Bacon Shell Taco

Bacon Shell Taco

So Marvel Senior Art Director Jeff Suter sent me an email the other day with nothing more than the image at right and the text “bacon taco.” After over two years at the House of Ideas, FINALLY, someone gets me. When I asked Jeff where he found the image, he didn’t know. Sometimes, the most wondrous things in life just come to us.

Doing a quick Google search reveals that the spectacular bacon shell taco was gifted to the world by the wonderful people at Bacon Today. They even came up with a rhyme to help you remember how to pronounce it. “One, two, buckle my taco/ three, four, give me a baco.” It brings a salty, bacony tear to my eye, it does.

Hopefully we’ll be back to taco blogging more frequently now that the insanity of New York Comic Con has passed. Remember kids, there must ALWAYS be time for tacos.

Our La Fiesta Feast!

Our La Fiesta Feast!

With a hankering for tacos and no desire to go too far from home, we ordered tacos and a mammoth burrito from La Fiesta, the taqueria Elizabeth found in Washington Heights a few weeks back. At $2 per taco, I decided to taste the rainbow of tacos and get six of ’em: steak, pork, chicken, spicy pork, al pastor and chorizo. Now, I’m not such a savage that I’d eat all six at once, but after downing the steak, spicy pork and chicken tacos, I damn near grabbed the other three.

The tacos at La Fiesta are exquisitely tasty, spiced wonderfully and very similar to the ones at Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery down in Hell’s Kitchen…though La Fiesta’s tacos come topped with a bit more onion and cilantro than at TDG. Still, they’re not just similar in terms of the rockin’ flavors–these tacos are a lil’ small. It’s easy and affordable to down three or four of these in a snap.

La Fiesta has officially become my go-to taco place when I’m at home. Hell yeah! More photos on Flickr.

We actually do enjoy Taco Bell. Sure, we’d rather eat awesomely authentic tacos filled with quality meats, but there’s just something enjoyable about heading into the suburban wilds of Westchester (we live in Manhattan) for errands and hitting the Bell on Central Avenue in Yonkers. That said, Taco Bell has some incredibly bad tacos.

Supreme chalupa from Taco Bell

Supreme chalupa from Taco Bell

Their standard hard and soft tacos? Yikes. Nasty stuff. No, we go to Taco Bell for our own little guilty pleasures. For Elizabeth, it’s the Meximelt–a simple little melted cheese and meat treat. For me, it’s the chalupa. Oh glorious chalupa! And really, the chalupa stuffins are almost negligible. Ground beef, chicken, steak, whatevs, it’s not gonna be that mind-blowing at Taco Bell. No, the chalupa rules because of the shell. It kind of tastes like deep-fried flat bread–at once chewy, crunchy and soft.

Oh, and big ups to Taco Bell’s special Club chalupa, the “McRib” of faux-Mexican fast food delights (the specialty menu item that only shows up once a year or so and for a very short amount of time). Bacon and chicken and sauces inside the chalupa shell? Nom nom nom nom…
We’ll hopefully be back to normal posting soon. Elizabeth’s been dealing with sickness and the lead-up to New York Comic Con has been hell for me. Tacos!

We’ve had good tacos, bad tacos, great tacos and forgettable tacos, stretching back to when we first started to talk about doing this blog. Through it all, we’ve come to decide that, so far, we’ve found three definitively and consistently great taco places. I don’t think we can say that these are the BEST taco joints in NYC–everyone has different ideas of good tacos and we really haven’t eaten at enough NYC taquerias to be so bold, but here are our CURRENT picks for Top 3 Taco places in NYC.

1. Castro’s Mexican Restaurant – Absolutely amazing hard tacos, exceptional green sauce, off the chain tortilla chips, great meats (steak and pork being their best), kickassedly huge tostadas and perfect for eating in or taking out. Hell, whenever we go there, I have to order a few soft tacos to go so I can have them for lunch afterwards.
511 Myrtle Ave Brooklyn, NY  11205
718.398.1459

2.  Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery – Great variety of meats, very tasty. It’s much better as a take out joint as the actual taqueria is just a booth in the back of a deli with a few barstools and 3 countertops to eat at. But the two ladies that cook the tacos really cook the HELL out of the tacos. They’re pretty small and inexpensive, so getting 3-4 is almost required. I tip my hat to fellow Marvelite C.B. Cebulski for tipping us off to this place.
695 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
212.397.5956

3. Taquerea Y La Fonda Mexicana – This spot up near Columbia University has monstrously big tacos that are awesome when they’re not too greasy. My biggest gripe with it is that you just don’t know what you’ll get when you go. When they’re on, hot damn, they’re outta this world. When they’re not…meh. That said, the good far outweighs the bad. Get some!
968 Amsterdam Avenue, New York NY 10025
212.531.0383

We’ll do more in-depth reviews of those places soon. I kind of hope our Top 3 changes as we go on, because that means we’re eatin’ some good-ass tacos!

