Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tacos El Idolo - Taco Truck on the Northeast corner of 14th Street and 8th Ave.

I hate to repeat myself but I am not use to paying $2.50 for a taco so I am always a bit offended when I do and yet somehow I keep coming back to this spot. This taco truck aka lonchera (SoCal spanglish way of saying it) is parked at this corner every night and I have even seen them there as late as 2am or was it 3am?

Tamales are $1.50 and enchiladas go for about $6. But, we're here to talk tacos.

What to get
Hands down the carne asada (bistec) tacos; I wouldn't rate this place as one of my top choices but definitely WORTH A VISIT if you're in the neighborhood and hungry. The chicken and the carnitas tacos are also worth an honorable mention, not very dry and not very greasy.

What NOT to get
Two things, the first is the vegetarian taco, because you can make this at home (although people seem to like them). Second, the lengua taco, I am a big fan of this taco and well I was a bit under-whelmed. I can't stress enough how much of a snob I am about this taco because when it's made well it's Jimmie Walker Dy-no-mite!

This place is definitely CASH ONLY but the truck is conveniently parked in front of an ATM.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chavella's Cafe Mexicano 732 Classon Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11238 Between Park Place and Prospect Place 718-622-3100

This came in as a recommendation from a reader. This Brooklyn spot is near the Brooklyn Museum of Art and apparently the chef worked at some fancy Manhattan restaurant before setting up shop. Those in the know know this type of information does not matter because some of the best meals I've had have been on the side of a road with live chickens running around a few feet away from me or in my mother's comadre's tiny apartment, both of which have never step foot inside a fancy Manhattan restaurant.

What to get:
The green pozole!! I wanted to call my mother and her comadre and complain to them that they robbed me of a childhood experience! This isn't on their menu so call ahead and find out if they are serving it that day because it's delicious. The other is the Quesadilla de Huitlacoche (wheat-LA-ko-cheh). Huitlacoche is the fungal, culinary delicacy Ustilago maydis that grows on ears of corn. According to, "American farmers call it smut and devil's corn and consider it a disease to be irradiated. The peoples of Mexico as well as the American Hopi Indians consider the fungus a delightful delicacy." In NYC they call it Mexican corn truffle... whatever, order it, trust me you won't be disappointed.

What not to get:

Unfortunately I didn't think the tacos were all that, in fact a bit dry. Tacos are very simple yet very difficult to nail. If you make it out to Chavella's you should try some of their other dishes.

Cash only, click for menu

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sundays at Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard's Church 330 West 14th Street Between 7th and 8th Ave.

I don't know if these guys are outside of the church on Saturdays but I went by this past Sunday around noon and I saw 4 different vendors selling tacos, pozole, and champurrado. Champurrado is a warm, thick, chocolate based Mexican drink made with hominy flour (harina), chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and a little bit of salt; it is very popular during the fall and winter. I didn't ask if they sold tamales but I am sure they do since the weather is starting to get chilly. This place is standing room only, so you might want to take your food back to the SoHo House after ordering.

What to get:
Hands down stick with the tacos de asada and the champurrado. My thing is"keep it simple," I felt like I was at St. Emydius Church in Lynwood, CA. While you're there you should sample everything and give a special shout out to La Virgencita. It's spots like this that make New York what it is.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Los Hamptons Edition: LA HACIENDA 48 Jagger Lane, Southampton, (631) 287-6814

Located across the street from the “Fresh” supermarket, La Hacienda is a no frills kind of place. As my girlfriend puts it, “La Fondita has a cute ambiance and La Hacienda is all about the food;” food and drinks are served on Styrofoam plates and cups (nuff said). They were recently mentioned in a NY Times article along with other restaurants in the area and I think this has brought in a new breed of customers. When we showed up the staff seemed a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people lined up to chow down.

