Mexican Eats: Phenomenal Tinga at Roosevelt Tacos in Jackson Heights
Roosevelt Tacos is a fairly new taqueria on Roosevelt Boulevard in the lively Latino stronghold of Jackson Heights. Formerly, Suadero Tacos, the bright corner shop has maintained the former taquerias' emblem (a photoshopped eagle in flight as well) as its craft: fresh antojitos like huaraches that drape over plates, quesadillas, and sopes, thick coasters of masa, that steam from their time spent on the flattop. There are burritos under blankets of crema ($7), mojarra frita ($14), fried porgies with their skin slashed so the oil can sizzle the flesh, and spicy caldo de camaron soup ($12) that seethes under a film of red oil.
Tacos ($2.50) arrive double-wrapped and anointed with avocado salsa. The suadero's edges are crunchy and well-browned; lengua comes tender and beefy. There's also cecina, carnitas, al pastor, oreja, tripa, and chivo, to round out the selection and a thin, red salsa with a walloping heat.
But everyone in the restaurant—extended families, couples eating at the bar, and single men—hovers over plates of quesadillas ($7). The LP-sized corn tortillas, folded in half to form giant half-moons, are made by hand and as moist as tamales despite their toasting on the griddle, light-years away from the brittle trappings of most street-cart quesadillas. They're topped with refried beans, crema, and cheese, and stuffed with enough meat to take a steak knife to. The tinga, a delicate braise of chicken, onion, tomato, bay, and garlic, could have been pulled straight from the pages of a Chez Panisse cookbook, if not for the robust boost of chipotle pepper. When cradled in the quesadilla, it's one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to eat.
94-06 Roosevelt Ave. Jackson Heights, NY 11372 (map)