So, I got out of work today with the intention of hitting up the taco cart for some Taco Tuesday delights. But rain, mixed with the A train not running up to my stop for some godforsaken reason, altered my plans. Luckily, we got a new taco joint in the neighborhood a few weeks ago that Elizabeth and I have been meaning to try.

Four tacos from Villa Patron in Inwood, NY

Four tacos from Villa Patron in Inwood, NY

Villa Patron, just west of the 1 train on Dyckman Street has only been open for three weeks, but it seems like a nice joint. Moody lighting, plenty of space and a nice staff. Alas, it seemed a litle slow to get my taco quartet, but the wait was, thankfully, mostly worth it. I’m gonna do this a little different and break ’em down individually.

  • The chicken taco was dry. Seasoned well, flavorful, but drrrrry. I’d probably try them one more time to see if they were always that dry. If they’re not, they’d be pretty damn good.
  • The al pastor taco (basically spicy pork with pineapple–hot and sweet) was the best of the bunch. Really damn good. An excellent mix of hot and sweet, with delicious pork. That hit the spot!
  • Fish taco! I, uh, forgot to ask what kinda fish it was. Pffft, whatevs. Fishies! I was happy to see they didn’t fry the hell outta the fish and instead cooked it nicely with a bit of spice, leaving the fish very moist and tasty. And they put enough fish in that taco to fill two tacos. Yeah!
  • Oh shrimp taco, why have you forsaken me? While not as overcooked as the chicken, the lil’ shrimp were dry and lacking flavor, acting more like taco filler than taco fiesta.

Each taco was $2.50, not a bad price for restaurant tacos, especially when they’re really hefty tacos. The plate came with radish and limes, necessary bits. I didn’t try the guacamole, salsa or anything else, but I sure plan to.

Will we eat tacos from Villa Patron again? Most definitely!

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Tacos at Midnight Doritos

Tacos at Midnight Doritos

While in the ‘burbs yesterday I spotted a bag of the new Late Night “Tacos at Midnight” flavor Doritos. I love Doritos…I love tacos…these should be the best things ever, right?

Well, they’re not that good. They don’t taste anything like tacos. Elizabeth says they sort of taste like Old El Paso taco seasoning, but my tongue either doesn’t know or doesn’t care. It’s a sort of hybrid flavor, but it didn’t do anything for me. Gimme cool ranch or the classic flavor.

Would we buy another bag of “Tacos at Midnight” Doritos? No.

Pork gordita

Pork gordita

On a more pleasant note, we diversified our selections at the Inwood taco cart yesterday with a steak burrito (massive and awesome!), a lengua, aka beef tongue, taco (one of the finest tongue tacos I’ve ever had) and a pork gordita. I’ve never actually had an authentic Mexican gordita, just the Taco Bell kind. The taco cart gordita was delicious, a mix of pork, lettuce and tomato, spices and sauce inside a thick, deep-fried corn tortilla. Foodgasm.

T&T!

T&T!

Of course, by T&T, I’m referring to tacos and tamales. And yes, I’m again posting about the taco truck–well, it’s really more of a taco cart–on Dyckman Street here in Inwood. We hadn’t tried their tamales when we last posted, but now with a few in my belly from repeated visits, I’m happy to report that they rule. The tamales come in only two flavors: chicken mole and chicken with green sauce.

Mole Chicken Tamale

Mole Chicken Tamale

They’re both killer, but I like the mole one a bit better. That said, they’re $1 each and so you’re pretty much required to get 2. Add those to a meal that includes magnificent tacos that have been getting better each time I go there and that makes for some magnificent eats. If you can make it up to the Inwood taco cart on the weekends, you won’t be disappointed.

As always, there are more photos on our Flickr.

Inwoods Taco Truck

Inwood's Taco Truck

I’d been feeling pretty crappy today, so when Elizabeth and I took a walk to run some errands, I was delighted to see the local taco truck make its first appearance of 2009. Located on the corner of Dyckman St. and Sherman Ave. way uptown in our neighborhood of Inwood, the taco truck is just one of the many awesome food carts and vendors located on the busy stretch of Dyckman (aka 200th St.).

Spicy Pork Taco

Spicy Pork Taco

I’d only had a chance to eat tacos from the taco truck once or twice before–and they were great–so I had to grab one today, even though I wasn’t really hungry. I decided to go all-out with a spicy pork taco, all the fixins, including spicy sauce, lettuce, tomato and guacamole. Oh, and it was good. Not the best pork taco and probably a little hampered by all the extra stuff, but the flavors were really solid. And I WILL be going back, quite a lot, over the next few months. Hooray tacos!

There are more photos on Flickr and we’ll post more about this taco truck as we experience all its wonders.

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.