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The State of the Taco in White Plains

adamclyde Dec 10, 2007 12:34 PM

OK, so I got an interesting call a week or so ago asking if I wanted to guest column something for Westchester Magazine's EATER column/blog. I suggested doing a round up of taquerias in white plains and they, surprisingly agreed. You can read it here: http://westchestermagazine.com/ME2/di...

In short, my new favorite places for tacos in White Plains are (in order) are: Sunshine Deli (Lake St) and Mexico Lindo (Post Rd). I was tipped off to the former place by a posting here on chowhound a few months ago... it just took me a while to follow up! So thanks folks for all the collective posts over the years.

The Eater doesn't allow comments... and since chowhound is my real home, I thought I'd link to it for your reaction. Anyone have any different suggestions for great tacos in White Plains?

In doing this, I was reminded yet again how much finding a great taco around here is like shooting at a fast moving target. The tacos at one place could be drastically different day to day. Frustratingly so. But sunshine deli and mexico lindo were quite good each time I went. Plus the al pastor tacos were very good (now if only I could predict when the al pastor spits ran, I could time my lunch accordingly).

Anyhow, the good news is that good tacos can be find in White Plains. If I'm bringing my wife along, I'll still be going to Port Chester or New Rochelle, where you can get a broader variety of good dishes in a setting not quite so starkly hole in the wall-esque, but white plains isn't a mexican wasteland at least...

  1. l
    laylag Dec 10, 2007 03:43 PM

    Great info adam. I'll have to check those places out - especially Sunshine and Lindo for the al pastor. I haven't tried any lengua tacos, always been skittish although I do eat Jewish deli tongue - guess it depends on what is part of the culture you were raised in - but your description of the ones in Mexico Lindo may just give me the chutzpah/cojones to try them out.

    1. JMF Dec 11, 2007 03:33 AM

      How about the place on South Kensico near Lake St? They have some pretty good food, but I haven't had their tacos.

      On a side note: Westchester Magazines reviews aren't actually paid ads?

      8 Replies
      1. re: JMF
        adamclyde Dec 11, 2007 04:24 AM

        Hey JMF. That place is La Nueva Puebla.

        There were two places that I ate at that I didn't include. La Puebla Nueva and Mariachi Loco.

        The problem with La Puebla wasn't that it was bad (the case with a lot at mariachi loco), it was just that none of their tacos were better than what I could get anywhere else. All were fairly mediocre. I've probably eaten there more than any other place since I've been going there now for 5 + years. But in all my recent visits, I haven't had a memorable taco. The decor is more inviting than some of the places I tried, but the tacos themselves just seemed very lacking. My other beef with the place is that I don't think it really knows how to be a mexican restaurant. I get the impression it's mexican from a dominican lens. It is, afterall, a Mexican-Carribean place.

        But, if I went today, I may just have the best tacos of the bunch... frustrating!

        About the paid ad thing... I can't say. they certainly didn't offer any guidance to this Eater thing. Nor, I don't think, did they to the article the reporter had interviewed me for back in August. But this kind of thing probably flies under their radar.

        1. re: JMF
          j
          J. Sexton Dec 11, 2007 08:25 AM

          No--the reviews are not paid ads. In fact, Westchester Magazine runs lots of seriously critical reviews (like Marge Perry's review of the Flying Pig appearing in this month's issue, and my own fairly negative reviews of Emily Shaw's Inn at Pound Ridge, Asian Temptation, Turquoise, etc., etc., essentially ad nauseam.) In fact, the magazine has withstood many attempts by restaurant owners to influence editorial content by pulling ads after negative reviews (or threatening to pull them--until they realized that they'd lose business), nasty letter campaigns, etc. No dice --the magazine supports their writer's negative findings.

          Having written for a several local papers, I've found that Westchester Magazine is one of the few local media outlets that actually DOES offer real reviews. A review doesn't mean calling up a new restaurant, announcing that you'll be writing a piece about them, and scrounging a free tasting/interview in exchange for media exposure. (Which is how 95% of the other county "reviews" happen.) It means multiple, totally anonymous visits (the high costs borne by the magazine -- not the writer), and the liberty for writers to openly discuss their findings--both positive and negative. In fact, speaking of local food writing, I can think of only two media outlets that offer their readers this service--the NYTimes Regional Section and Westchester Magazine.

