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[Photographs: Scarlett Lindeman]

As local Mexican businesses go, the Zafra and Carrera families are moguls. They are owners of Quesos Mexicanos and Aztecas Linda's, respectively, two Brooklyn cheese companies that produce and distribute their Mexican-style cheeses to the tri-state area. This year, they opened a taqueria, Carrera's, in Bushwick, a natural extension of their businesses, selling Mexican products to local bodegas and high end restaurants. Though the Carrera family eventually dropped out, their influence is felt right next door at the Piaxtla tortilla factory. The taqueria is a cozy respite on a gritty stretch of Flushing Avenue where trucks blast down the thoroughfare. Lines of colorful paper flags swing from ceiling as diners scoop up cheap guacamole ($5), eat tortas ($6-6.95), and sip housemade tepache ($2), a bracing, fermented beverage made from pineapple skins, sugar, and water.

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Chips and pico de gallo hit the table while you wait for your tacos: regular palm-sized guys ($2.50), teensy ones not much larger than a silver dollar ($1.50), or either size, on hand-made tortillas (add .50). Opt for the freshly made tortillas which are thick and toasty, smelling of sweet corn. They're better mantles for tinga, shreds of chicken in a bright tomato sauce, seared cubes of steak, and carne enchilada, chopped pork in a chile-flecked marinade. All are sprinkled with a petite dice of white onion and frilly cilantro.

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The menu extends to more exotic antojitos. I especially liked the picaditas, a simple antojito made of fresh masa that looks like a miniature inflatable swimming pool. The high-sided coasters of masa are filled with refried beans, crema, and crumbled queso fresco. The crisp sides are offset by the moist cornmeal center, the perfect carrier for a trio of salsas: two green, one red, that send off sparks. There's also to crisp flautas, a chicken consomme with rice, and burritos with superlative flour tortillas and fillings of grilled cactus, squash blossoms, and little button mushrooms. The inventive Super taco ($4) is a burrito-taco hybrid of sorts, made with a smaller flour tortilla. Mountains of huitlacoche tumble from monstrous quesadillas, heavy with stringy queso hebra. And you can get the Tex-Mex behemoth, a chimichanga ($7.50) a whole burrito that's deep fried to a shatteringly crisp golden brown, destined to sear off the first three layers of skin at the roof of your mouth.

Carrera's

915 Flushing Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11206 (map)
347-599-2193

About the author: Scarlett Lindeman is a cook, food-writer, and recipe editor of Diner Journal, a food/arts quarterly. E-mail her at scarlett.lindeman@gmail.com.

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