How Small, Immigrant-Owned Taquerias Are Weathering the Lime Shortage

How Small, Immigrant-Owned Taquerias Are Weathering the Lime Shortage
Scarlett Lindeman

A multitude of factors have converged to contribute to the drastic lime shortage in the United States this month. Thanks to citrus blight, erratic weather, and inner-state narco politics in Mexico, the price of the little green citrus fruits has skyrocketed, prompting the public to reconsider the ubiquity of an everyday commodity. What is a bowl of pho, a gin and tonic, or a taco without a squeeze of lime?

"We're using the yellow ones," admits at cook at Williamsburg stalwart, Tacos Santana (301 Keap Street, Brooklyn, 718-388-8761). Though the Spanish language only differentiates the fruit by color (they're both considered limons, in Spanish -- limon verde for lime, limon amarillo for lemon), flavor is a different story; the bright, kick of lime juice is the expected accompaniment to the taco-experience. As bars shift their focus away from juice-heavy drinks, restaurants ration the lime wedges, and kitchens purchase from concentrate, taquerias have fewer options for substitutions.

And the hardest hit may be the small-scale, immigrant-owned-and-operated taquerias, the bodegas-with-a-griddle-in-back, which are finding it hard to absorb the increase without higher priced menu items or alcohol to defray the cost. A lemon is not fungible for a lime, but at Reyes Deli & Grocery (532 Fourth Avenue, 718-369-3211) in South Slope, as at Tacos Santana and many of the city's modest taquerias, that's what comes on the side of a cecina taco.

Thankfully, summer lime season is just a couple of months away, and then a new crop will quench the lime-stricken masses. Support your local taqueria and drink grapefruit margaritas until then.

Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city's best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.

Use Current Location

Related Locations

Taco Santana

301 Keap St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211


Reyes Deli & Grocery

532 4th Ave.
Los Angeles, NY 11215


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