Right across the street from Xochimilco there’s the wood-paneled Tacos Matamoros, which looks and sounds more like a Benihana-style eatery than a place that slings al pastor and lengua. The facade put me off a bit, but I had read some good things so I decided to sneak a few tacos before I took the longish train ride back to Greenpoint.
So I’ve been getting a lot of lip from you people about my neglect of Sunset Park. I guess that’s good. I guess it’s why I wanted to write about tacos in the first place. But the zeal some NYC taco hunters reserved for 5th Ave. between 39th and 56th inflated my expectations so much that I thought I was going to walk off the Subway, fall in a pile of pillowy tortillas and immediately be smothered in al pastor. Not so. The salsa verde does not flow through the streets of Sunset Park, but the tacos were there, and I was hungry.
When I started this, I figured finding a good fish taco in Manhattan would be expensive and annoying. Expensive because I had seen fish tacos on the menu at fairly nice restaurants, and annoying because I knew they would insist on dressing it up in all kinds of foodie bullshit. Worse, I feared the dreaded grilled fish taco, I perversion of the Baja form that I hold so dear.
First of all, let me say how wonderful the response to Lost Taco has been and how much I appreciate all the comments and the recommendations. It’s deeply satisfying to hear from so many passionate taco-savvy readers. For those of you who linked me on your blogs and message boards, I’m very grateful and when I can I’ll point people in your direction. Last Friday, we got nods from Serious Eats, Thrillist and Chow, among others. I can now categorically say that anyone who says there is no taco scene in NYC is flat-out wrong.
On to more important matters. I received many recommendations, and I’m looking forward to following up on all of them, but out of sheer laziness (and a clamoring for more Manhattan spots) I decided to try Zaragoza Mexican Deli and Grocery in the East Village first. I was particularly keen on trying the veal taco, which sounded decadent and delicious.
My buddy Bennat first tipped me to this spot a year ago when I came to visit. A lifetime New Yorker, he spent a few (painful) years out west with me in San Diego so I trust his taco instincts. I tried it last year and was underwhelmed but since I was in the neighborhood I thought I’d give it another shot.
Finding a good taco truck, one that you trust, isn’t unlike being in a relationship. There’s the discovery, the passion, the long summer nights wiled away in loving embrace, and of course, inevitably, the moment when they take off the emergency brake and drive away, leaving nary a trace. I have loved and lost, readers. I have, but I am not a cynic. I seek out love still.
So it was with this quixotic spirit that I approached Tia Julia, a taco truck at 91st and Roosevelt, in Jackson Heights, Queens. The lunch rush was pretty much over, but there were a few stragglers munching on tacos and sipping horchata. The horchata looked cold and delicious. My hopes picked up, love radar cautiously humming to life.