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Searching for decent tacos in Manhattan

I live in Chelsea, I've been to the taco truck on 14th St and 8th Ave, and frankly, their tortillas SUCK. And they give you old-ass limes. I lived in southern California for a short time, and unfortunately it has made me a taco snob. I trekked down to Soho for La Esquina, and the scene was lame, and again, the tortillas didn't have that soft, toothsome texture of a fresh tortilla. The Tehuitzingo deli in Hell's Kitchen was almost there, but still, sub par tortillas. I'm starting to lose hope. Are there any places in this godforsaken cityin which I can satisfy my craving?

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La Esquina
106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. Taco Mix on 116th St.

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    Taco Mix
    234 E 116th St, New York, NY 10029

    1 Reply
    1. re: gutsofsteel

      Taco Mix is the one gets my vote even though I have trouble ordering. Hell, whatever they give me is always good! I never tried the one on the corner but I will do so.

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      Taco Mix
      234 E 116th St, New York, NY 10029

    2. Also on the corner of 117th & 1st Ave., there is a restaurant that just changed names - it was called Casa de los Tacos, but I can't remember what the new name is. The tacos are good - looks like it was just a name change, not a change in staff or ownership. I was there less than 2 weeks ago and enjoyed it.

      1. What about checking the Sunday taco tables/trucks right in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe on 14th bet. 8th and 9th and the food sold inside the church? I don't have expertise for quality - and certainly it is cheap and transported so maybe not truly superb. The tastes may be authenitic though. . I love the scene, the people of all ages gathering and making a place for themselves - including food .

        7 Replies
        1. re: yebo

          On decent-weather days. there are many taco, etc vendors with carts on E. 116th St.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            From my experience, its difficult to find tacos in Manhattan. But I have not spent a significant amount of time uptown. Still, decent tacos are abundant in Queens and my area of the Bronx.

            http://turntableskillets.wordpress.com

            1. re: NewYorkNewHaven

              It is not difficult - but obviously it makes sense to do the looking in a latino neighborhood....so head uptown...

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                The title of the post is "in Manhattan." I have no interest in trekking out to Queens or the Bronx. Not only do I value personal safety, but I'd like to limit the amount of time it takes me to get a taco to under an hour, round trip.

                JK about the personal safety, btw. Please don't jump down my throat, guys!

                1. re: babydoctor

                  Still ... isn't it kind of nice how many people have tried to help you?

                  1. re: babydoctor

                    babydoctor, 116th St. is in Manhattan, it is close to the subway, and the street is almost always busy with people.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      As Guts said, 116th is in Manhattan and easy to get to. I know you were sort of joking about safety but you really have nothing to fear, it is perfectly safe there. I know I traveled to a lot worse neighbourhoods in search of tacos in California.

          2. cascabel on 8oth st and 2nd ave

            7 Replies
            1. re: thew

              I like Cascabel a lot. But it's kind of a fancified taco place.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                they are good tacos, which is what the OP asked about. i hate recommending the place, because it's hard enough to get a table as is

                1. re: thew

                  I'm from SoCal and really enjoy Cascabel a lot, even if it's far from a nostalgic taco experience.

                  The OP seems fixated on the tortillas, which leads me to suggest they should really do the trip out to Nixtamal. But then there's no shortage of places in Queens/Brooklyn to go to.

                  For what it's worth I slightly prefer Tulcingo del Valle to Tehuitzingo a few doors down, but I think they're pretty comparable. Might be worth a shot.

                  I agree with gutsofsteel in really disliking Mercadito.

                  If you want soft corn tortillas I'd strongly advise against Florencia 13, but it does the So Cal style hard tacos alright. And their margaritas are very good. It kind of a vato-themed restaurant/bar.

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                  Tehuitzingo
                  695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                  Tulcingo del Valle
                  665 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036

                  Florencia 13
                  185 Sullivan St, New York, NY 10012

                  1. re: thew

                    I was born and raised in So Cal, and I'm afraid I must differ with you on Cascabel. Their tacos are kind of tasteless and their salsas not nearly spicy enough. It's a shame because I live just around the corner and the space is cute.

                    The only good Mexican food I've found in the city thus far is Hecho en Dumbo on Bowery. Their cochinita pibil is to die for.

                    Sigh, I love New York but I miss the Mexican markets where one can buy 100 still-warm tortillas for $2.

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                    Hecho en Dumbo
                    354 Bowery, New York, NY 10012

                    1. re: teach

                      i agree about the salsas

                      i like the taco truck on 60th and 3rd - but i rarely am there during weekdays

                      1. re: teach

                        I think I implied they weren't anything like you'd get in So Cal, but that I enjoyed them in spite of that. At least that's what I meant to get across. Maybe I've gotten used to nothing in NYC being spicy enough.

                        1. re: Mr Porkchop

                          I think it probably depends on what you get there also. The chicken is pretty blend but the lengua is pretty good. One of their salsas is adequate on a spice level but nothing will really blow you away.

                          To the original poster, the best I have had are up around 116th street. Taco mix is one but there are others up there that I have wandered into that were good too.
                          You can be there from Union Square in about 20 minutes. I lived in Southern California for a few years and these are just as good as some of the authentic taquerias there.

                          There are also places in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn that are good.

