I love tacos. Some might even say I’m obsessed with tacos. You could even go as far as calling me taco loco. I didn’t really even have a real taco until I was in my early 20’s. I grew up with Ohioized Mexican food a la Taco Bell and ChiChi’s and real tacos just didn’t exist. When I began a life of travel I began frequenting food stalls whenever I could and it opened my eyes to the vastness of the taco landscape. Now that I’m settled in Brooklyn, I make frequent trips to the taqueria. I’ve eaten a lot of bad tacos in Brooklyn, though the majority are as good as anything I have found in Mexico. I still haven’t visited all of them and probably never will, though here are my ten favorite taquerias in Brooklyn thus far:
1.) La Superior
I really like La Superior. It is my go to place whenever I need a taco, which is often. This is my favorite taqueria in all of New York. The South Williamsburg eatery offers authentic, high quality tacos and other Mexican dishes from the state of Guadalajara. With ten varieties at $2.50 a pop (except for the lengua, or beef tongue at $3.50) you cannot go wrong here. 295 Berry St, Williamsburg www.lasuperiornyc.com. Read our review of La Superior.
2.) Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos
I didn’t know about this place in Bushwick until I saw Anthony Bourdain go there in an episode of No Reservations. Now it’s one of my favorites and it might even crack my love for La Superior. It’s inside of a tortilla factory with just one narrow dining room that holds the kitchen. On weekends they add a few tables inside the factory. A big jar of jalapeños sits on the counter, next to a few bowls of hot sauce that you can take back to your table. The price are next to nothing. 271 Starr Street, Bushwick, www.TortilleriaTaqueriaTresHermanos.com.
3.) Country Boys
Puebla natives Fernando and Yolanda Martinez have been slinging their meaty, filling tacos at the Red Hook ball fields in the faboulosuness that is Soccer Tacos since 1993. They won the 2009 Vendy award and have appeared at different events around NYC as their popularity has increased. If you’re at Soccer Tacos, just look for the longest line and that’s Country Boys. Their Huaraches, Quesadillas, and Chalupas are excellent, as well as reasonably priced. Red Hook Ball Fields, Bay and Clinton Streets, Red Hook, www.redhookfoodvendors.com.
4.) Calexico Carne Asada
Red Hook’s Calexico has both trucks and a newish storefront, which TimeOut NY readers named the best new Mexican Restaurant in 2010. Their Carne Asada tacos are the highlight her, even with the $4 price tag they’re worth your pesos. The Chipotle Pork tacos are noteworthy too. They usually have a few daily special fillings on hand at both the storefront and trucks. Their sauce bar is the best of all the taquerias in Brooklyn. 122 Union Street, Red Hook, www.calexicocart.com
5.) Tacos Matamoros
This place just reeks of authenticity. There’s all sorts of organs and offal on the menu and the prices are nada. Tacos come in small and large sizes and are slathered with a dollop of guacamole unless you tell them not to. Apart from the usual fillings, there’s Lengua (Beef Tongue), Cabeza (Cow head meat), Cueritos (Pickled Pork Rinds) and Suadero (Beef from above the udder) BYOB! 4503 5th Avenue, between 45th & 46th Streets, Sunset Park
Considering the staff are all quasi-punkrockers, most are surprised of the quality of food that comes out of Papacito’s kitchen in Greenpoint.) The restaurant has the same owner as Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Label opened Papacito’s in a small courtyard and it recently expanded with a full bar and dining room. Tacos are $3 each, though big and the choice of fillings is the best in Brooklyn: Anjito Pork (Lime and Chili Carnitas) Grilled Chicken, Chorizo, Carne Asada, Ground Chili Spiced Mexican Beef, Chili Verde Pork, Grilled Tilapia, Grilled Vegi, Spicy Tempe, Seitan Asada, SoyRizo. Their list of margaritas and tequilas is the best priced around too. 999 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint, http://papacitosbrooklyn.blogspot.com
7.) Tacos Xochimilco
Lengua, Chorizo, or whetever taco you want is $1.50, though you’ll need a little bit of basic Spanish to order it. It’s right across the street from the more hyped Matamoras, though the food is comparable. 4501 5th Ave 3, between 45th St & 46th St, Sunset Park.
8.) Tacos El Rey
What could be better than huge portions of fish tacos near the ocean? Catering to the local Hispanic community in Brighton Beach, Tacos El Rey only has Spanish menus and the waitresses speak hardly any English. Tacos come two per order for $8, but they’re big and meaty and come wrapped in paper in cone form. 3168 Coney Island Ave, Brighton Beach.
9.) El Diablo Tacos
Permanently parked in the lot behind Union Pool hall. Just push the hipsters out of the way to get to the back. They serve organic beef, vegetarian, and pork (cheek meat) tacos, and occasionally grilled fish tacos. It’s good cheap, and the hot sauce is really hot. 484 Union Ave, Williamsburg, http://eldiablotacos.com
10.) Mesa Coyacan
Their tacos are great and there are 8 kinds, though they lose points for the $3 each price tag when having to order three at a time with no mix and matching. The promising restaurant that opened in mid-2009 serves up excellent gourmet Mexican fare like ceviches, Sopas (Azteca, de Mariscos, Pozole Garibaldi), enchiladas, and interesting mains like Chiles en Nogada (roasted poblano pepper stuffed with shredded pork, peaches, pears, apples and almonds covered in a walnut sauce then topped with pomegranate seeds). 372 Graham Ave, Williamsburg, www.mesacoyoacan.com
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.