Is it wrong that my heart starts to pound when I see a little taco cart surrounded by ravenous locals? Is this unnatural? Shifting my weight nervously from foot to foot as I stood in front of Tacos Quicho’s I found myself puzzled by these questions. What was it about this cart? There were like four mother’s with kids in strollers and several men all jostling for position. There was one woman inside cooking all the food and taking care of the transactions. She wore a plastic glove on her food handling left hand and kept her right hand bare for handling money and paper plates. I saw several delicious looking tacos served up before I was able to belly up to the window. I ordered a single carnitas taco because it was first on the list of specialties.
She registered my order, but immediately went back to work. She plucked some fried pork from a covered pan and tossed it on the grill where it shared a small sizzling space with some steak and al pastor. The flavors were blending, coming together and changing. Meanwhile, she turned tortillas on the outer edge of the grill, where it must have been cooler. Finally, she garnished my carnitas taco with cilantro and onion, splashed on the mysterious quac salsa verde, and handed it over.
I got so excited by how it looked on the plate that I walked away, completely forgetting to pay. Half a block (and a taco) later, I realized my error and went back to fork over the two dollars. And the taco? Well…
It was damn good. The fried pork had been expertly spiced. It was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, a difficult trick and really what separates the men from the boys as far as carnitas goes. The salsa was delicious as well. Tangy, creamy, with just the right balance of heat and flavor. The great thing about carnitas is that there is all this surface area to pick up salsa, so even the middle bite (sometimes dry or flavorless on a carne asada taco) is as delicious as the first. I stumbled down Roosevelt happily inhaling my taco, glad that when I looked back over my shoulder Tacos Guicho’s was still there, and still drawing a crowd.
84th St. and Roosevelt Blvd. (El Carrito)
Jackson Heights, Queens