Los Angeles may be known for its authentic Mexican food, but there are plenty of New York City restaurants holding their own against the West Coast taco haven. From food trucks to fancy downtown restaurants, NYC’s taco scene covers everything from fresh fish tacos to creative sauces and toppings. Celebrate National Taco Day on Friday, October 4 at one of these delicious restaurants offering the best tacos in the city. By Sarah Shaker.
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King Crab Crunchy Taco, La Cenita
This September, EMM Group opened La Cenita (“The Little Dinner”) with Chef Akhtar Nawab previously of La Esquina. Located in the Meatpacking District, they’re serving shared modern Mexican plates, like the standout King Crab Crunchy Taco with roasted corn and chipotle ash esquites. Seared Tuna Tacos and Duck Enchiladas are also must-orders at this new modern Mexican restaurant. And for something sweet, Pastry Chef Thiago Silva will be serving S’mores Empanadas and Apple Pie Taquitos.
Al Pastor, Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food
The 2012 Vendy Award Winner can be found parked at the Red Hook Ball Fields with long lines of hungry customers on weekends. Order the classic Al Pastor (pork marinated with dried chilis) or get adventurous with Barbacoa De Chivo (slow-cooked pulled goat meat). Piaztlan Authentic Mexican Food’s deep fried Flautas and Tostadas are also comfort food staples not to be missed.
Lobster Tacos, Empellón Taqueria
More: NYC’s 5 Best Fish Tacos
Chef Alex Stupak has been dishing out gourmet tacos since opening Empellón Taqueria in 2011. At this West Village restaurant, the Lobster Tacos with epazote (a wild herb) and field corn for a truly special taco experience. Other nontraditional plates include the rich Shortrib Pastrami and Lamb Barbacoa tacos. If you’re a chip and salsa snacker, you’re in luck with 7 varieties to choose from, such as the well-known Salsa Verde to the creative Smoked Cashew. And if you can’t decide on one, go for the sampler of all 7 salsas served with chips for a dipping experience like no other.
For tacos with an Asian flair, Royal is offering crisp wonton taco shells filled with sashimi tuna, cilantro, chives, extra virgin olive oil, soy sauce and avocado mousse. One of our favorite NYC bars to watch NFL football this fall, Royal offers an all around great game day menu, no matter your craving.
Taco Sampler, Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen & Tequileria
Go all out on National Taco Day by celebrating at Maya Modern Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria with their special taco sampler featuring 6 for $10. This platter is perfect to share with a friend, boasting Taco Chilorio (Corn Tortilla, Pork chilorio, Pickle onions, sliced jalapeno), Taco de Pollo (Corn tortilla, chipotle marinated grilled chicken, iceberg lettuce, pico de gallo), Taco de lengua (Corn tortilla, beef tongue, chopped onion, cilantro) served with Serrano tomatillo salsa and Chile de arbol salsa.
Tribeca Taco, Tribeca Taco Truck
Usually parked in Soho, rather than Tribeca, this taco truck is known for their creative sauces, putting a twist on the traditional taco with salsa. Choose from Picante Rojo, Avocado Crema, Chipotle Crema, Pineapple BBQ, Spicy Mango, Salsa Verde, White Sauce and Sour Cream or go ahead and mix and match flavors for sweet, spicy and salty combinations. We’re big fans of their namesake Tribeca Taco with carne and chorizo then loading on a couple sauces like the combination of Spicy Mango with White Sauce.
Fish Taco, Rockaway Taco
When you’re just a few steps away from the ocean, you’ve got to go for the fish tacos. Rockaway Taco’s fried version are a hit with everyone from neighborhood hipsters to beach going families. This Brooklyn summer season staple has rebuilt post-Hurricane Sandy only gaining a stronger following of foodie fans. It may be the beginning of fall, but these delicious tacos deserved to be enjoyed year round.
Sarah Shaker is the founder of the blog Bright Lights, My City.