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Hottest Taco Joint in NYC

Hi there,
I am from Toronto and am helping curate a large Canada vs USA taco throwdown in October as part of a Food Network sponsored event. I would like to know what are the top/ hottest taco joints in Manhattan to reach out to for this job. Looking forward to tasting their goods!


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  1. I don't know the hottest, but Salvation is worth checking out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      except for the horrendous lack of service. Given Salvation a second and third chance ... won't be back.

      1. Hottest? Not sure about that. But Pinche and the Tribeca Taco Truck are my faves. Salvation is very popular, but I've never been.

        1. I'm no taco expert, but if you want to do a throwdown between Canada and the US on tacos, you've come to the wrong city. Sure you can find good tacos here, but you will find better elsewhere. Try Austin or San Antonio to start. Or if you're looking at fusion version, try LA.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Bkeats

            maybe NYC was chosen so there would be some hope of competition.

            i dont usually look for "hot" (as in trendy) in my taco choices, but i think Empellon fits the bill.

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              Yeah, I'd say Empellon, Diablo Royale just around the corner and Dos Caminos would be the closest things to hot or trendy tacos, even though only Empellon is less than several years old. Dos Caminos' folks wrote a successful cookbook which includes tacos, so they'd almost have to be in the mix.

              But I agree with others that the OP is aiming pretty low by having a throwdown with NYC tacos. Mexico is part of NAFTA -- fly someone down to Mexico City and Ensenada. Even though they're a "thing" now tacos aren't really meant to be $22.95 for two of them served with a $13 margarita. They're meant to be eaten off a truck.

              1. re: nokitchen

                Well, we are hoping to have a variety of states involved, NYC being only one. But thanks, those look like good options.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  You should also be asking on the Outer Boroughs board for places like Rockaway Taco, etc.

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      Gotcha. From the description you gave downthread you'll probably also want to check out Brooklyn Taco. Made by real live hipsters, there's a taco stand in the Essex Market, which is both uber trendy AND a good deal and a pop-up location (the very definition of millennial hipsterdom) at a bar in Williamsburg. They sell locavore, artisan sustainable tee shirts. Tacos ain't half bad, either.

                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        Up to debate, but here's a list of "the best" tacos in NYC from Gothamist. http://gothamist.com/2013/07/10/the_b...

                        1. re: GoodGravy

                          Thank you all! I will def check out the Brokklyn Taco.

                  1. re: Bkeats

                    Good point. Maybe they're coming from the wrong city, too! Like Calgary and Atlanta having a coffee showdown!

                    Hungryabbey: is there much of a Mexican-Canadian population in Toronto? I know the place is amazing for ethnic diversity, and I look forward to trying it. But I was mostly thinking of Asian, Middle Eastern and other "ethnic" stuff besides Mexican.

                    1. re: Bada Bing

                      TO chowhounds have long kvetched about TO's lack of quality Mexican food, which is understandable considering TO has a very small Mexican population. Several noisy hipster taco joints run by non-Mexican Cdns have sprung up over the last 2 years.

                      1. re: prima

                        Second prima's sentiment. The group I am working for basically want that scene- hipster taco joints that are super popular with long waits and loud music. Not my personal scene, but hey, I just put these things together as asked!

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          If Chicago is another one of your cities, Big Star fits your criteria perfectly. Especially if a third, unspoken criterion,is snotty customer service!

                  2. Try Kortako, for bulgogi and kalbi fusion tacos.

                    1. Like everyone else, I'm not sure why you picked NYC for tacos, but since you did, that taco truck on Park & E47 is a good place to start when it's there. Also has a good horchata. The name might be Maria's, but I can't be sure. I just know it when I see it.

                      Other places are Tehuitzingo in Manhattan and Tacos Matamoros in Bklyn.

                      I'm interested to know which places in Toronto you're going to stack up. El Trompo and them Ecuadorian/Salvadoran joints on Bloor are OK, but they don't blow my skirt up.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: GoodGravy

                        *** Like everyone else, I'm not sure why you picked NYC for tacos... ***

                        The OP has posted similar threads in other US cities including LA, Austin, SF, San Diego and Miami.

                        1. re: MrGrumpy

                          Yes, I am trying to get a cross spread of the states.

                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            Try Houston, several areas of town have trucks on virtually every corner, and not the hipster variety. Then there are the carnecerias that sell carnitas, barbacoa, asado de puerco, beans, menudo, etc. choice of tortillas, salsas, tamales, and more.

                          2. re: MrGrumpy

                            Too bad she's not listing Minneapolis / St Paul - as there are numerous outstanding 'hot' taco joints up and down Lake Street. Mercado Central would be a great place to start.

                          3. re: GoodGravy

                            I believe you're talking about Paty's taco truck (big white truck with a huge mural painted on one side)

                            They're often parked at Park Ave & 47th. Also see them in union square and 86th and lex a fair amount. Their tacos are good, although I think their carnitas platter is better.

                          4. I'd head to Red Hook or New Haven instead of Manhattan.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: BlueSoup

                              Better off heading to Ridgewood to Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos at 271 Starr St. Ridgewood, Brooklyn. They say Bushwick but it's not Bushwick. Anyway, It's pretty popular now, but I first went there about 7 years ago. It was as if I was in Mexico. It is a tortilla factory, with a taco stand in front and a picnic table and benches to eat at. Fresh , delicious, authentic tacos. Cheap, I mean very cheap. They also had a rooster that crowed when it was lunch hour. I don't think the rooster is still around. I think it went the way of the Chinatown Fair rooster. But this is by far the best spot for tacos

                            2. Passing along response from friend Stefon:

                              "If you’re looking for a taco, look no further: New York’s hottest taco hangout is "In the Fold." Taco promoter Sven Chang has gone all out, and at the scene it’s just everything: squirt bottles with sauces every color of the rainbow; bums; Cabbage Patch Kids; tame goats in wigs and sombreros; and the buffet slider…It’s that thing where a Slippy-Slide runs along the serving area, so you can hold up your tortilla shells and slide along to discover at the end what Gabe and Dorian managed to ladle into them as you pass."

                              4 Replies
                                  1. re: Bada Bing

                                    Tortilla shell? What the hell is a tortilla shell?

                                  2. Just went to Mercadito. Definitely not going back. Service was aweful and the tacos were just OK. The only place worse is Teqa on 3rd and 31st.

                                    1. Try Lone Star Taco on Governor's Island this Saturday.

                                      My friends have been raving about Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: kathryn

                                        was recently in chelsea market and while i objected to the prices (3.5 for a taco??? i guess they gotta make rent) the operation at LTno1 looked pretty damn legit. The vertical spit with all pastor was almost enough for me to crack my wallet, but then i was already full.

                                        Good to hear (even second hand) that it tastes as good as it looks.

                                      2. Abbey - Pete here in NYC. I just ate at one of the best spots tonight and the chef is one of the hottest young new chefs in America, Alex Stupak at Empellon Cocina: http://empellon.com/cocina/restaurant... - also ate at Empellon Taqueria 2 weeks ago in the West Village - both are amazing and he is doing some very cool and tasty things. I can make a connection to the two young owners if you want - I met one of them tonight. They would be perfect for the throwdown!

                                        1. three of my favorites:

                                          - tehuitzingo in manhattan (perennial)
                                          - rockaway taco in queens (fish tacos)
                                          - mexicocina in the south bronx (current favorite)