Of the coterie of taco trucks that line Roosevelt Avenue from Woodside to Corona, El Gallo Giro is one of the most popular. It’s a cart that only comes out at night to haunt the block with the aroma of searing meats and plumes of well-seasoned smoke. The cooks’ dexterity on the flat-top griddle is well-known among those who dine frequently underneath the 7 train; their hand with heat, pressure, and a nimble spatula conjures the best from meat applied to hot metal. From dusk until dawn they feed the hungry, the drunk, and even some of the early morning commuters who know just how well a lengua quesadilla goes with drip coffee.
Their carne asada–thin slips of beef seasoned with salt and pepper and chopped to bits — is what most people order, but the chorizo, which appears as neon-pink crumbles that radiate garlic and coriander, sizzled to a dark crust, is even better. Whatever you choose it will be tucked into double-wrapped tortillas, sprinkled with cilantro and diced onion, and sluiced with a loose guacamole. The tacos are then crimped into cones as tidy as Japanese temaki hand rolls ($2.50 each). On a recent visit, a Taqueria Coatzingo chef, still in uniform, put in a post-work order. “It’s too crowded at my restaurant,” he said with a shrug. “Plus, these guys specialize in tacos. We might do large plates well–but they’re taco masters.” Agreed.
El Gallo Giro, Roosevelt Ave. (between 74th and 75th streets), Jackson Heights, Queens
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.