I hadn't planned on doing a Queens taco post for this week until I walked past Taqueria Tulcingo and saw it decked out for Mexican Independence Day. I had to go in. The ceiling from front to back is filled with red and white papel picado decorations, depicting famous heroes of the Mexican Revolution. The mirrors were covered in red, white, and green crepe paper. The small space was just bursting with color and national pride. Today, September 16, 2010, marks the bicentennial of Mexican independence, and what better way to celebrate than with some tacos?
I ordered 3 tacos ($2 each) and a tostada ($2.25), and maybe I was just blinded by the decorations, but my food seemed to be decorated for the holiday as well.
My tostada de tinga (above) was bursting with red, white, and green. (If only the pictures did it justice). The juicy tomato-and-chipotle stewed red chicken was topped with bright green romaine lettuce and lots of white crema and queso cotija. A thick layer of black beans were smeared onto the crisp, fried tortilla.
The tacos, from left to right: suadero, chorizo, and al carbon, followed the same theme. The suadero, filled with bits of meat, caramelized onions, and even some crunchy pieces of ear, was festively topped with chopped onions, tomatoes, and strips of green lettuce. Not your normal taco toppings, I'd like to think it was for the colors of the flag.
I made my own flag by adding the green salsa to the red chorizo, already speckled with white onions and cilantro. The chorizo used is the kind that doesn't crumble, it's more like a hot dog in consistency, and garlicky in flavor.
The taco al carbon, grilled steak, was the least interesting, and also the least attractive. Chopped meat, a squeeze of lime, some cilantro and onion, the meat was a little tough.
The red sauce, a spicy, thin salsa made with tomatoes and most likely chile de arbol made everything better though.
My favorite thing about tacos, that not every place offers, are the patriotic sides: sliced radish, grilled onion, charred jalapeño, and griddled nopales. You've got it all there: the colors of the flag, and the best way to modify your tacos, using proudly Mexican ingredients. Not enough fresh crunch to your taco? Have a bite of radish. Feel like something sweet and soft? Have a little caramelized onion. Not spicy enough for you? A bite of jalapeño will fix that. And nopales (cactus paddles) are uniquely Mexican, and full of vitamins. Today is Taco Thursday, and Independence Day, much more important than 5 de Mayo. Go out and eat some tacos!
40-10 83rd Street, Elmhurst NY 11373 (map)