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Cuatro Vientos taco truck @ Roosevelt/65th, Woodside

E Eto Jun 10, 2009 12:59 PM

I was thrown off for a while to the great tacos being served here, since the truck that was there for years was pretty horrible. The Cuatro Vientos truck parks on Roosevelt between 65th and 67th St after 8pm, usually in front of Gleason's Paint Supply shop. For a better reference, it's the truck just across the street from Sripraphai. Whereas the previous truck was manned by a few gregarious and welcoming guys peddling mediocre fare, the new Cuatro Vientos truck offers a more subdued experience, and is staffed by two women (and another kitchen runner). For a quiet stretch of Roosevelt Ave, people seem to appear in clumps, and for some reason, I seem to get there just when some driver comes by and orders 10 tacos and 5 tortas, making my wait longer than it should be. But that's indicative of the business.

There's the standard list of taco fillings you see at just about every other taco joint that dots Roosevelt Ave. My usual orders are the carnitas and lengua tacos, both of which are way above average. But looking at the taco menu, you come across other items you don't find on the standard NY taquería menus. Things like sobrebarriga, campechano, or pernil. And this is where I find Cuatro Vientos separates itself from the pack. Sobrebarriga seems to mean "above the belly" and refers to skirt steak. Suadero is a similar cut, and I'm not quite sure how different they are, or if they are actually the same thing, since the term sobrebarriga seems to be used more in South America than in Mexico. Nonetheless, this is a superb taco filling. I liken it to the beefy version of good carnitas. Crispy and slightly stringy, I think the meat is slow roasted, braised, or steamed beforehand and then finished with a blast of heat to create that crispness, and then grilled on the flat-top before inserting them in tortillas. Campechano is another filling I don't see often in NYC. It's the combination of beef and chorizo, and well, who wouldn't like that combination? I also wonder whether pernil and carnitas is the same thing but made for different latino groups to understand more easily. Both tasted like carnitas. I'll have to get to the bottom of that controversy. So far, I've gone through most of the tacos menu and I'm pleased to have this truck so nearby. It's my usual stop for a protein filled dinner after a night of playing sports.

Los Cuatro Vientos
Roosevelt Ave and 65th St, Queens, NY 11377

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  1. E Eto RE: E Eto Nov 13, 2009 07:06 PM

    The lengua tacos at Cuatro Vientos the other night was superb. I don't know if they've done anything different or if I just got a good batch, but it was the equal of my favorite lengua at Taquería Coatzingo. Suadero was also kick-ass. I think this is quickly becoming one of my favorite taco vendors.

    Los Cuatro Vientos
    Roosevelt Ave and 65th St, Queens, NY 11377

    1. j
      jaingmaster RE: E Eto Nov 21, 2009 10:20 AM

      I tried this truck late last night, and I think it's outstanding. I got two tacos, one lengua and one al pastor. The lengua might have been the best I've ever tasted: the meat was tender and almost buttery, and there was a nice layer of avocado and sprinkling of cilantro. The pastor was good but not in the same category as the lengua. I can't wait to explore the rest of the menu here.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jaingmaster
        E Eto RE: jaingmaster Nov 21, 2009 10:48 AM

        I wouldn't recommend getting al pastor at any of the taco trucks/carts. Unless you see a vertical spit, I don't go for al pastor. At Cuatro Vientos, get anything else. The carnitas and suadero are my other favorites there, as well as the campechano.

      2. bigjeff RE: E Eto Mar 21, 2010 08:06 PM

        went very late and they only had beef, chicken and tongue . . . the tongue was pretty damn good but I was totally going for suadero, sobrebarriga or the other funky one, campechano. all sold out! but, will hit it again. the tongue I think was steamed but, still relatively dry, I prefer my lengua asada; will hit the place again.

        4 Replies
        1. re: bigjeff
          E Eto RE: bigjeff Mar 21, 2010 08:24 PM

          Do any of the taquerias and taco carts make a lengua asada? It's usually stewed, isn't it? And maybe finished on the grill that might give it some crisp edges. Either way, I really like their lengua. The carnitas are also some of the best around Roosevelt. Interesting that they ran out of stuff. It must have been really late.

