Mexican Eats: Vegetarian Tacos At The Brooklyn Flea
There's no shortage of tasty treats at The Brooklyn Flea, on Saturdays in Fort Greene. It's a cornucopia of edible wares, but if you're vegetarian and in the mood for Mexican food, the array is reduced to just two stands: Choncho's Tacos a new-ish stand that specializes in fish tacos, and Maria's Tacos Autenticos, a long-time Red Hook Vendor. Qualifications aside, there are some admirable eats to be found among them.
Judging from the line in front of Maria's Tacos Autenticos, they are one of the most popular food stands at the Flea. They have been operating out of a taco truck, at the Red Hook ball fields, for years, and are comfortable with the constraints of a roving kitchen.They've turned 10 square feet into a bustling operation: they've got grill guys, cooks assembling taco toppings, a full-time quesadilla lady, and a meat-forward menu of huaraches, quesadillas, tacos, and sopes, that can easily be made vegetarian.
The vegetarian tacos (2 for $7) feature mushrooms, spinach, squash, and zucchini, well-seasoned and seared on the plancha, and piled into tortillas under lettuce, pico de gallo, crema, cheese, and a thin guacamole. The vegetables are hot and tender, with a little caramelization around the edges and a deep, satisfying flavor that recalls a Mexican cuisine was once largely vegetarian, based on the holy trinity of corn, beans, and squash.
Also good are the flautas ($6), three corn tortillas rolled around fillings of potatoes and cheese, deep-fried into crispy, flute-like, batons. The flautas are, unfortunately, fried beforehand and held warm, but still retain some crunch under a mountain of lettuce, crema, cheese, and guacamole.
Maria's generous condiment bar, with a heap of limes, chunky pico de gallo, raw tomatillo green salsa, an incendiary red, and a quart container of jalapenos and carrots en escabeche is exemplary, countering any deficiencies that can come with re-heated, makeshift market-fare.
You can tell that they're still working out the kinks over at Choncho's Tacos. Their namesake, a Baja-style fried fish taco, is what everyone orders, though there is also a carnitas taco, a grilled fish taco cooked on a flat-top the size of a magazine, and a cursory vegetarian taco on the menu. The veggie features a nice corn tortilla, sunken by a plop of warm black beans with packaged shredded cheese and a sharp chop of onion on top. There's just Tapatio and a dry wedge of lime as adornments. The taco has a certain dorm-room quality to it, like a snack a buddy served to you in college, fashioned out of microwaved tortillas and hot sauce. Pescatarians have it better here.