A Taco for Every Tastebud
There aren’t many cuisines that Brooklyn doesn’t do well. Yet one critique many visitors and transplants—be they from California, Texas or Manhattan—like to levy against Kings County is our surprising lack of quality Mexican food. And you have to admit, with a few notable exceptions (including Calexico and basically every block in Sunset Park) it is distressingly difficult to find grade-A tacos in most parts of Brooklyn. But that may be starting to change. Recent months have seen a slew of serious Mexican restaurants hit the borough, offering tacos filled with everything from fried sweetbreads to brisket. In fact there are enough taquerias of distinction in the borough that we had a Clinton Hill taco smackdown a few months back, comparing the goods at Cochinita (offering taco deals at the Immersion this Saturday) and Salva Vida. Here are a few more new favorites.
Breakfast Tacos: Whirlybird
The most hipster-friendly new taco option brings the Austin, Texas tradition of scrambled egg-based breakfast tacos to Williamsburg’s southside. Here they’re paired with savory toppings like home fries, Oaxaca cheese and crumbled potato chips, and washed down with espresso drinks made from beans from Oslo Coffee Roasters. There’s also an ever-changing daily lineup of innovative lunch tacos like slow-roasted pulled pork in a blueberry barbecue sauce, plus rotating art exhibits celebrating indie record labels (of course). 254 S. 2nd Street.
SoCal-Style Tacos: Ho’ Brah
Bringing a touch of Baja to Bay Ridge, this surfboard-accented newcomer aces the most distinctively West Coast meal of them all: fish tacos. Their sizeable versions come both fried (panko-crusted Atlantic cod topped with red salsa, California coleslaw and chili-lime sour cream) and grilled (a daily catch of white fish finished with tropical salsa and avocado crema). Other very Cali options include an asparagus, black bean and roasted corn taco. And, it’s hard not to be a fan of the “loco frites”—basically beef nachos, but made with crispy tostones instead of tortilla chips. 8618 3rd Avenue.
SF-Style Tacos: Villa Pancho
Representing the northern half of California, this Bed-Stuy taqueria offers Bay Area-style Mexican food. That means you’ll find fish tacos here, too, but the menu is weighted heavily towards burritos, and the burritos are impressively weighty. The overstuffed options include California classics like a burrito stuffed with a chile relleno (a fried poblano pepper that in turn is stuffed with melted jack cheese), plus more questionably authentic over-the-top creations like a burrito jam-packed with hamburger meat, French fries and refried beans. 1047 Bedford Avenue.
New Brooklyn Tacos: Guero’s
Forget bringing other traditions east; it wouldn’t be Brooklyn if we didn’t have at least one place getting outright inventive. This Crown Heights entry brings the crazy—serving up tacos stuffed with on-trend ingredients like jalapeno-buttermilk fried chicken and slow-cooked brisket. We’re particularly partial to the batter-fried avocado and fried pickled-jalapeno tacos. If you can’t make it up to Whirlybird, Guero’s also serves breakfast tacos, although only on weekends. 605 Prospect Place.
Brunch Tacos: Chavela’s
Just around the corner from Guero’s, this neighborhood favorite recently upgraded to larger digs on increasingly happening Franklin Avenue. It’s the neighborhood’s most perennially packed brunch spot, and with good reason: savory dishes include huevos rancheros, chilaquiles (toasted tortillas simmered in tomatillo sauce and topped with fried eggs), and scrambled egg and jalapeno tacos. Plus, all brunch dishes come with Mexican sweet bread and a glass of sangria. In evenings the taco options run more toward the traditional, including chicken mole and roasted poblano peppers with mushrooms. 736 Franklin Avenue.
Fancy Tacos: Gran/Eléctrica
The borough’s highest-end new Mexican eatery comes from the team behind Brooklyn Heights’ popular Colonie restaurant. Taco purists may balk at the price tag (the tiny, four-inch tacos start at two-for-$7 and go up from there) but they come with fancy-pants fillings like sweetbreads, striped bass and chard. The DUMBO restaurant also specializes in lesser-known regional Mexican specialties like tlacoyos (puffy, oval-shaped masa cakes topped here with ricotta, cactus and queso fresco) and gives the drinks menu a refreshingly adult makeover with their margaritas de remolacha—Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila mixed with housemade cilantro syrup and fresh beet juice. 5 Front Street.
Old-School Tacos: Carerra’s Taqueria
Fried avocado and fresh seafood not withstanding, the best new tacos we’ve tasted are at this decidedly non-trendy newcomer in Bushwick. Warm tortillas are made by hand on-site and filled with classic, slow-cooked meats like cecina (salted beef), carnitas (roasted pork), and tinga (shredded chicken in a deep, spicy chipotle sauce). At $1.50 per small taco and $2.50 for large ones, they’re unquestionably the best deal in the batch (even the small ones here dwarf Gran/Electrica’s tiny, pricey tacos). You’ll also find torta sandwiches and quesadillas filled with pumpkin blossoms and huitlacoche—Mexican corn fungus prized for its deep, truffle-esque flavor. 915 Flushing Avenue.