Mexican Eats: Goat Enchilada and Tacos Dorados at Taqueria Cocoyoc
In the Spanish lexicon, the word enchilada means much more than tortillas and cheese drowning in sauce. Enchilar, a verb that translates to "to bite or sting," culinarily means to add chiles to something. You can basically enchilar anything, though pork is the usual culprit, as in "carne enchilada": cuts of pork rubbed with a chile-flecked orange marinade that stains anything it touches.
At Taqueria Cocoyoc, a taqueria in Bushwick, it's the racier goat that gets the enchilada treatment. Goat meat may be unsettling to some, but it's not all game and funk. Here the barbacoa enchilada is tweaked with a rub of ground chiles and vinegar, cooked until soft, then torn into moist chunks and seared on the griddle. The marinade permeates the pieces of meat like good Texas barbecue, the sinews collapse, and the exterior shreds crisp and caramelize for amplified meatiness.
The taqueria, run by a family from Morelos, Mexico, features an outdoor patio beyond the cramped interior. The woman who runs the kitchen is a culinary force of nature: making marinades, grilling jalapenos, and chiding the young waitresses in a motherly tone. She assembles fried chicken cutlet cemitas ($6.50) and huaraches ($4.50-5.50): "sandals" in Spanish, for the shoe-shaped troughs of masa larger than Jeremy Lin's sneakers.
The rest of the menu is large and heavy on the antojitos, masa-based snacks. Tacos dorados ($4.25), slender flutes of tortilla hot from the fryer, wrap around cheese, chorizo, chicken, or my favorite, chunks of potato. The golden shells are cloaked in a lard-enriched purée of beans, then topped with shredded lettuce, crema, and crumbly cheese. The toppings fall off the pile when you extract one of the tacos, which shatters into a starchy, salty mash of corn and spud, almost as satisfying as the goat.
211 Wyckoff Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11237 (map)