          1. re: E Eto
            bigjeff RE: E Eto Mar 22, 2010 07:26 AM

            ya I think El Poblano is one of the only places in the area that does an asada; I usually ask random vendors and usually its al vapor, occasionally asada.

            and ya, it was late . . . . . maybe 1:30 or 2am?

            El Poblano
            75-13 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

            1. re: bigjeff
              E Eto RE: bigjeff Mar 22, 2010 07:42 AM

              Actually, lengua al vapor (or steamed) is fairly uncommon. Stewing is the usual method, as it is in most other cuisines, including in most Chinese preparation that I'm aware of. I'm not so sure Cuatro Vientos steams its lengua. Since it's a fairly lean meat, and from what I remember of El Poblano's lengua, I think they also prepare it stewed or cooked some other way and keep it refrigerated before they take it out and put it on the flat top to grill up. The only form of real tongue "asada" I've had is at Korean BBQ places, and if you've noticed, you would have to cook it to medium rare/medium to keep it from getting overly chewy. The better Korean BBQ places tenderize it in some way. Now that I'm thinking about it, that sounds like a good taco idea too... Korean grilled "lengua" tacos.

              El Poblano
              75-13 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

              Los Cuatro Vientos
              Roosevelt Ave and 65th St, Queens, NY 11377

              1. re: E Eto
                bigjeff RE: E Eto Mar 29, 2010 07:07 AM

                ya, definitely not griddle from raw pieces of tongue but I'm thinking more like the pre-cooked and then chopped up and finished on a griddle, to get some crispy edges. otherwise, it is served straight from the wet liquid, like tacolandia. coatzingo's comes pretty wet too.

        2. bigjeff RE: E Eto Mar 29, 2010 07:14 AM

          had the funky three: suadero, campechano and sobrebarrigas and I gotta say . . . less than impressed. the campechano was composed of two meats; smashed chorizo patties and smaller strands of beef (think chinese-style julienned beef for a stir-fry) but despite the combo, the taco wasn't really tasty or savoury, surprisingly. and, like you mentioned, it was hard to tell the difference between the suadero and sobrebarrigas; a little internet research made me inclined to think that sobrebarrigas would be more stewed with onions or something but the two were quite similar; next time I will have to ask the lady the difference (very nice lady). but the big thing was, indeed these were two stewed/wetter meats and very different than the suadero I had at both the Sabor Mexicano cart (middle cart) near the 74th Street/Roosevelt station and the "phantom" truck which I swear, I had! This was parked on the opposite side of Roosevelt Avenue from Los Cuatros Vientos, about 2-3 blocks up and indeed, I haven't seen it since [ http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6229... ].

          but regardless, a very different filling and seemingly, different meat. again, it was hard to tell the difference between the suadero and the sobrebarrigas (I got it to go); I thought one of the fillings was a bit more savory and had a chewier texture than the other (which is a good thing) but both were definitely wet with an almost plain beefy flavor, reminding me of simple renditions of beef in pho or asian soups. not necessarily a bad thing but again, very different from the dry, almost pernil-like suadero that I've had at the Sabor Mexicano joints, and I prefer those over what I had last night. I even remember that the suadero/sobrebarrigas from Los Cuatro Vientos was put on the griddle from one of those metal food service deep square buckets, probably heated underneath, so it was definitely a stewier one, and the suadero from both the Sabor Mexicanos cart and truck was (and this might be gross) chunks of meat, poured out of a big plastic empty mayonnaise-type container (taken from a fridge unit underneath) directly onto the griddle, so that one was definitely a dry prep.

          E Eto, you gotta give 'em a try and do me a comparison, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

          Oh, and regarding the dry hot peppers that Los Cuatros Vientos had: those are so addictive! Fried hard, then bathed in salt (or maybe the other way around) these were almost like chips. very flavorful and delicious.

