Urban food-crawl is all about getting the best of a single dish or area. My first crawl is dedicated to tacos. Since my first trip to California in March 2012, I’ve been obsessed with this Mexican dish. I would say even more with fish tacos. But the real ones, not those fake crispy tacos you can have at Taco Bell or any other bad Tex-Mex restaurant.
For my friends overseas, what is a good taco? Pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon or even lobster, onions, cilantro, salsa and avocado for the California version wrapped into a fresh homemade corn or flour tortilla. Since I am in NYC I’ve been tracking the best one. This is not California, I agree, but you can still find great options in the Big Apple.
1. Ofrenda: great spot in West Village, the restaurant is trendy, awesome cocktails, authentic fish tacos made of tilapia baja style ($12 for 2). A go-to!
113 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014
2. Empellon Cocina, East Village: a whole chapter should be dedicated to Empellon Cocina. Acclaimed by the press to be one of the best new restaurants in town, I do agree. The tacos are really simple, maybe too much at the first sight with its sea scallops and caramelized cauliflower. A bit expensive ($16 for 2), but extremely tasty, having sea scallops in a tacos does worth the price.
3. La Esquina, Nolita : go for lunch at the Café. The restaurant is actually way nicer than the outdoor area. Get the fish tacos, really tasty, with red cabbage that makes it taste different ($9 for 2). The corner Deli, a bit tacky, is one of the three restaurants at the same spot. Come by night, a hidden restaurant, La Brasserie, opens downstairs. Reservation 3 weeks ahead though…
La Esquina, Café
New York, NY 10012
4. Dokebi Bar & Grill, Williamsburg: If you are looking for a Korean BBQ place, head to Williamsburg. This restaurant has such good vibes, and the music playlist is so much better than any Korean joint you will ever find in the depressing Korean town. But the surprise is the Korean style tacos. Go for the fish taco, battered white fish, only $4 each, with plenty of other options. It doesn’t look Korean at all, with its apparent brick wall, modern art wall and its red Vichy tablecloths. If you like kimchi and fish tacos you will love this nice fusion.
Dokebi Bar & Grill
199 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
5. Friedman’s lunch, Chelsea. The Chelsea Market reminds me the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The food looks great everywhere, but because it is busy and indoor in the basement, you need to find a cozy place to sit. Friedman’s Lunch offers you the solution. Good quality of fish, plenty, grilled and not fried, with fresh vegetable and covered with a white sauce, the fish tacos is a really good value ($13 for 2)
Friedman’s Lunch at the Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
6. Brooklyn Taco at Donna, South Williamsburg : As part of the Armory show, Donna, the hot cocktail spot in South Williamsburg is hosting Brooklyn Taco each Saturday of March. The venu is fantastic, the bar is relax and the decor elegant and beautiful. Grab a cocktail ($7 happy hour) and a cole-braised pork tacos ($4), promised you will enjoy your night!
7. El Toro Blanco, West Village: I already talked about this new spot, go see the review here.
8. Pinche Taqueria, Nolita: Just like an authentic taqueria, you don’t want to spend to much time in there. Good just to grab a taco and leave. This place got pretty good reviews, but once again I got disappointed since I thought it was not tasty enough (despite the whole guacamole on the top). Tacos are really cheap though ($2.95-$3.95) and you probably feel closer to Mexico than places like El Toro Blanco.
9. Takumi Taco, Street food: Featured at the Brooklyn Flea Market, Williamsburg Saving Banks, and soon returns at Smorgasburg on April 6th, Williamsburg, try these Japanese inspired tacos. I got my spicy tuna taco in a crispy gyoza shell. I would recommend the traditional corn tortilla since this version reminded me the taco bell commercial with its crispy taco.
Takumi Taco at the Brooklyn Flea Market
1 Hanson Place,
10. El Aguila: I live in Spanish Harlem, and oddly this is not the best area to get good tacos. Made with industrial tortillas, the meat is not really tender. I would not recommend the trip, even though I am sure East Harlem has some good suprises…
137 E 116th St # 1
New York, NY 10029