This week we go back to Staten Island, where I've been exploring Victory Boulevard in the next few Staten Island trips, searching for the best tacos. El Gallo Azteca was the first stop, and all I can say is it's going to be tough to beat. While I only had two types of tacos—their famous lengua taco, and a taco al pastor—I was able to see the beauty of how, sometimes, a few simple ingredients can become so much more. Corn tortilla, meat, onion and cilantro. A squeeze of lime, a splash of salsa. Not much to it, so it seems—but a good taco is magical.
The lengua, ($3.00) sliced in thin rounds, was unbelievably tender and meaty, tasting like a great slow-braised cut of beef but softer. The warm tortillas, the tender meat, the crunchy onion, the fresh cilantro, and some spoonfuls of spicy salsa combined to make each bite more enjoyable than the last. Every ingredient was important, and every ingredient was as simple as it could be. It was a taco that I was sad to finish. But the next taco was almost as good.
The reason that this taco al pastor ($2.00) was special is that the spiced pork meat was chopped in very small pieces: some of those were caramelized, dark, and crunchy; some were soft and spicy. Although I didn't see any pineapple, there was a definite layer of sweetness as well as salt and spice from the marinade. These are not small tacos, and two of them can be a whole meal. But again, I was sad to see the end.
If El Gallo Azteca is any indication of what Victory Boulevard has in store, than we are in for some tasty Taco Thursdays.
Taqueria El Gallo Azteca
75 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island NY 10301 (map)