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best tacos in the city?

i love mercaditos but am wondering if i'm missing some better places, specifically taquerias

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  1. I'm a big fan of downtown bakery - closest I've had to San Diego style tacos and burritos.

    4 Replies
      1. re: mrnyc

        San Diego has authentic, Mexican tacos. Mama Testa's in Hillcrest is the bomb.


        1. re: mrnyc

          San Diego totally has their own flair of tacos. Their fish tacos are renowned on the west coast as having a unique flavor that is unmatched by other coastal cities. I would like to find a place in NYC that would have something somewhat equal myself.

          1. re: Foodaholic

            If you are looking for good west coast style fish tacos, you need to try Florencia 13 restaurant. They make the thing closest to the fish tacos out of San Diego. They are from Cali and know what good food is. If you are looking for fusion plates, this is not it but just plain good california style mexican food, this is it. Also, I hear they just made best Margarita and best burrito for 2006 on city search. Check them out.

        1. re: cma212

          downtown bakery is on 1st ave between 4th and 5th.
          i've only had their burritos but they are so good. don't be disuaded by the appearance of the place, it's a little ghetto but that's probably what keeps it cheap!

        2. I have heard the Tehuitzingo Deli and Grocery (695 10th Ave at 47th St) has great tacos, but I haven't tried them yet.

          This is what the Daily News said about it on Jan 30, 2005: "Walk to the back of this Hell's Kitchen grocery store and you'll find a hidden Mexican taqueria with a blackboard that lists the tacos: $2 for most, but $2.50 for tongue, goat or tripe."

          4 Replies
          1. re: Ali B

            Just reporting back.... I have since been to this spot 3 or 4 times... there is a whole restaurant on 10th ave at 47th with some of the best tacos I have ever had... FULL of savory meat that you can hear them pounding in the back as they make your tacos. And lots of really good salsas and hot sauces to go with it. The chorizo and egg breakfast tacos are great, too. Highly recommended.

            1. re: Ali B

              Agreed on Tehuitzingo. It's got the best Tacos/Burritos I have had in Manhattan.

              1. re: ricegeek

                ricegeek: Tehuitzingo serves burritos? Can you describe them for me? Thanks.

                Ali: Did Tehuitzingo expand, or are you maybe thinking of Tulcingo? General consensus is that tacos are better at the former, but I prefer just about everything else (esp. the torta) at Tulcingo.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  I get the two confused... but they both have amazing tacos... and so cheap! They deliver to my apt so I am obsessed with them.

            1. thanks. i live near there so i'll have to check it out. meanwhile, i dont want to get into anything else BUT tacos-- i'm on a quest!

              1. For Mexican Style tacos, the best I've had have been in Astoria at a place called Los Portales. The al pastor is delicious, they're well known for suadero and their chorizo is great. Tacos come with pilla (stewed green onion). Found at Broadway and Crescent.

                1. zaragoza grocery, on avenue a btw 13th & 14th. the beef tongue tacos are out of this world (veal not far behind).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: wleatherette

                    I heard about Zaragoza Grocery quite a while ago, but when I walked in there I was totally turned off by the run down surroundings, the dirty counter and the fact that all their taco preparations were pre-made. There were 3 or 4 things in a steam table - not exactly fresh. Plus I detected a "what are you doing in here" attitude. I walked out, probably never to return. Are their tacos really that good? I doubt it.

                    1. re: Foodboy

                      My experience with taco joints in CA is that all the best places use steam tables (we're talking long cooked meats after all, not oysters) and are a bit on the rundown side. In fact, I'm wary if these elements are missing.

                      1. re: Foodboy

                        they can't prepare a batch of slow-cooked meat from start to finish in 5 minutes while you wait. nothing has ever tasted old or otherwise off, and i've never been given any attitude by the smiling, friendly guy who is usually behind the counter. doubt all you want. it means more delicious tacos for me, i guess.

                        1. re: Foodboy

                          Actually, they are that good. I don't know anything better downtown. As for the attitude, it's primarily a Spanish-speaking joint catering for local Latinos. That's the big city.

                      2. Wingman, saw your earlier post on this place, which sounds intriguing. Do they use rice in the burritos? Do you eat it with a knife and fork or your hands? Thanks.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: a_and_w

                          yeah, good question a and w...burritos in ny are stuffed to the gills with far too many items (including rice) and are not rolled tightly therefore requiring a knife and fork. burritos is so cal are wrapped super tight so you can walk and eat - like a slice here (actually drive and eat would me more apt for so cal), and are stuffed with meat, more meat, and maybe some onions, maybe some cilantro , maybe some guac. a bean and cheese burrito typically does not include a pound of rice like on the east coast, just bean and cheese. and yes, the meat is usually in a steam table cause the meat has been stewing for hours.
                          i need a burrito! a real burrito! please show me the way to one!

                          1. re: billyeats

                            It really depends where on the west coast you go though. Burritos in the S.F. Bay area definitely have rice and beans stuffed in them. Many of the americanized mexican joints in NYC serve this Cal-Mex so-called "Mission-style" burrito, which is really a S.F. style food.

