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[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

I first learned about Los Portales Taqueria from an inspired taco crawl on We Heart Astoria, then filed it away, and then shamefully forgot about it. So when Rachel Wharton included it in her Broadway list of Q Train eats, I figured it was time to stop filing it away and pay a visit.

To get to your table you have to pass a large spit of pork roasting al pastor and a cauldron of veal flank and sausage bubbling in sauce. These are good cues for what you should order, because even if the tacos and sandwiches aren't the best constructions here, the meat is well worth a visit.

The Suadero Torta ($5.50) is stuffed with a generous amount of that veal from the cauldron: tender as can be with a restrained beefiness rounded out by tomato and spice. The meat comes in large chunks, satisfying to chew before they just fall apart. The rest of the sandwich is mostly support: sturdy, well-griddled but unremarkable bread, ripe avocado, pickled jalapenos, unmelted mild cheese, shredded lettuce, and bland tomato. But I appreciate the heft of the sandwich over the taco: it balances out the meat with some crunch for a bite that's more than the sum of its parts.

The house salsas, on the other hand, are decidedly memorable: a smoky, creamy roja that doesn't go lightly on the heat, and a thinner, chunkier verde that lives for tanginess and the slow burn. Garnish your torta with these, but go lightly. That meat is too good to obscure.

Los Portales Taqueria

25-08 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106 (map)
718-204-6736
losportalestaqueria.com

About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz.

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