I've been excited about this brand new taqueria in Elmhurst ever since the awning went up, and once I saw the sign advertising tacos placeros, I knew it had to be my next Taco Thursday stop. A small, narrow restaurant, with a counter and stools but no tables, they seem to be doing good business already, as it was full when I went in for dinner.
Aside from tacos, tostadas, tortas and quesadillas, they have a small menu of daily specials like chiles rellenos, mole, and pipian, but I was there for the tacos, and a few quesadillas. Tacos placeros mean different things to different people, but generally are tacos that you can buy in an outdoor plaza in Mexico, usually inexpensive, made with a variety of fillings, but simply prepared. At Taqueria Jazz, they do a few different kinds, in the style of Atlizco, Puebla: barbacoa, carnitas, and azadura (mixed). They were all out of the meats by dinnertime (I took that as a good sign), and I ended up with a taco placero of huevo con arroz.
Rice and egg tacos are very heavy, meant to fill the stomach for the rest of the day, and these, aside from curbing my hunger, were actually quite delicate and delicious. The most noticeable difference between the taco placeros and the rest of the tacos on the menu is that these were made with two thin, flat, handmade tortillas, filled to bursting with Mexican rice, and topped with egg wedges and a substantial amount of roasted, sliced jalapeños.
I squirted the tacos with a good helping of the thin, red chipotle salsa and took a huge bite of the messy taco, rice falling all over the place. It was great. The rice was perfectly cooked and tasted of tomato and onion, the eggs were, well, eggy, and the jalapeños brought freshness and heat to the whole thing. The tacos placeros cost a bit more than regular tacos, at $3.95 apiece. Worth it for the homemade tortillas.
The taco de longaniza that I ordered to accompany my taco placero was a more typical taco, at a more typical price ($2.00), but nothing bad about it. Made from a regular, store-bought tortilla, and filled with lots of spiced sausage, onions, cilantro, and a dollop of guacamole, I topped this one with their fresh salsa verde, quite good, although not spicy. The sausage was crisp and crunchy on the outside, and heavily spiced; I could taste cumin and paprika. The only downside to the deliciousness of longaniza and chorizo, two of my favorite sausages, is how greasy they are. The tortillas were soaked with red grease—tasty grease, but grease nonetheless.
As usual, when I saw that Taqueria Jazz makes their quesadillas to order with fresh masa, I had to try a couple, so I ordered chorizo con papa (chorizo and potatoes) and calabaza con chicharron (green squash and crispy pork skin). No cheese in these quesadillas, just the fillings. The masa was pressed very thin by the woman manning the comal, so the quesadillas became incredibly crisp with the perfect ratio of masa to filling. In the first, tiny cubes of cooked potato blended perfectly with chopped chorizo, with a much different flavor than the longaniza—earthier, less spiced, and a little sweeter. The second quesadilla was filled with crisp, salty bits of chicharron and tiny green triangles of squash, full of flavor. They were both topped with crunchy iceberg lettuce, sour cream, and cotija cheese, a cold, creamy, crisp contrast to the warm, crunchy quesadillas. And at $2.00 each, I can envision stopping by often for a quick snack. Really well made. Taqueria Jazz, for a first visit, looks like a good addition to the neighborhood.
82-02 82nd Street, Elmhurst Queens 11373 (map) 718-426-4242
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