What to get:
The tacos are delicious. All I can say is it’s the best tongue taco I’ve had so far in the state of New York. The carne asada tacos are better here than at La Fondita, the meat is good and the tortilla is not dry. The asada torta ($5.00) is decent, the bolillo bread which is often used for this Mexican sandwich was soft and smooth.

What NOT to get:

Hard shell tacos, you the douche with no neck driving the Porsche, you made it this far so please don’t be a schmuck and order hard shell.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Los Hamptons Edition: LA FONDITA (open May-October), 74 Montauk Highway, Amagansett, (631) 267-8800

I know this isn’t New York City but there’s a small taco scene out in the The Hamptons that’s legit. After deciding not to wait forever at the Sunset Saloon in Montauk, I drove over to “La Fondita.” Perusing through the menu I quickly noticed I was now dealing with the real thing, which surprised me that a place like this would be in the middle of Amagansett. Are these East Coast Güeros finally wising up to the ways of the West?

I sampled every taco on the menu even after getting weird looks by the skinny bitches (hey I’m thin too). I’ll start off with the tongue tacos because I love this taco the most, it’s simple yet in my opinion it’s the hardest taco to get right. The meat needs to be tender and some shred the beef so it doesn’t harden. La Fondita’s tongue taco was okay, I wasn’t blown away. In fact the tortilla on all the beef tacos I ordered were a bit on the dry side, which distracted from the meat. The tacos were okay, a place like this would be run of the mill in Los Angeles and for a lot LESS.

The taco to get here is the Tacos de Camarones, Shrimp tacos. La Fondita hit the ball out of the park with this one. The taco is filled with several shrimps; the corn, cilantro, onions, and red pepper add a lot to this taco.

The corn (elote) here is amazing, I think because it's locally grown and the corn in Long Island tends to be good. Make sure to wash the the shrimp taco and the elote down with some expensive horchata ($3.75 ouch). I’m going back this weekend to sample their Pozole, stay tuned.

Friday, July 25, 2008

You need a piñata?

You want to make tacos at home and you don’t know where to go or your mocoso is turning five and you need to get him a piñata? Go to Little Mexico Meat Grocery two doors over from Las Delicias Mexicanas on 3rd Ave between 115th and 116th. They have a meat counter and you can get fresh slabs of carne asada, the tortillas seem to be rotating often, and best of all they sell piñatas!!! One of the things I look for when I walk into a Mexican grocery store is the juice drink JUMEX, they have it and yes they have mango flavor. Herbs, Pancho Pantera Chocolate mix and candles with la Virgen are the norm at this store (yes Moctezuma is making a comeback).

I am starting to see this part of Spanish Harlem like a little Puebla. I don’t want to go too far and say little Mexico because well… you know I don’t see many people from Jalisco, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, or Michoacan in the neighborhood but definitely worth the trip uptown if you want a down and dirty experience.

Little Mexico Meat Grocery will most likely become my default grocery store since Matamoro Grocery on Bedford Ave. shut down some time ago. When you go make sure you ask if they have Gansitos.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tacolandia 2119 3rd Ave. (between 116th and 117th)

One block up the street from Las Delicias Mexicanas is taquería Tacolandia (Tacoland), a whole-in-the-wall spot with a jukebox in the back that plays music from Alejandro Fernandez and Los Tigres Del Norte. Now if you’re going to name your taquería Tacoland you better be prepared to back it up!!!! The women behind the counter were nice and we chatted for a bit, they’re from Puebla and well obviously I am representin’ Jalisco and I think there was a bit of a culture clash.

I started off with a carnitas taco because they were out of steak tacos, the carnitas was nice and greasy, and overall I like the taste and texture so it was a good start. I saw tacos de lengua on their menu and I couldn’t resist. They serve the taco in a red sauce that didn’t do much for the taco in fact it was distracting.

