Down a Prospect Heights side street, spitting distance from the Brooklyn S line shuttle, is Güeros, a taco spot from the owners of Dram Shop, a bar in Park Slope. It's a true neighborhood spot, with benches outside and wooden stools and tables within, and a mixed crowd lingering over fresh lime margaritas ($6) pulled from a dispenser and Lone Star beers ($4), a cheap, sweet brew from Texas that garners rabid fans.
One of the owners hails from Austin, where flour tortillas and cheese on everything are de rigeur. They do make stellar flour tortillas in house; the corn ones come from Nixtamal. Many other ingredients are procured well, from grass-fed beef to organic eggs, and they've established a composting and oil recycling program. All the building blocks are there, laid out and ready, but the assembly can't quite put it together.
The housemade chips, thick and crunchy, are better naked than dipped into under seasoned, lime-less guacamole ($6). Beans and greens ($3), a cup of soupy black beans, are fine but contain no evidence of collards. Too many of the tacos are heaped with chunks of cold tomato, lettuce, cheese, and doused in dressing, as if sent through a gauntlet of a salad bar.
Small pearly fried shrimp ($4) had lost their breading on the way to the tortilla, and were squirted with both chipotle mayo and cilantro cream. The fried chicken taco ($3.50) was a nest of romaine, the chicken buried underneath. The novelty of fried avocado ($3.50), in a taco with fried pickled jalapeno, couldn't shield it from the sharp clang of Cabot cheddar cheese.
The roasted vegetable taco ($3) with refried beans, roasted zucchini, green salsa and pickled red onion worked well, and the housemade green chorizo, loose crumbles scattered with hunks of skin-on potato, was a delight—chili-forward, with a scattering of herbs and a flicker of warm spice. Braised brisket with strips of rajas had a straightforward meatiness, but wept grease.
You can't talk about Austin without mentioning breakfast tacos, which Güeros only serves on the weekend until 4 p.m. Their warm flour tortillas folded around softly scrambled eggs with bits of beans, chorizo, or rajas, is a plenary breakfast. Those tacos make a worthy plea for more breakfast tacos in NYC, and for Güeros to offer them more often.
About the author: Scarlett Lindeman wears many hats a food-writer, recipe editor of Diner Journal, a food/arts quarterly, and a doctoral student of sociology. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.