Plenty of places in New York City sell soda and paper towels, and plenty of restaurants sell tacos and tostadas. But to find all four, among other things, you have to go to a bodega taqueria. Like a mullet, a bodega taqueria is business in the front and a party in the back. Here are five of our favorites. By Jessica Allen.
Tehuitzingo Mexican Deli
Bypass the Mexican groceries for sale in the front of this Hell’s Kitchen establishment and head straight to the minty green area in back. There you’ll find 14 stools and 2 ladies making some of the tastiest tacos around. Tehuitzingo also offers sopes, tortas, and quesadillas, but you can’t go wrong with a cecina (salted beef) or papas con rajas (potatoes with peppers) taco.
This Brooklyn-based mini chain has three restaurants and counting scattered around Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Named for a city in Puebla, Cholula offers a great selection of Mexican specialties, including tacos and cemitas (similar to a sandwich, but loaded with jalapenos and cheese). All manner of meats are served here, but pig reigns supreme. This location also has a juice counter.
Since opening in South Williamsburg 12 years ago, Mexico 2000 has served the food of the proprietor’s native Puebla, including sopes (a crunchy circle of fried dough covered with beans, chicken, or carne [meat, usually beef]). Particularly popular are the enchiladas (corn tortillas stuffed with meat or veggies, topped with cheese and sauce, and baked to firm chewiness) and the pozole (thick stews spiked with corn, goat, or pork).
Like so many deli/bodegas, Guelaguetza boasts a red, white, and green awning, and a menu with typical American food. You can get your typical egg on a roll or BLT here, but better still are the choices from the “fresh fast Mexican food” section, including fajitas, burritos, tacos, sopes, and even Mexican nachos. Try the quesadilla stuffed with huitlacoche, aka “corn smut,” spongy and mushroom-like, and tasting better than it sounds.
St. James Deli
St. James Deli’s all-day, all-night hours mean you might find a line at 4 am, just as the bars are shutting down. No matter—the tacos are worth it, as are the tamales and tortas. Everything comes fresh and bursting with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and other fixins, such as chicken or salted beef. Finish your meal with a dulce made from tamarind or coconut, or an almond shortbread.