          8 Replies
          1. re: bigjeff
            E Eto RE: bigjeff Apr 2, 2010 01:00 PM

            I tried the suadero from Sabor Mexicano, and while it's good, I prefer the version at Cuatro Vientos. And by the way, AFAIK suadero isn't stewed or stored in liquid. The meat is steamed, and then kept cool before heating on the griddle. Exactly the same for both Sabor Mexicano and Cuatro Vientos. The difference seems to be in how long the meat is cooked. Cuatro Viento's version is more like pulled pork, as it seems to be cooked longer so the meat is "fall apart" soft, and shredded. The one at Sabor Mexicano (and many other places along Roosevelt where I've sampled suadero) seems to be cooked not as long and the meat is diced. I find many places do the same thing with carnitas as well, and for me, carnitas should never ever be diced. That being said, I did think that the suadero at Sabor Mexicano is probably their best meat offering. I didn't care for any of their other stuff (though I haven't tried the orejas there). I've tried three different Sabor Mexicano carts when I've encountered them along Roosevelt and felt pretty much the same. They seem to have trouble keeping their best cooks as I've seen "help wanted" signs on their carts more than most. Their cart that was under the tracks at 61st St is now gone (thankfully) and now there's another operation there (could be the tamale folks expanding to tacos/quesadillas).

            Also, if you find three carts in front of Roosevelt station, Gallo Giro is the only one I go for. Except I have no clue when they are there. Their schedule is so erratic, I can never count on them being there when I want some of their stuff. The carne asada tacos at Gallo Giro are perhaps the best version I've had on the east coast. Otherwise, I skip the carts in front of Roosevelt station and cross the street and get my stuff at the cart in front of the Chase bank (fka El Pasito) for some of the better carnitas and lengua (though you might find it a little too "stewy") along Roosevelt. And as for Cuatro Vientos, I find that they go to greater lengths than other taquerias around Roosevelt Ave to get better flavors from their products.

            1. re: E Eto
              bigjeff RE: E Eto Apr 2, 2010 01:49 PM

              thanks for your notes! I woulda gone with gallo giro but I was on such a suadero kick and I saw they didn't offer it; I'm usually passing through that area after 9pm on most nights and they are usually there; I will make my way through their smaller menu. the "third" cart also offered suadero, translating it as "boiled beef" in english.

              1. re: E Eto
                Intangible RE: E Eto Aug 24, 2011 07:20 PM

                cuatro vientos are now offering oreja (ear) tacos and tacos de cabeza (head). have you tried this??...very curious.

              2. re: bigjeff
                Jeffsayyes RE: bigjeff Apr 26, 2010 04:02 PM

                The Sabor Mexicano truck does exist! it wasn't a dream, BigJeff. http://www.flickr.com/photos/orlick/s...

                1. re: Jeffsayyes
                  bigjeff RE: Jeffsayyes Apr 26, 2010 04:23 PM

                  haha, nice! how was the goat? did you ever try the suadero? I gotta say, I had the quesadilla de suadero a couple times from the cart and I think I'm over it. but, it was damn good while my suadero kick lasted. if anything, I'm really enjoying those fried red chilis, so good and they even taste herbal/medicinal, like they are ginseng flavored.

                  1. re: bigjeff
                    Jeffsayyes RE: bigjeff Apr 27, 2010 09:07 AM

                    gamey. pretty good. my fav cart is still cuatro. but i bet there's more in corona...

                  2. re: Jeffsayyes
                    2slices RE: Jeffsayyes May 13, 2010 12:10 PM

                    just had lunch there today. Very good stuff, a nice change from coatzingo. The following huge lunch was really goood.

                    Gordita Chicharron
                    Carne Asada taco
                    Carne enchilada taco

                    3 guys next to me all ordered enchiladas which looked fantastic, one I heard ordered suadero. Defintitely next on my list to try there.

                    1. re: 2slices
                      bigjeff RE: 2slices May 14, 2010 08:39 AM

                      this is from the cart, the truck, or the storefront?

                2. lambretta76 RE: E Eto Sep 28, 2011 03:29 PM

                  Does anyone know if Los Cuatro Vientos still sets up shop around 8 pm in the evening?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lambretta76
                    E Eto RE: lambretta76 Sep 28, 2011 07:30 PM

                    They usually don't open until 9pm or thereabouts.

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