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Oct 22, 2008 11:14 AM

Poll: Best Mexican Food in NYC?

Just good, authentic, really good Mexican. I don't care whether it's a taco truck or a fine dining experience. Just tell me!

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    1. The search for good mexican food in Manhattan is like searching for a nopale thorn in a haystack. There seems to be a proliferation of "Mexican" food in New York, but most of it is not very good. I've only recently returned to New York and have started my search for a dependable place anew, but most runs from mediocre to something that makes the poor chef call his mother in Puebla, weeping apologies.

      Your best best may be trying the ball fields out in Red Hook on a weekend, which are suppose to have an array of Mexican and Central American cart foods. I'm really upset I haven't made it out there yet to speak on its offerings.

      I've tried a few places though, and can offer a few leads:
      -My current, uncomplicated favorite may be a taco truck on 14th and 8th called Taco El Idolo. The guy working there was exceedingly nice(the most obvious sign of authentic Mexican food), despite at first telling me they had "pork." When I began to ask about the style of pork on offer he knew I was conversant and served me a very tasty carnitas torta. The al pastor was less impressive (it sadly had pineapple chunks, but they were minimal). I'd like to go back as my 5 bucks got me a nice torta with a healthy (in amount, anyway) layer of avocado. The place had a liquid achilles heal, however; there was a severe salsa deficiency (both in variety and flavor).
      -Calexico, the taco cart in Soho, recently won the Vendy award for best food cart. Haven't tried it but the pictures made it look delicious, and I've heard very good things.
      -There is supposed to be a supermarket on 9th or 10th ave in midtown with a back counter that runs counter to typical mexi-mediocrity. I'm too lazy to fish around for the name right now but it's something tongue-twisting if I remember correctly. Hopefully they twist some tongue into a good lengua taco, but I haven't had the pleasure.
      (I looked it up, Tulcingo Del Valle on 10th is what I was thinking, menu looks great)
      -Tried "Pinche Taco" recently despite the ridiculous name. Would you name a place "Fuckin' Hamburger?" I thought it was all right, better than average for Manhattan, and predictably overpriced.
      -It was some time ago but I sampled Florencia 13 on Sullivan, which adverstises itself as Cal-Mex. I like the idea better than the food. The items were familiar names to those who grew up on California Mexican (Chile Verde could be my favorite thing in the world) but the taste didn't match the description. Very good Margaritia's however.
      -I've had a few people tell me that Mexicana Mama in the West Village is actually good. I struggle to believe this, but one never knows. Any place that decorates that heavily with garish paint and Virgin Mary statues seems to be overcompensating, and the food typically needs Our Lady's divine intervention.
      -"Hell's Kitchen," while obviously trying for something more high end and Mexican inspired than mexican per se, was terrible the time I ate there. Less than inspired, it was insipid. My mole was flavorless and my chicken dry and cottony. Maybe it was an off night... but Oaxaca it was not.
      -I tried some place in Meatpacking, want to say "Los Dados." Not good.

      Hope that helps, happy hunting.

      6 Replies
      1. re: TarquinWinot

        Skip Mexicana Mama -- overpriced and mediocre food, in a crowded setting with awful service. Probably the best Mexican experience I had in Manhattan was the torta al pastor at Tulcingo del Valle (10th Ave at 47th St) with fresh avocado substituted for guacamole. Calexico cart is also worth checking out.

        1. re: a_and_w

          I just updated my post as you were typing. Tulcingo Del Valle was the place I was trying to think of. If a torta al pastor is your go to order then I trust your taste and look forward to trying your recommendation sometime soon.

          Does Tulcingo put chopped up bits of pineapple in their al pastor? (asking in fear) I prefer it without.

          1. re: TarquinWinot

            To clarify, the supermarket with the taco counter in back is Tehuitzingo. Others swear by it, but I always preferred Tulcingo, which is an actual restaurant down the street.

            Tulcingo's al pastor is without pineapple. It's from a spit -- or used to be. Not the best I've ever tasted, but something about the overall sandwich really scratches the itch.

            1. re: a_and_w

              Thanks for the clarification, I was mixing up my things starting with "T" and ending in "ingo." I'm big into al pastor off the spit so I'll keep my fingers crossed and hopefully report back soon.

        2. re: TarquinWinot

          "supermarket on 9th or 10th ave in midtown with a back counter "

          Are you sure you weren't thinking of Tehuitzingo? 10th betw. 47th & 48th, a block north of Tulcingo Del Valle.

          1. re: JoanN

            Maybe. That's more tongue-twisting (for those of us with bad spanish) isn't it. I haven't been to either. If they're so close I'd be interested to hear how (or if) they compare.

        3. I just went to La Palapa on St. Marks this past weekend and had a great meal and amazing sangria. It was not ridiculously priced either. Another good one is Dos Caminos. I know it is not "authentic" but it is good Mexican, good drinks and can be a fun night out.

          1. I like Cafe El Portal in Soho on Elizabeth- homey mexican for a decent price...though the guacamole serving could be a little bigger, we went through like 3 of them!

            1. I think El Paso Taqueria (Lex/104) is terrific -- it's (sort of ) in the neighborhood and comes the closest to filling the cheese-enchilada-shaped hole in my heart since I moved here from Arizona 10 years ago. But I still haven't found true love.