dozen Mexican deli selling cactus leaves, tomatillos and blocks of cheese. However, past the junk food and Jarritos-stocked fridges sits a tiny window where intrepid diners can order quesadillas loaded with huitlacoche (a corn fungus that recalls mushrooms) and superlative tacos stuffed with standbys (pork, chicken) and rare meats like goat. If you seek heat, finish your tacos with the smoky red salsa and piquant pickled carrots and peppers.
While this Alphabet City taqueria's theme of masked Mexican wrestlers may seem too kitschy (especially when your server dons a luchador's mask), the all-business kitchen cranks out righteous tacos. Opt for roasted poblano peppers paired with Oaxacan cheese; zippy chorizo; or even Mayan-style pork, all served on Tortilleria Nixtamal's terrific corn discs. Down a couple of tacos, and--pardon the wrestling pun--you'll easily drop your hunger.
When this truck assumes its parking spot on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn around 8pm every night, the crowds flock like moths to light--and they don't depart until the cart calls it quits around sunrise. Why so popular? Each palm-size taco (finished with grilled scallions, cucumbers, radishes and a cilantro shower) is $1.50, and that includes al pastor mixed with sweet pineapple, fatty beef (suadero) and, for the adventurous eater, cabeza, a.k.a. veal head. Get three tacos and call it a night. Or a morning.