Tacos at El Aguila in East Harlem


The overstuffed tacos at El Aguila include carnitas (left) and barbacoa (right).

If you’re a Mexican taqueria occupying actual real estate, how do you compete with all the trucks that set up shop as soon as the sun goes down?

The answer is simple: You make your tacos far bigger than those of your rolling counterparts, filling them with so much meat that they can be subdivided, using the pair of fresh corn tortillas to make each into two separate tacos.

The tacos at El Aguila (“The Eagle”) at the corner of Lexington and 116th Street in East Harlem are $2.50 each ($3 for barbacoa–steamed goat), and the roster of fillings generally parallels that of the taco trucks, concentrating on chicken, tongue, sausage, goat, and several permutations of pork.

The tacos come with a choice of four salsas that are dispensed from a big humpy stainless steel device at one side of the dining room. The guacamole is much thicker than that dispensed from the trucks; you could almost dip chips in it. Since the place is also a tortilleria, the tortillas are imperially fresh.

From the upper left going clockwise, salsas include chipotle, guacamole, roja, and verde.


A number of freshly baked pastries beckon at El Aguila.

The place is not only a taqueria and a tortilleria, but a panaderia too, so a range of pastries is displayed in a case along the back wall. Our favorite was the $1 thick slice of flan, nicely browned on top, with a bottom crust that was like fine textured cornbread. The pastries are baked at El Aguila’s original location in Passaic, New Jersey. El Aguila is open 24 hours a day for your taco eating needs. 137 East 116th Street, no phone

The colorfully decorated interior of El Aguila

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