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.
Roommate Oscar was nice enough to join me (”Will you buy me tacos? Is it a business expense?”). We met up at 1st Ave. and 3rd St. He took about fifteen minutes locking up his bike (”It belongs to my mother…”). Then he took a seat by the window so he could watch his bike. In fact, he spent the remainder of the meal craning his neck to make sure it wasn’t getting ripped off. I can’t imagine that the convenience of being able to ride a bike could ever make up for the ulcer it’s going to give him.
I ordered some tacos. Puebla has a nice feel to it: sort of a family run kitchen cum dining room. It was about 6:30 and they were doing a brisk business. Looking around, it seemed like the burritos and the tortas were the house specialities, or at least that’s what everybody was eating. This torta nonsense is becoming a disturbing trend. I might have to bite the bullet one day and order one.
The tacos took kind of a long time, but they were swamped and I had Oscar to regale me with his Oscar tales. When they finally did come I was surprised to see that they were rolled (see above) almost like taquitos and even came with their own individual wrappers. Now, I see myself as something of a purist, but maybe I can get behind these sensible little bundles. As long as the meat to tortilla ratio isn’t fucked, I’m willing to tolerate it.
But how the hell were they? Well, the pork taco was actually pretty good. The meat was a tad on the dry side but the flavor was rich, fatty, pretty much everything you want from the noble beast. The onions and cilantro were fresh and Oscar commented on the crunch. I agreed. The onion flavor in particular stood out, holding up well against the buttery pork. There was a little bit of salsa in the taco (none on the table though), seemed like a mild salsa verde, but I think it could have been stronger. The most disappointing part of the taco was actually the tortilla, which tasted straight out of the package and put a damper on the other ingredients. Maybe I was getting too much tortilla in my mouth because of the way the taco was shaped. Maybe they were just a little stale. Maybe the rolled taco is untenable as an alternative to taco “classic.” Lines are being drawn. Sides will be taken.
The steak was fine. I had a bite. Oscar seemed to enjoy it. But let’s be honest, kid will eat anything.
Definitely going to go back for the chicken mole taco, and you can’t beat this place for convenience. And who knows? I may even get crazy with a torta. Anything could happen.
Puebla Mexican Food
47 1st Ave. (btwn 3rd and 4th)
East Village, Manhattan, NYC