EAT LOCAL: Navigating the Taco Scene

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With taco trucks, Asian fusion and dessert tacos, it can be hard to navigate Brooklyn’s taco scene. Here are a handful of places that pair perfectly with a warm spring day.

 

The al pastor and carnitas tacos at Varrio 408 are some of Brooklyn’s most authentic tacos.

Varrio 408

When Martin Medina moved to Park Slope 27 years ago, NYC was a soulless place with no avocado toast.

Ok, it probably had more soul, but avocado toast hadn’t yet swept the city. In fact, people even barely knew what avocados were, Medina said.

He opened Park Slope’s first taqueria and still serves up authentic tacos in fresh-made tortillas all these years later. You can watch the tortillas being pressed at the front station at Varrio408, formerly La Taqueria, a go-to spot for authentic tacos inspired by Medina’s California upbringing and travels through Mexico. The restaurant’s tacos al pastor, for example, use a recipe he found in Mexico City, which is known for the dish of slow cooked pork slices from a spit with onion, cilantro and pineapple. The carnitas is simmered in its own fat, just like in Michoacán. The restaurant also offers taco platters by the pound.

“I wanna stay very simple and very original. I don’t want to fusion-ize it,” Medina said.

Rachel’s Taqueria, next door, has more of a Tex-Mex feel.

 

Brussels, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, jalapeno hummus and salsa verde will make you feel like a goddess at Miti Miti.

Miti Miti

If anywhere has an upgrade from the expected, it’s Miti Miti. Owned by the same folks as Bogota Latin Bistro across the street, Miti Miti is Tacos 2.0. They’re large and stuffed with lots of nice fresh ingredients, almost like a burrito-taco hybrid. Try one for happy hour during lunch (Mon.-Fri. 11am-4pm) or dinner (Mon-Thurs. and Sundays 4pm-11pm.) For a hearty dose of veggies, the green goddess has brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, jalapeno hummus and salsa verde. But the jerk chicken taco is the real star with tender, juicy dark-meat chicken, mango, cucumber, guacamole, pickled onions and crema. “It has a little spice but a soft balance to it,” co-owner George Constantinou said. There are also weekly taco specials and if you save room, apple pie tacos for dessert.

 

Pan-Latin favorite Palo Santo’s taco happy hour features fresh ingredients and tasty made-to-order tortillas, like these barbacoa tacos.

Palo Santo

Palo Santo was already a favorite spot for its Pan-Latin eats and colorful, serene setting. You can escape the crowded city life with a free taco every week day (Mon-Thurs. 6pm-10pm) with purchase of a beer, wine or sangria. The taco selections rotate, but on a recent visit there was barbacoa, fish and Koreanos, a Korean-inspired taco with tender beef marinated in homemade chili paste, kimchi juice and soy sauce. The tortillas (corn, masa, salt and water) are made-to-order.

 

El Atoradero brings some of the city’s best tacos to Washington Ave.

El Atoradero

The move from the Bronx to Brooklyn in 2015 may have been bittersweet for chef Denisse Lina Chavez, but the well-lauded spot became an instant hit with the Prospect Heights crowd. The staff serves up delicious tacos like can’t-miss carnitas, chicken tinga and lengua. It’s pretty spacious and has a backyard for warmer months that will be one of our first stops once the sun is out. The owners also opened Madre Mezcaleria next door in February.

 

Tacos Morelos brings tasty tacos to Union Street for your on-the-go summer sustenance.

Tacos Morelos

In the neverending L.A. versus NYC debate, we always hear that L.A. has the best taco trucks. But Tacos Morelos on 5th Ave. and Union St. is a pretty big contender and of course the perfect stop for summer. Stroll to the park or hang at one of the tables on Union and 4th for some flavorful, not-too-greasy street tacos. For just a second, imagine you’re in L.A., inhale deeply, and eat another taco. Keep riding the wave of those Cali vibes with a beer down the street at Pacific Standard.

 

The spots:

Varrio 408 412 5th Ave. varrio408.com

Palo Santo 652 Union St. Palosantorestaurant.com

Miti Miti 138 5th Ave. mitimitinyc.com

El Atoradero 708 Washington Ave. elatoraderobrooklyn.com

Tacos Morelos 5th Ave. and Union St.

 

 

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About Author

Beth Kaiserman is a writer and restaurant worker in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Highbrow Magazine, Paste Magazine, Examiner.com and The Gotham Palate, a local food blog. She likes to cook and tap dance. Her biggest fear is losing her ticket at Katz’s because it was scary enough the first time, and she still has flashes of pastrami and prison cells.

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