Rough-hewn corn tortillas constitute our connection with Mexico’s remote past, when women slaked tiny ears of corn with lye procured from blackened seashells to make masa. To put in those tortillas, they made chile-rich sauces, while their husbands sojourned in search of wild boar, crunchy insects, armadillos, and iguana to make the fillings.
Two decades ago, the city’s only chance to sample these world-class tacos came at several removes: our only Mexican food was an inherited version of Tex-Mex, which substituted flour tortillas for corn, ground beef for wild boar, and Velveeta-type cheese for the queso blanco of Oaxaca.
Then the Great Migration occurred, in which tens of thousands of citizens from southern Mexican states like Puebla and Guerrero came north, and formed the backbone of the city’s burgeoning restaurant industry. In small cafes they created for themselves, they struggled to recreate the cuisine brought from home, using newly imported ingredients, and it became one of their many gifts to all New Yorkers.
Which spot shapes their goat taco like a cone, and it’s so big you need a fork to eat it? Hint: It’s number six on our list.
We give you—Our Ten Best tacos, after the jump.
1. Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos (271 Starr St, Bushwick, Bklyn, 718-456-3422) 2. Tacontento (96-15 Roosevelt Avenue, Corona, Queens, 718-533-7727) 3. La Casa de Los Tacos (2277 First Avenue, East Harlem, 212-860-6858) 4. Estrellita Poblano III (2328 Arthur Avenue, Belmont, Bronx, 718-220-7641) 5. El Idolo taco truck* (Eighth Avenue and 14th Street, Chelsea, no phone) 6. Xochimilco (4501 Fifth Avenue, Sunset Park, Brooklyn, 718-435-7600) 7. Super Mexican Market (669 Elton Avenue, Bronx, 718-665-6482) 8. Tacos Morelos cart* (94th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona, Queens, no phone) 9. Pinche Taqueria (227 Mott Street, Lower East Side, 212-625-0090) 10. Los Dados (73 Gansevoort Street, West Village, 646-810-7290)
Runners-up: Taco Santana (301 Keap Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-388-8761); Cabrito (50 Carmine Street, West Village, 212-929-5050); La Superior (295 Berry Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-388-5988); Mixteco Grill (1609 Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 718-996-1601); Nuevo Mexico (77-16 Woodside Avenue, Queens, 718-533-8746); Toloache (251 West 50th Street, Hell’s Kitchen, 212-581-1818)
La Superior’s tinga taquitos, three to an order and spicy (see runners-up)
Don’t see your favorite taco on this list? Please tell us about it.
Next Friday—hot dogs
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 26, 2009