Chefs’ Picks: NYC Tacos
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Though not a traditional taco town, New York City has really upped its Mexican food game in recent years. From old school tortillerias to trendy taquerias, here’s where local chefs go when the taco craving hits.
Gaurav Anand, chef and owner of contemporary Indian concept, aRoqa, adores Chef Roberto Santibañez’s equally modern take on Mexican fare. When Anand visits the Chelsea outpost of Fonda (which also has outposts in the East Village of Manhattan and Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood), he orders the chicken tacos. “I like the chicken tacos because they know how to braise the chicken perfectly,” says Anand. He pairs the tacos with another Mexican classic: the beer-based Michelada cocktail.
As chef and owner of Middle Eastern spot Miss Ada, Tomer Blechman is no stranger to spice. And he gets the perfect dose of it at La Esquina. He loves the restaurant chainlet’s cocktails and overall vibe, but the tacos are his favorite draw. “I love the carnitas, it's the perfect amount of spice,” he says. “I get carnitas every time.”
Though he serves burgers (and other classic American bites) at his Chelsea restaurant, Creamline, Chef-Owner Harris Mayer-Selinger doesn’t always eat his meat in a bun. He’s such a fan of tacos that he has two favorite haunts. “My favorites are Los Tacos and the truck parked on 96th and Broadway,” Mayer-Selinger says. “Both are close to my home bases, Creamline in Chelsea Market, and the Upper West Side, where I live.” And each spot offers something different (and delicious) for the chef. “The tortillas are handmade at Los Tacos and they are extraordinary,” he says. As for his other pick? “I love the simplicity of the tacos and the variety of offal meats offered at the truck.”
For flavorful fillings and super-fresh tortillas, Executive Chef Frederic Duca of Racines NY in Manhattan heads across the bridge to the neighboring borough of Brooklyn. He ranks Los Hermanos in Bushwick as his top taco place in all of New York City. “It's not too expensive, very authentic and close to what you can find in Mexico," Duca says.
Chef Kevin Adey of the Michelin-starred Faro and the upcoming General Debs is also a fan. His go-to order? The chorizo tacos. “Like many of the world’s best dishes, these tacos are simple and delicious,” Adey says.
Photography courtesy of Fonda, La Esquina, Sara Ventiera and istock/Jann Huizenga