If you've been looking for an actually credible burrito in New York, we can safely say you've now found one.
'Mexican' on Serious Eats
Good news! There are more tacos arabes in the Bronx than we thought.
While it's not the Bronx's best Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Tlaxcalli is up there. And there most destination-worthy item is a fat cake of masa stuffed with cheese and nubs of fried pork.
Lina Chavez, the owner of bodega-turned-restaurant Carnitas El Atoradero, is no stranger to hard work. Part of that work is exposing New Yorkers to the real flavors of the Mexican kitchen.
North of Sunset Park, grocery store and taqueria El Tenampa offers a tempting mix of filling sandwiches and tripe soup with all the Mexican groceries and snacks that you could hope for. Here's how to make the most of your visit.
This is La Palapa's 14th winter since Barbara Selby, a native to Mexico City, opened the restaurant. The good intentions (and much of the good food) are still there, but without Sibley in the kitchen, some of her passion for Mexico's cuisine can get lost in translation.
In theory, the taco is a simple food: tortilla, filling, maybe some garnish, done. But there's an incredible variety of what you can stick in that tortilla well beyond the usual chicken-beef-pork. From eggs (beyond breakfast tacos) to off-off cuts (eyes, anyone?) to fried bugs, the taco comes in many flavors, and if you hunt around New York's taquerias and restaurants, you can find some examples well beyond the standards.
Cheesy, oily, mega-enchiladas have their place. When you're not in that place yourself, these lighter ones do quite well.
Until recently, the only way to enjoy owner Denisse "Lina" Chavez's cooking was to eat your picadata while leaning against the narrow store's shelves. Now she has opened up a full restaurant in the former pint-sized Mexicocina space next door. At first glance, the restaurant reads like an basic taqueria, with a menu that mostly lists antojitos and seating for about ten. But take a second look and you'll see that Carnitas El Atoradero is where you go to order the food you never get at your local taqueria. This is the home-style cooking, way beyond the taco, that New York needs.
On a recent cold, blustery night, a group of friends and I braved the elements to trek into Greenpoint. Our destination was Sindicato de Cocineros, an expansive, airy space lined with dark wood. The cocktails are interesting. But for vegetarians, the Mexican food leaves something to be desired.
After a few meals at Cantina I can feel the dedication and energy going into the restaurant. But the crushing ordinariness of the food suggests it's not enough. Petite, overstuffed tacos, high on style, are wan in the punch-to-the-gut flavors that made Bowien's name. Housemade Oaxacan cheese, bland as grocery store mozzarella and plated with some useless greens, is head-scratching. The question to ask at this early stage isn't "is it good," but rather, "would we be talking about it if it were owned by someone besides Danny Bowien?"
There are few options for good Mexican cooking in Forest Hills. This little taco cart is the best of the lot.
Tamales made with masa, dried, nixtamalized corn meal, are common, but at Seis Vecinos you can get a tamalito de elote—a dough made of fresh corn.
Danny Mena grew Hecho en Dumbo from a pop-up into a full Mexican restaurant of inventive cuisine. Now at Sembrado in the East Village, he combines traditional tacos al carbon with a "New York sensibility" and high-quality ingredients. In time to celebrate Dia de los Muertos with some mezcal and tacos de lengua, we sat with Mena to talk about what he thinks of the Mexican landscape of cuisine in New York and where he fits into it.
St. Marks Place has its share of late night taco stops, some more disreputable than others. The latest to join the fray is Taqueria Diana, which was opened by a homesick Californian.
At New York taquerias, sandwiches are sometimes a safer bet than tacos—New York bakeries produce better bread than our tortilla factories. And at La Herradura in Astoria, a fresh, poofy torta roll makes a welcome base for a Carnitas Torta ($6).
There's been a lot of taco talk in the news these past few weeks, leading to a couple essential questions: are there good tacos in New York, and where can you find them? Tell us what you think.
There are many places to get tacos in the East Village, but few that have a tricked-out mezcal bar that dispenses from uncommon bottles by the ounce. If you're interested in such a pairing, there's now Sembrado on 13th Street, where Hecho en Dumbo's Danny Mena does a menu of tacos and other snacks with a good happy hour deal.
When it comes to taco talk in Brooklyn, neighborhoods like Sunset Park get lots of love. But today we're talking Bushwick. So tell us: what's your favorite Mexican food there, and where do you get it?