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Searching for great tacos around the five boroughs with Sara Markel-Gonzalez.

Taco of the Week: Tacos de Birria, Coatzingo Restaurant, Queens

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[Photo: Sara Markel-Gonzalez]

Searching for a kind of taco that I have not yet covered in my weekly taco posts, when I saw tacos de birria de res on the menu at Coatzingo on 82nd Street in Elmhurst, Queens, I knew it would be my next stop. Birria is slow-braised meat, and res is beef, specifying the type of meat, which could be goat, mutton, or whatever protein is handy.

The birria taco at Coatzingo was full of fall-apart-tender chunks of the beef, and was topped with onions and cilantro; I added salsa roja—thin and very spicy, but lacking any other flavor. That said, the meat was flavorful enough, tasting of chiles and cinnamon, to compensate for the salsa.

Since it's impossible to order just one type of taco, I also tried a chorizo taco, a taco de suadero, and a vegetarian taco, since I had such a great experience with veggie tacos last week.

The chorizo taco was interesting, since I was expecting the greasy, red, crumbled type of chorizo, and it turned out to be thin slices of sausage—the chorizo variety that is closer to a hot dog. Sweet and salty but with no spice, it had a nice bite, and of course, less fat. The green salsa had much more flavor than the red.

Next to the chorizo was the suadero, which, when I ordered, was told it was going to be bistec, and it was—chewy pieces of grilled beef, with a slight charred flavor. Not a bad taco, but between the two beef tacos, the birria was far superior.

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The vegetarian taco was actually quite good—filled with Mexican rice, chopped tomatoes and onions, slices of white cheese, and guacamole, it was all too easy to keep eating. Maybe because the rice was so good, with lots of soft peas and carrots; maybe it was the generous spoonful of guacamole, which I can never have too much of. Either way, it was a nice meatless option.

This is not the Taqueria Coatzingo on Roosevelt Avenue and 76th Street; they do not serve tacos de birria. That is in Jackson Heights; this one is on Elmhurst, and they aren't under the same ownership.

Coatzingo Restaurant

40-18 82nd St, Elmhurst, Queens NY 11373 (map)
718-779-7930

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