                            Unlike in California, where the majority of the Mexican population are from nearby northern Mexico, most Mexicans in NYC are from the Puebla area well to the south. Burritos, and flour tortillas for that matter, are not really a part of the cuisine of most NYC Mexicans. So while most of the authentic Mexican restaurants in NYC (i.e. those operated by and primarily for Mexicans) will serve something called a burrito, it is generally not going to be one of their strong points. This is one of the main reasons why people who come to NYC from California often complain about "the lack of Mexican food" in NYC, when it's not at all true.

                            On the other hand, tacos seem to be universal, and there are several places that serve fine ones. If you're at all interested in the outer boroughs (yes, I know which board this is, but still...) you should check out the Roosevelt Ave. strip in Jackson Heights and Corona Queens, or the 5th Ave. strip in Sunset Park Brooklyn (Tacos Matamoros is, to me, a real standout). Unlike in California, where much of the meat is indeed slow cooked and served from steam tables, these places make many of their tacos out of fresh grilled items, or best of all from the gyro-like al pastor spit.

                            1. re: Woodside Al

                              Thank you, Woodside Al!!! Finally an explanation for why a good burrito is so rare in NYC!

                            2. re: billyeats

                              if you want a really tasty-tightly rolled-eat with your hands-burrito (may not be cali style) try the take-out at kitchen market in chelsea.

                              1. re: cheflauren

                                lauren, KM is indeed California style, and one of the better burrito options in the city. I just wish they had grilled meats among their fillings.

                            3. re: a_and_w

                              Depending on if I got the mole burrito or not determines if i eat it with my hands or a knife and fork. There is some rice in the burritto but nothing close to the amount of rice you would get from most places in Manhattan. The carne asada burrito has a great flavor of cilantro and charred beef, while the chicken burritto is also delicious. It's a heavy burritto about 4 inches wide and 6 inches long filled with meat, onions, guac on request and cilantro - by far the best I've had in the city and made even tastier with the inexpensive price.

                              1. re: wingman

                                I'm there--thanks again for the info.

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  Finally got a chance to try the carne asada at Downtown Bakery. This was indeed among the better burritos I've tried in NYC, and reminiscent of the so cal. style. Thanks wingman!

                            4. Great Burrito on 23rd (at 6th ave.) serves terrific mexican-style tacos. (everything else is good, too.) Don't be deterred by the pizzas on display: the staff and clientele are all spanish-speaking, and the tacos and tortas are fantastic, esp. the al pastor and the chorizo. I think the most expensive taco is $2.50; it's not plush, but it's my favorite manhattan taco. Oh, and they're open 24 hours, for those late-night cravings.


                              1. LA ESQUINA IS PRETTY GOOD TOO

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: cma212

                                  I second la esquina as well (in Soho/nolita area - the "diner" part of the restaurant. Grab a few and sit across the street in a park with a beer from a deli.) They're simple, small, and on the double corn-tortillas with a wedge of lime, so you can try out a couple (pollo rostizado, steak, and the grilled fish tacos are my favorites.) I lived in SD for some time and to be honest, I didn't care for the tacos there. Tried most of the places from the CA Chowhound board and found most to be wanting. Am familiar with the LA style as well, and for that, I'm a fan of Florencia 13, which is in the village, and is run by a family that just aims to please - super-friendly and fun place.

                                2. anyone been to san loco?

                                  1. anyone been to PALADAR or LA PALAPA?

                                    1. anyone been to PALADAR or LA PALAPA?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: cma212

                                        Both, and have quite enjoyed each. Paladar seems more pan-Latino than strictly Mexican; La Palapa has simple and perfect authentic tacos, small but tasty chalupas, and prices that would be laughable anywhere other than Manhattan, where they're pretty much in line with comparable places. Pio Maya (written about elsewhere on the board) is a terrific inexpensive alternative; haven't had tacos there, but everything else (burritos, sopes, etc.) has been really fine.

                                      2. if i'm at a trendy downtown joint that serves fish tacos, then fine, i'll shell out the $15 for them. but if you want the real deal, tehuitzingo is it. for that same $15 we were given enough food for 4 and cervezas to wash it down. i recommend the tripe and tongue tacos. the pig ear, not so much unless you like the jelly-like texture (and maybe you will!). bear in mind that the ladies here don't speak a lick of english, which is all the more fun because you have to guess which is what.

                                        1. do they (tehuitzingo) have any vegetarian tacos?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: cma212

                                            i think they do - but i usually get the zucc blossom or the huitlacoche quesadillas (i don't eat meat) and they're great.

                                          2. i like the taqueria on Church Ave between dahill rd. and story st. in Kensington, and not just because it's 1 minute or less from my house. straightforward authentic tacos(a little cilantro, a little chopped red onion, a wedge of lime) and $2. doubled-up tortillas, as they should be, and kickass chorizo. also good tortas.