          So, JMF--you should check out the mag again.

          1. re: J. Sexton
            k
            KarenNYC Dec 11, 2007 04:55 PM

            I fully agree that a decent taco is hard to come by. the big question is what do you look for in a taco? is your favorite taco based on the shell (hard or soft), meat (ground or sliced), toppings????

            1. re: KarenNYC
              adamclyde Dec 12, 2007 05:50 AM

              It's the whole thing. Though for this I didn't really pay much attention to the salsa. I focused more on the filling.

              I don't know that I've ever had a ground beef taco at a mexican restaurant. Ever. I could very well be mistaken, but the only ground beef concoction I've ever really had with real mexican food is picadillo, which is usually reserved for chile rellenos.

              Nor have I ever had a hard-shell taco. There are some places that will deep fry their tortillas (Tacos dorado) but that is a different thing altogether. Cancun and mexico lindo sell tacos dorado, I believe. But the far more common taco in mexico is simply a good corn tortilla, soft and fresh. All of these places did just fine with the tortilla. If any had screwed that up, I wouldn't have been able to even try the rest.

              Anyhow, hope that clarifies and hope one of these places has a taco you enjoy!

              - Adam

              1. re: adamclyde
                southlake Dec 12, 2007 06:11 AM

                you must take your behind to el mexicano restaurant in norwalk...............22 wall st.........little hole in the wall.......undiscovered gem, if you will..............the mexican food is more authentic than "in mexico".........

                1. re: southlake
                  m
                  mrgaga Dec 12, 2007 08:54 AM

                  I am completely hooked on the fish tacos at Sunset Grille... I think they are superb!

                  1. re: mrgaga
                    adamclyde Dec 12, 2007 09:42 AM

                    What are they like? Grilled or deep fried? I'm hoping (praying) for the latter.

                    1. re: adamclyde
                      s
                      sallyposs Dec 12, 2007 07:52 PM

                      I love Sunset Grille's Fish Taco's too! They are fried.

        2. adamclyde Dec 12, 2007 09:49 AM

          OK, so I promise to stop belaboring the point, but I just have to talk about this...

          I'm totally in love with Sunshine Deli. I mean, totally in love.

          I went there for lunch again today to try out the huitlacoche quesadilla. And there, in front of me is a tray of pork in a deep red chile sauce, wrapped in banana leaves... cochinita pibil. I couldn't believe it. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but I haven't seen that ANYWHERE out here. So I ordered (with a friend) two cochinita pibil tacos, two al pastor tacos and a quesadilla with huitlacoche. Amazing. All of it.

          If you haven't had a huitlacoche quesadilla, you really need to try it. Sunshine does theres the best way - with fresh masa, inside which they fill with the cheese (either quesillo or oaxacan, I wasn't sure), corn and huitlacoche (the black mushroom-y fungus that grows on corn). Then the fry the thing, top with crema, lettuce and avocado. The result is this slightly crisp quesadilla from which this amazing ink-black huitlacoche and cheese. Man, I'm in love.

          And the al pastor... fresh from the spit, with cubed pineapple.

          And the cochinita pibil tacos... they fry the tortillas lightly in the red oil from the pibil. Awesome.

          Sorry for being a broken record. I am just excited and chowhound is my outlet.

          I'll stop now.

          8 Replies
          1. re: adamclyde
            chowdom Dec 12, 2007 10:00 AM

            Adamclyde I ordered an al pastor taco from Mexico Lindo yesterday for lunch, it had small pieces of pork in a dark red sauce with a cold pineapple slice on top, it didn't sound like your description.

            1. re: chowdom
              chowdom Dec 12, 2007 10:37 AM

              I'm not complaining it was very good, I just want to know if it was an al pastor taco!