After Ryan’s birthday extravaganza, I wasn’t expecting tacos for lunch today. I did have lunch and museum plans with my pal Daphne, though, and we decided to let our museum choice–The Hispanic Society, at 155th and Broadway–dictate our lunch selection.

Out of necessity, Daphne, a vegetarian, did some research. With the Caribbean foods that dominate Washington Heights, it’s often hard to find a place that isn’t all about meat, doesn’t include pork in the beans, or chicken broth in the rice.  That’s fine for my omnivorous tastes, but not part of the day’s plans.  Daphne found La Fiesta, a small, taqueria-style Mexican restaurant, only a few blocks from the museum.  And it had vegetarian tacos and burritos!  Success!

As we entered La Fiesta, the grill and food prep area stood to the left.  I was pleased to see tender-looking meats in bubbling tomatillo sauces, fresh chopped cilantro, onions, and limes, and queso oaxaca among the ingredients–this was no Dominican/Mexican hybrid, but a place with genuine Mexican flair.  La Fiesta’s dining area has a number of two-seater tables, a moderate, comfortable amount of space for lunch, but not set up for large groups.   (Of course, we were one of two occupied tables at lunch, so this was not a problem.)

While we waited for our tacos, we split an order of guacamole and chips.  The guacamole was a little smoother than I tend to like it, but the chips were delightful: crunchy, robust-flavored, with just the right amount of salt, and not too greasy, they stood out from many other taqueria chips.

Each taco, accompanied by slices of lime and radish, came tightly wrapped in paper.  I can’t really comment on the flavor of Daphne’s vegetarian tacos, but they looked delightfully cheesy (Oaxaca, I think).  I had one Al Pastor and one bistec taco, each topped with onions and cilantro.  I don’t know if the Al Pastor was properly from a rotisserie (the Mexico City way, based on Middle Eastern cooking methods), but it was tender, juicy, and a little sweet, just like it should be.  Compared to the well rounded and well balanced flavors of the Al Pastor, the bistec did not particularly stand out.  It was just a bistec taco, albeit a better-than-average one.

Sadly, since this was a surprise lunch, there are no photos to document the occasion.  But I fully intend to drag Ryan back for a second visit, where I intend to explore some other menu items, maybe a cemita, the sandwich of Pueblo, or a torta or a sope, all of which were on the menu.  And then there will be photos!  Lots and lots of photos!

Finally, stay tuned for our exploration of high-class Mexican in NYC at Rosa Mexicana!

Qdoba logo

Qdoba logo

Mexican-ish fast food joint Qdoba has a nifty little deal. Sign up for their frequent eater card, give them your birthday and every year, you get a free burrito or entree of your choice. Well, it’s buy one, get one, but it’s still kinda free. My boss, John Cerilli, and I share the same birth-date and last week we got the same email: free food from Qdoba!

Before I go into the tacos, I will say that I have a soft spot for Qdoba. The Q (as we…or I…called it back then) located in the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, NY was a frequent haunt for my friends and I who worked at Wizard Magazine. It wasn’t great food, but it was cheap, quick and sometimes one of their gigantic burritos just hit the spot.

3 tacos at Qdoba

3 tacos at Qdoba

Anyway, Cerilli and I decided to head to Qdoba to enjoy some free food–once last week and once this coming week. I, of course, chomped down on their three-taco plate during our first visit. I even went for hard tacos, cheese and tomatoes–no need to try and get something authentic when nothing there is authentic, right? I really didn’t expect good tacos, but they a little bit crappier than I’d anticipated. Bland meat (both the steak and the pork) and very little of it. Taco shells were crap. I don’t even think there was salsa.

And I’m going back. This week, I think I’ll go back and try the soft tacos. Mix it up a bit! Then, maybe, I’ll head to Chipotle and do some sort of crappy fast food taco face-off! Although, that means I’ll have to pay for (probably) lackluster tacos. Meh.

We watched the Mexico City episode of “No Reservations” tonight. To say he ate some amazing looking tacos would be an understatement. Dude ate some of the most beautiful tacos I’ve ever seen. I watched the taco segments, mouth agape and watering and just imagined how glorious that must have been.

Unfortunately, Travel Channel doesn’t have the full episode online for viewing. All they have is this very short clip from later in the episode where he eats bull meat tacos. And, yeah, it looks good, but there’s a good chunk of the episode devoted to Mexican street food and tacos of various shapes, sizes and meat-fillings. If you can, I highly advise checking it out. For now, peep this:

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