                                            1. I stumbled into a baja cantina type joint in LIC-1st stop off the 7 train out of Grand Central near the Vernon-Jackson stop.
                                              For the life of me I can't remember the name but it sounds like a California vinyard. Anyway, their bbq pork taco's are killer. Best I've had in NYC. I've subsequently tried their beef & chicken tacos but they pale in comparison to the pork ones. These are soft tacos & I have even taken bbq hounds from Memphis here who couldn't believe how good the pork tacos were... I wish I could remember the name of this place-it is near a Chase bank on a main street within a block of the subway stop. Perhaps someone who knows the name could post it along w/the address. Great place though...

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Fallon

                                                I couldn't let it go so I racked my brain for 30 minutes than called my wife who remembered the name of the place in LIC-it is called Willow Creek (told you it sounded like a vinyard) & is located at 10-93 Jackson Ave at 11th Street-it also goes by the names The Cave & The Creek as they show movies there at night, have music, etc. Anyway, it apparently has morphed into more of a scene w/steeper prices than before but try the killer bbq pork soft tacos-you won't be sorry...

                                              2. suenos in chelsea does a great happy hour with a plate of delicious assorted tacos and 2 for 1 heradura margaritas.
                                                i believe the tacos are available all the time but the authentic mex margaritas make it worth the bargain.
                                                all of sue torres' food is quited delicious, albeit a little high end.

                                                1. if you want a tasty tightly rolled eat with your hands burrito, try the takeout at kitchen market in chelsea.

                                                  1. Diablo Royale, 189 W 10th St Btwn W 4th & Bleecker St, has great tacos (the Al Pastor are unbelievable), grilled corn, and spicy blood orange margaritas to wash it all down.

                                                    1. As a SoCal native, I fervently believe that rice does NOT belong in burritos (unlike the San Fran mission style). That said, burritos should include grilled meats (carne asada) OR pinto beans (not both), salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream or guac and perhaps cheese.

                                                      Haven't really found anywhere that serves just the way I know them. Uncle Moe's on 19th Street and 5th Avneue is okay. So is Big Enchilada on 13th and University(the fantastic refried beans are their saving grace). Cosmic Cantina on 3rd Ave and 12th St is good, but only if you are looking for a healthier, non-authentic burrito (i.e. wheat tortilla, black beans).

                                                      1. Would love to hear more about DOWNTOWN BAKERY. Since they are more San Diego-style, does that mean the best choice there is the fish taco?

                                                        Thanks, Taco Hounds!

                                                        1. The lady from Guerrero that has a taco stand on the corner of 116th st and 2nd Avenue in front of the Minaya Grocery. She makes the tacos fresh from scratch and cooks them up as you watch seperately just for you. She has several fillings (chicken, steak, carnita enchilada and chicharon (red and green). The tortillas are the size of dinner plates! She uses fresh cheese from Oaxaca and her homemade salsa verde has chunks of avocado in it. The last time we were there she charged $2.50 per "taco" (it seems more like a cross between a taco and a quesadilla). Everything is topped off with lettuce and crema. No cilantro, no onion. It is a different taco than the ones I am used to but it is so good and fresh.

                                                            1. re: calypsogirl

                                                              They also have a selection of dishes that change daily, for six dollars. I found out because one time they accidentally gave me the wrong order and it was even more delicious.

                                                            2. Tehuitzingo is quite good but the best tacos in manhattan, perhaps in all of nyc, are from TACO MIX on 116th between 2nd and 3rd aves. Please, anyone who has posted about the virtues of big enchilada, etc, you owe it to yourself to take the 6 train to 116th and experience the real thing - not a burrito, mission style or otherwise, to be found. Most of the store fronts you will see on 116 east of 3rd ave are commendable, but taco mix is the pick of the litter. The best tacos I've had outside mexico city.

                                                              1. I'm game for trying new places but you'd better check the Restaurant Inspections on some of these places before enjoying that Taco or Burritto...I think I just averted a bullet at Taco Mix.

                                                                There's a website called Everyblock that gave me all the detailed info.

                                                                Eye opening.

                                                                1. La Esquina Taqueria has an authentic fish taco at only $3.50......its grilled, not deep fried and wonderful.....fyi, burritos are not authentic mexican....tex mex or cali-mex people.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: hptr

                                                                    Benny's Burrito has a decent taco,, But the best ive had was on Starr St off St Nicolas, in Ridgewood,brooklyn,, in a taco factory they serve cooked food, with chickens running around in there. Its not the "cleanest' looking place but youd think you were in mexico. 6 different types of tacos. The marinated pork was my favorite.I think they were 2 for a $1

                                                                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                                                                      Taco MIX, Taco MIX, Taco MIX.
                                                                      La Esquina is ok but if you want a real taco, not one of these NorCal faux burrito disasters, it's Taco MIX.

                                                                  2. My son and I had the carnitas and carned asada tacos at Cascabel Taqueiria, they were excellent, some of the best I have ever tasted. It is between 80th and 81st on second avenue, east side of the avenue. Good selection, interesting appetizers.

                                                                    1538 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

                                                                    1. Tacombi @ Fonda Nolita in soho on elizabeth street is first real taco i have had in NYC in over 30 years!! it's the real deal!!!

                                                                      267 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: MRSIDEZ

                                                                        you know brooklyn and queens are full of real tacos right