              1. re: chowdom
                adamclyde Dec 12, 2007 10:39 AM

                bummer. What you had sounds right, with the exception of the cold pineapple. Al pastor, done right is spit roasted, then carved off the spit with the pineapple. The problem with places around here is that they don't get enough turnover so the spit actually starts to over cook the meat. So they take the whole thing off, then when someone orders, carve it off the spit.

                IF don't right, that can still be good. Not as good, but it can still be good. But the cold pineapple makes me think they were cheating with that... just cutting off the meat from the spit, heating it up, and carving a cold pineapple with it. sort of defeats the purpose.

                How was it anyway?

                I had the al pastor from sunshine deli today. Very, very good, btw...

                1. re: adamclyde
                  chowdom Dec 12, 2007 10:42 AM

                  Thank you, I just wasn't sure about the dark red sauce, I didn't think you mentioned that when discussing an al pastor taco. I will most certainly try them again, my office is around the corner on Grand.

                  1. re: adamclyde
                    Cheese Boy Dec 12, 2007 10:43 PM

                    Adam, isn't the pineapple usually proudly displayed and kept warm atop the meat that's cooking on the spit? It looks like a corona or a "crown" way up there on a vertical spit. That pineapple is so delicious when served *hot* !!! ... I wouldn't want it any other way.

                    1. re: Cheese Boy
                      adamclyde Dec 13, 2007 03:52 AM

                      yeah, that's how they are supposed to be. But in both Mexico Lindo and Sunshine Deli, you can't see the spit at all - it's in the back.

                      That said, once the meat is cooked and they take the meat of the spit (again, because they don't have good turnover), they probably take the pineapple off. Or, they just cook the pineapple separately. Not sure, frankly.

                      1. re: adamclyde
                        Wizzapizza Dec 13, 2007 06:34 AM

                        On your advice, I went to Mexico Lindo on Tuesday and got two Tacos al Pastor. Yesterday, I got three. Today...

                        Thanks for the leads, I'm trying Sunshine next!

                        1. re: Wizzapizza
                          adamclyde Dec 13, 2007 07:17 AM

                          When you go, let me know if Sunshine still has cochinita pibil (look in the steam trays, it will be the one with the banana leaves at the bottom).

                          I want to know if it is a regular item or just a once a week kind of thing.

              2. p
                pabboy Dec 21, 2007 06:58 AM

                I hit Sunshine last night and had the some of the best bistek tacos ever. Unfortunately their spicy pork tacos were not up to par. I'll try the al pastor next time. For spicy pork I usually go to California Tex-Mex (ignore the "California Tex" in the name because there's nothing Cali or Tex about it) on Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford.

                5 Replies
                1. re: pabboy
                  adamclyde Dec 21, 2007 07:48 AM

                  is the spicy pork adobado? I haven't tried those. Al pastor is good, and, if they have it, ask for the cochinita pibil tacos. They are awesome too.

                  1. re: adamclyde
                    p
                    pabboy Dec 21, 2007 04:48 PM

                    I think she said something carnitas then realized my Spanish is as good as useless. So she said spicy pork. It's strips of pork that's got a bit of reddish color to it. If it wasn't so dry it might've been decent.

                    1. re: pabboy
                      adamclyde Dec 22, 2007 06:29 AM

                      actually, it sounds like al pastor. if the spit has stopped running it can get dry. But I've actually never had them dry there.

                      1. re: adamclyde
                        m
                        MasterofLightChick Jan 9, 2008 01:40 PM

                        Adam, I asked you about White Plains places in another post and here is all the information! Being that you are an L.A. transplant yourself, are there any places in the region here similar to Casa Vega in Sherman Oaks? Sounds like Sunset Grill is more of a sit down place?

                        1. re: MasterofLightChick
                          adamclyde Jan 9, 2008 02:19 PM

                          I don't know casa vega, unfortunately. But if you are looking for a nicer sit down, I think this is an area where there aren't a lot of good options, frankly, with the exception of Sunset Grill, probably.

                          I say probably, because I still haven't eaten there, so I can't confirm. But folks seem to like it, they certainly strive for authenticity and they are a nice sit down kind of place. I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether I should go there... I just always end up at the taquerias to get my fix.

                          Here's their website: http://www.sunsetgrilleny.com/

                          Good luck!

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