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Updated by Mark Litwin on Jul 28, 2014
Mark Litwin Mark Litwin
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The Best Tacos in New York City

El Toro Blanco

Elevating classic Mexican eats to "gourmet" levels, Josh Capon's slick West Villager delivers dishes that "burst with flavor" amid a scene of "trendy" "hustle and bustle"; though service can be "spotty", prices that are relatively "reasonable" for the upscale milieu help make it a "zesty addition to the 'hood."


Mexican mavens "all abuzz" over these "rough-and-ready" street-cart spin-offs call out their "outstanding", "Cali-inspired" tacos, tortas and burritos; "fabulous prices" and "fast service" offset the "simple" "hole-in-the-wall" settings; P.S. "make sure to get the ‘crack' sauce on anything you order."


Chef Alex Stupak's "bold" detour from desserts at WD-50 to "high-minded" Mexicana pays off at these "trendy" destinations; the original West Village outlet "redefines the taco", while the "more upscale" East Village spin-off aces "super-imaginative" small plates – between the "killer" drinks and "fashionable" following, both enjoy crazy "buzz."

Pachanga Patterson

A "not-so-hidden gem" in Astoria, this "hip" Mexican from the Vesta folks puts a "cool spin" on tacos and other classics – but some say sophisticated cocktails are its real "strong suit"; "multicolored string lights and candles" enliven its "low-key" interior, while the "sunny" backyard is a warm-weather "find."

Salvation Taco

Hitmakers April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (The Breslin, Spotted Pig) are behind this "wildly popular" new Murray Hill Mexican offering "inventive" if "comically small" tacos plus "not-for-everyone" items like pig ears and chicken feet; the "quirky" setting mixes religious iconography with Ping-Pong tables, but it's so "noisy" few notice.

Taco Santo

From the Palo Santo folks, this nearby Park Slope Mexican offers a brief, low-cost menu starring tacos built with housemade tortillas and premium ingredients like heritage pork and lobster, washed down with craft beers and cocktails. There are a few tables plus bar seating in its tiny, rustic interior, but come summer the picnic tables out front are the place to be.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita

Taking the "concept of a food truck" indoors, this "real-deal" NoLita taqueria plies "delicious" "mini-me-size" tacos from a vintage VW van parked in an "industrial garage"; it's a "fun", "kitschy" experience, even if the "picniclike" seating "could be nicer."


"Distinctive" takes on Mexican standards, "memorable" margaritas and "enthusiastic" service are the draws at this "appealing" (if "noisy") Theater District "find" and its "slightly fancier" UES sibling; downtown, the Taqueria is "hard to beat" for a fast FiDi lunch.




The team behind Williamsburg cult fave Traif has headed down the block for this moderately priced entry offering eclectic takes on Mexican fare – think sopes topped with foie gras and pineapple – in a snazzy room with cozy booths, intricate rope and iron work and a good number of bar seats; the drink list features a myriad of mescals, plus an extensive wine list divided into multiple sections, each bearing the name of a different shiksa (a homophone of the restaurant’s name).

Barrio Chino

A “total hipster joint”, this LES cantina serves a “tasty”, “authentic” Mexican menu in a “microscopic” setting; it’s still “something of a scene” after more than a decade, maybe because of its “highly affordable” price point and “lay-you-out-flat” tequila list.

El Parador Cafe

A "devoted clientele" gets its "paella fix" at this '59-vintage Murray Hill vet that's known for "true-to-its-roots", "old-world" Mexican cooking; obscured by Midtown Tunnel traffic, it's a "hidden gem" – polished by "cordial" servers – that insiders want to keep "secret."

El Paso Taqueria

Eastsiders count on these "solid", unpretentious Uptown Mexicans for "terrific" tacos and other standards ("try the agua frescas") made "fresh" with "quality ingredients"; "tight quarters" and "so-so" service are offset by "unbelievable-value" prices.

Tortilleria Nixtamal

It's "all about the masa" ground in-house at this Corona Mexican renowned for the freshest tortillas "this side of the Rio Grande", as well as "authentic" tacos and "melt-in-your-mouth" tamales; sure, it's a "hole-in-the-wall", but compensations include "friendly" service and "Queens prices."

Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria

The words "upscale" and "refined" are "not usually associated with a Mexican restaurant", but this "sophisticated" Upper Eastsider is just that, serving "delectable" food in a "remodeled" room that includes an adjacent tequileria; sure, it's "noisy" as heck and the tabs skew "expensive", but it's still considered a "special treat."

Mexico Lindo

A Gramercy Park "fixture", this circa-1972 "neighborhood" Mexican is touted for its "truly authentic", "down-to-earth" cooking, "friendly" service and "best-buy" prices; maybe it "needs a makeover", but no one cares "after a margarita or two."

Mission Cantina

As a followup to his LES favorite Mission Chinese (currently shuttered while it looks for a new home), chef Danny Bowien opened this affordable and cool Mexican taqueria in the same neighborhood. A limited number of reservations are taken, so plan on barhopping in the ’hood while you wait to sample the dozen-plus taco varieties and larger plates (the rotisserie chicken seems to be on every table) in the colorful, eccentrically decorated room.


"Hidden down an unmarked staircase" off a Chinatown alley is this "speakeasy-style" Mexican "surprise" from the Apothéke folks, turning out "beyond-the-ordinary" tacos and other bites washed down with "interesting" pulque cocktails; the "cool vibe" tilts kinda "crazy late-night", especially when there's "amazing" live music and dancing.

Rosa Mexicano

From the "terrific" tableside guacamole to the "habit-forming" pomegranate margaritas, the fare's "reliably delicious" at these "enjoyable", "upscale" Mexican cantinas; while tabs can be on the "pricey" side, "attentive" service and "lively" settings make dining here "feel like a party."

Tacos Matamoros

"So authentic you need a translator", this "popular" Sunset Park Mexican offers a "wide selection" of "delicious, authentic" dishes – including "all the traditional ‘Ts' (tamales, tostadas, tacos y tortas)" – at "amazing prices" abetted by a "BYO policy"; it can be hard to "flag down servers", and there's "little ambiance" unless you count "bad telenovelas on the TV", but never mind because "it's all about the comida" here.