I am on the fence with this place and will probably go back to have a steak taco before I make a final decision but it’s still better than that Benny’s place in the West Village.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Delicias Mexicanas (2109 3rd Ave between 115th and 116th)

Food served Mexico City style (D.F. Guey) !!!!! I sat down in this very clean establishment (don't worry it's still a hole-in-the-wall) and when I opened the menu I was pleasantly surprised. You have hauraches, tacos, mole, enchiladas and they serve pozole on the weekends. I started off with a carne asada taco ($1.50) and finished it in less than sixty seconds... yes it was that good.

Next I ordered the Pozole (cos' it was Sunday and that's what you do), now pozole is a traditional Mexican soup which has been around since pre-Columbian times and derives from the Nahuatl word potzolli. There are different variations of the soup depending on the region. The base for all pozole is hominy (dried corn) and pork (although some use chicken instead). The pozole at Delicias Mexicanas is made in a clear broth, I grew up on a red broth so I prefer it red, but beggers can't but choosers.

For dessert I ordered the flan, I am not a big flan fan and I couldn't understand why I ordered it but as soon as I put a spoonful in my mouth, for a brief second I thought I saw La Virgen but soon I realized I was looking at a miniature statue. This place gets my approval!!!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Endless Summer taco truck (Williamsburg Bedford Ave. and N. 6th Street sometimes on N. 7th St.)

So I heard about a taco truck in Williamsburg and when I got there I find two pinche gringos running the operation... I know I’m shocked too! But I have to say they serve a good braised beef taco. The meat is tender and shredded, and they don’t over do it with the toppings. Their green salsa was not too spicy and not to soft it was perfect.

Spanglish word of the day: "Cheese" - I was at a bar and some vato try to dance with my vieja and I told him that cheese with me.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Brownstoner’s Brooklyn Flea Market (Ft. Greene – corner of Lafayette Ave. and Vanderbilt Ave.)

I caught wind that some of the vendors from the Red Hook ball fields now set up shop at the Brooklyn Flee Market ( which is located at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School on Lafayette Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Green. The “Martinez Food Vendors From Red Hook” were representin’ with a menu that included huaraches, quesadillas, and tacos. There was also another vendor selling pupusas for my Salvadorean brothers which I didn't get to sample but merits another trip.

So what I am seeing in NYC is that the tortillas tend to be bigger and I guess the taco vendors at the flee market feel justified to sell their tacos at three dollars a pop. If this was LA they would be arrested, in fact if my mother was there she would cry out “BLASPHEMY!” Now to get down to the quality of the taco, it wasn’t the best and definitely not the worse - it was average. I ordered one carne asada taco (steak taco) and a carnitas taco which they gave me Al Pastor instead… hmmmmm. Why I am giving it an average rating? Well, the woman put too many toppings, I’m from the school of “less is more.” I think on a taco you should at the most have onions, cilantro, salsa, some salt, and freshly squeezed lime. I will be going back this Sunday to try their huaraches and sample a pupusa. This taqueria is definitely a good introduction for you novice taco eaters but keep in mind that tacos can taste better. Please if anyone out there finds a place that sells tongue tacos shoot me an email ASAP!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Florencia 13 (Sullivan Street between Bleeker and Houston)

Florencia 13 (Flow-rhen-cea Trez-say) on Sullivan Street in the village is named after one of LA’s oldest street gangs which is concentrated in South Central. The gang got its name from the major street Florence Avenue which runs West to East. The restaurant’s décor radiates Chicano and Pachuco lifestyle culture which is an anthropological study of its own.

The restaurant names its dishes after LA neighborboods (ie, Echo Park Enchiladas or Elysian Park Flautas). The El Sereno Al Pastor Tacos are basically Tacos Al Pastor which is a rubbed pork with marinade taco, pretty good, reminded me of home. I also tried their enchiladas and steak tacos which are good. I’ve been to some places here in NYC where their enchilada sauce came straight out of can (Que horor)! This is a good place to get your feet wet and waaaaaayyyyyy better than that in-authentic place “Benny’s Burritos,” their only down fall is they don’t serve Tacos de lengua. This place is definitely worth a try.

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