HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Sembrado - great tacos in the East Village

Finally, delicious tacos in the East Village. Sembrado's specialty is tacos al pastor DF (Mexico City) style. The pork cooked is on a spit (like shwarma) and served with grilled pineapple. They make their own tortillas, which are small but very good. My only criticism is that I would prefer 2 tortillas per taco, but better to have 1 delicious tortilla than 2 of the sub-par kind you normally find in NYC. There are many other types of taco to explore on the menu, but I've been taking advantage of their happy hour ($2.50 for a taco al pastor and $8 for a great mezcal margarita). They have a big selection of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer. Everyone who works there seems to take great pride in the place and I wish them well - god knows we need decent Mexican food. They're tucked away in a pleasant space on 13th St. near Avenue A.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Wow those look great! Thanks for the heads up.

    1. You had me at homemade tortilla.....

        1. Have you been to Los Tacos No. 1? I believe they make their own tortillas as well.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kathryn

            Not yet, Kathryn. I'm thrilled there is something so delicious in my own neighborhood. I lived in LA for years, and will miss the local taco truck forever. Sembrado is far more high end, with a fine selection of mezcal and tequila, but such a welcome addition to the East Village.

          2. Nice, that looks great!

            1. Thanks for posting. They will see us on a taco visit soon. Fonda, nearby on Avenue B, also has good tacos al pastor. Very good guacamole too, and a good hibiscus margarita at happy hour.

              1. l tried the al pastor a couple of weeks ago, but wasn't that impressed, and was kind of annoyed that they don't give you two tortillas. What very much impressed me, tho, were the mushroom tacos and fish tacos: l thought these were really good, much better than the al pastor. Sembrado has the same owners as Hecho en Dumbo, right? l love that place.

                l really dig the tacos al pastor from the Morelos cart on A and 2nd. The night grill guy told me that the al pastor filling comes off el trompo in the main location's kitchen in Queens. And speaking of Morelos, they have a new restaurant on 9th between 1st and A: has anyone tried it yet?

                1. thanks for posting this -- i tried it and liked it a lot...while i agree w/ howdini that the al pastor tacos were just ok, i liked both the fish and shrimp ones very much -- i wish they had a happy hr special on those as well...and the hot sauces work...

                  I'll be back in any case...i think it's an esp cute spot for a casual drinks/snack date...

                  1. Thanks for the report! Their al pastor looks very similar to the adobada at Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market (and very much like some of the best al pastor tacos in LA).

                    I actually prefer having one pliable, thick and fresh corn tortilla as opposed to double layer. That's just how my favorite taco trucks and taquerias in LA made them growing up... I definitely will have to try this place though!

                    1. I wouldn't go all the way to great on this place. It's good. I liked two of the four sauces served with the tacos. I thought the shrimp taco had a pleasant, smoky flavor, and the pineapple in it actually worked (I usually don't like fruit in otherwise savory dishes). My cactus taco was fine, but dull; a little cilantro or a couple of radish slices would improve it. The mezcal margarita was super-sweet and nearly devoid of mezcal, and I very much regretted not ordering a michelada instead. The staff is very nice. But I don't think Sembrado measures up to the Taco Moreles cart, or Taqueria, at least as far as the vegetarian tacos go.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: small h

                        The Morelos cart veggie tacos are massive, too.

                        1. re: howdini

                          Yes, and full of stuff, which makes them especially challenging to eat while walking. Excellent for improving your hand/mouth coordination.

                          1. re: small h

                            Ha! l can't even imagine trying to walk and eat one at the same time: l either chow down on the metal shelf of the cart, or bring them back to eat at my place a couple of blocks away.

                      2. interesting will def have to try, al pastor are my favorite type of tacos if you get them right (although i think its kinda hard bc most people screw them up, usually too dry)

                        1. I had some tacos here the other night. They run a happy hour special until 7pm- $2 for the al pastor tacos. Forgot what time the HH starts though...

                          Anyway, these are minis- pretty much the same size as the small sized ones at say Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park. They usually cost $4. I think $2 is about right for location, size, and quality. Not great but not bad at all. The sauces are good and I prefer single tortilla- especially with a mini....Homemade chorizo was really salty, but not too bad with a couple squeezes of lime and certainly washed down nicely by an excellent michelada.

                          1. I have to check out Sembrado real soon. As far as good guacamole goes, I had great guacamole at Tortaria on University Pl. made fresh , right in front of you.