Graham Avenue in Williamsburg may be named Via Vespucci for the Italian flair of its northern reaches, but head south and the atmosphere veers towards another stripe. Antojitos Mexicanos is holding down the Mexican side of the sector with tacos placeros, chalupas, and a steaming bowl of spicy pancita to cure any New Years-sized hangover.
'Mexican Eats' on Serious Eats
It's been a great year for Mexican food in New York, and as the community develops, second and third generations settle, and more chefs become inspired by the diversity of the cuisine, it can only get better. Here are some of the best dishes of the year, ten that would make even the most fervent disbeliever reconsider.
In 1985, LA mayor Tom Bradley declared December 19th as Burrito Day, a city-wide holiday that made inhaling bean and cheese burritos became not just lunchtime, but civic duty. We think it's high time to start in NYC, and here are three burritos worth celebrating.
On a sharp corner in Bushwick's Southern row is Taqueria El Paisa, a tiny triangle of a taqueria. Just three stools, a circumscribed menu, a walk-up counter, and some of the best al pastor tacos in the city.
From the blond, to the brown, to the broths tinged with red, to those as clear as consomme, it seems as thought there are more than fifty shades of pozole found throughout Mexico. Sabor a Mexico Taqueria in the East Village serves an especially great one.
As one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Brooklyn, Castro's is a weathered Clinton Hill stalwart, a late-night spot for Pratt students with a bustling delivery service.
For all of its Brooklyn affects, Gran Electrica isn't just posturing: there are arresting dishes painted with bright colors: tostadas de jaiba, beet margaritas, and the first torta ahogada that won't stain your fingers.
The chile relleno, usually a soggy, leaden dish of wet crust and bland cheese, gets rectified at Tulcingo del Valle in Hell's Kitchen.
Like your tacos with lots of lettuce? Güeros in Prospect Heights is serving it up American style. There's even a hard shell taco you may recall from your youth.
Celebrate Dias de los Muertos with pan de muerto, an eggy, yeasted sweet bread with a cross of bones baked on top, from Panaderia La Espiga Real.
When Tacos Matamoros is too crowded, head south to the sequel: Tacos Matamoros II, for the same owners, the same menu, and the same delicious chalupas.
For a man operating an under-the-radar Mexican restaurant out in Brooklyn, Roberto Santibañez carries a trunk of accolades. His newest restaurant, Fonda in the East Village, an offshoot of the original Park Slope location, has ruby walls, gothic trimmings, and a great happy hour, a peepshow of what the menu has to offer.
Quick and easy tacos, tortas, and burritos with a self-service condiment bar. Harlem's El Aguila takes it's cues from In N Out.
Navigating the arena of diners at Barrio Chino, a one-room, perpetually-packed Mexican restaurant in the Lower East Side is a little like a game of Tetris. But dig through the craziness and you'll find a very special mole.
The cart at 45th Street and 5th Avenue in Sunset Park may not have a name, but they do have a short and sweet menu of esquites, elotes, and gorditas, plus homemade juices and a green sauce that leaves you breathless.
These days, local tortillas, rounds of cotija cheese, and fresh serrano chiles are about as difficult to find in a supermarket as a box of Domino sugar. Neverthelss, as Mexican ingredients become more available, it can still be difficult to find the rare stuff. Enter Atlixco Deli Grocery, a grocery with two locations, one in Sunset Park and another in Jackson Heights, sprinting above and beyond in their selection of obscure Mexican goods.
It may be small and scummy, but Alimentos Saludables, a tamale outpost in Sunset Park is serving the real deal: a true Mexican breakfast of champurrado, arroz con leche, and some of the best tamales in the city, if you catch them on a good day. Plus—a tamale sandwich!
Casa Enrique, a six-month old restaurant in Long Island City, is carving out a new tier of Mexican restaurant in NYC. Ambitious but accessible, there's incredible enchiladas, tostadas, and a lamb shank you could bludgeon someone with.
When the thunderstorm hits, it's best to be somewhere warm, with flowery bachata music tinkling in the background, sheltered by sturdy walls and good food. Tacos Morelos, just might be the place.
A cemita sandwich, a beloved construction of Puebla, Mexico, is meant to be laughably large. If you're not bowled over by the sight of it, then it's not a proper cemita. Cafe Olin, a pleasant taqueria in East Harlem, does them just right, with one of the best buns in the city.