                2. Either Mercadito or Mercadito Cantina on Ave B. All you can eat tacos Monday & Tuesday as well as any night after 10pm at the Cantina. Service is a bit better at the restaurant but the cantina across the street is open a bit later. The Endless Summer taco truck on Bedford Ave. in W-Burg isn't bad either. Usually parked around North 5th.

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                  Mercadito Cantina
                  172 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Pedr0

                    I can't stand those little pseudo tacos at Mercadito.

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      Pseudo? How's that? Lot of tacos I've had in both LA and Mexico are the same size.

                      The Vegetariano ones with huitlacoche are stellar btw.

                      1. re: Pedr0

                        They're so sweet and almost silly tasting, in my opinion.

                  2. La Esquina is the best I've found, but I actually discovered a new place on Elizabeth Street called Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. Pretty good.

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                    La Esquina
                    106 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

                    Tacombi
                    267 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: loratliff

                      How were the tortillas? I'd assume very fresh given that it's run by a guy from Tortilleria Nixtamal.

                      1. re: kathryn

                        I just tried them over the weekend and didn't much care for the tortillas. I thought mine were wheat, are they corn? In general their flavorings were very clean which spoke to the quality of the meat, but also drew attention to the dryness of my pork. The beef was supposedly better.

                        The whole ticket and taco truck theme is also extremely gimmicky. I can't imagine why they would want to create lines inside a sitdown restaurant.

                        1. re: JungMann

                          Perhaps they think that more people can be turned over (quicker) with that approach.

                        2. re: kathryn

                          I thought the tortillas were very good–at least the most authentic I've had. They are corn, but they are the true stone ground corn tortillas, made with thicker masa. Basically, they're the kind of tortillas that I've only ever had in Mexico and south Texas.

                          And to disagree with JungMann, the pork was fantastic the day I went. Easily my favorite. No problem with the ticket/taco truck theme either.

                        3. re: loratliff

                          A brief shout-out to La Esquina for the fine Hongo y Epazote taco I had there yesterday. It was delicious, and a pretty substantial $3.25 snack, with hominy and a cheesy sauce giving it some heft and sloppiness. The tortilla was as good as those I had at Nixtamal (maybe that's where they're from). The only drawback was the mushrooms, which were shiitakes. Nothing against shiitakes, but they are too delicate-tasting to hold their own against the other ingredients. Portabellos, or even the lowly white mushroom, would be a wiser choice.

                          And for anyone looking for a place to feed the kids some tacos, the place was lousy with rug rats. They seemed very happy.

                        4. I love the ones at Dos Toros Taqueria on 4th Ave near Union Square. They are California-style (though I've never lived there so I can't vouch for authenticity)- but I can say everything I've had there has been very fresh and delicious.

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                          Dos Toros
                          137 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: brighton312

                            Dos Toros does have pretty tasty tacos--although I'm pretty sure their hot sauce is Sriracha. At any rate, they're cheaper than a flight to LA.

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                            Dos Toros
                            137 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                            1. re: teach

                              Dos Toros is good, but they definitely don't remind me of any of the tacos I ate when I lived in Orange County....

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                              Dos Toros
                              137 4th Ave, New York, NY 10003

                              1. re: teach

                                Their hot sauce is actually made in house (I asked.) Same goes for their other sauces and pico de gallo. That gives them a couple extra points in my book, given the proliferation of Sriracha around town.

                            2. I think the taco truck on 96th street and Broadway is pretty good. Tacqueria y Fonda on Amsterdam between 107th and 108th is decent, if a little pricey.

                              http://foodtourists.blogspot.com/

                              1. While we're on the topic, anyone know of a truck/restaurant that serves FLOUR taco tortillas? I know corn is more authentic (I'm from AZ and have had my fair share of amazing Mexican food), but I can't digest corn. When the Mexicue truck started out a month or so ago, they used flour tortillas but have since moved on to corn. Their tacos and sliders are awesome, btw. You can follow them on twitter to find their location.

                                1. Can't claim to be anything approaching an authority on Mexican (my Australian tastebuds just aren't tuned to it), but my wife swears by the tacos at La Lucha, on Ave A - she reckons they are about the only mexican that tastes like what she eats when she used to go around to mexican friends' places (@teach - though that was before Hencho en Dumbo, which also rated pretty highly)

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                                  La Lucha
                                  147 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

                                  1. I have enjoyed the Tacos i have had at Taqueria y Fonda (especially the tongue and the tripe). However i don't have a lot to compare it to. What are peoples thoughts on the place?

                                    1. I didnt see snack dragon mentioned here. Curious to hear what people think. I get it probably too often, since its on my corner. Im happy w it, big tacos, good springy corn tortillas, cool staff, hole in the wall.

                                      3 Replies
                                        1. re: gutsofsteel

                                          The one I go to is on 3rd/B, there is a new one in LES, on stanton and something, never been.

                                          1. re: Hey19

                                            The LES branch (164 Orchard St.) has a picnic table out front, and it's closer to my house, so naturally I like it better than the E. 3rd St. branch. I like their fish tacos very much, but the tortillas fall apart too easily.

                                      1. Check out "El Ranchito del Agave" or "Tacombi"

                                        www.thelunchbelle.com

                                        1. pinche taqueria for fish taco and braised pork taco. best fish taco ever had, braised pork is very good too.