Friday, April 3, 2009


( this is a photo of me suffering through yet ANOTHER shitty Mexican food experience in NYC)

It's time to address this bad joke.

The Mexican food here is disheartening to say the least. I wander the streets longingly peering into windows searching for tacos garnished with lime, cilantro and diced onion. I bow my head and continue to scuffle down the street in the pouring rain. It's been 3 years of this sad, sad life I live after being the self proclaimed Taco Queen of Chicago. I didn't know my legacy would come to such a brutal halt in the city that never sleeps and also apparently is reallllllly mixed up about how to make some palatable verde.

My first experience was at a little shithole called San Loco on NY's lower east side. Oh, my, GOD. I have had better Central American food in AMSTERDAM and that place would put mayonnaise on a shoe and serve it to you because everyone is higher than balls.

I recall walking into San Loco with new friends after living in NYC for about 2 weeks. I was like---"Hey---I love to eat as much Mexican food as possible---do you know a delicious place we could go to?" and soon to be terminated friends were like, "hell yeah---San Loco!"

I knew something was wrong when there was a lanky, greasy haired twenty-something in a super tight, Bad Finger t-shirt taking orders. He was not pleased to serve me and was none too accomodating when I asked if they could make an avocado tostada. I craned my neck to look back into the kitchen and it was staffed with more extras from the film Blow Up. I knew this was going to be sub par, but how sub par, I couldn't have readied myself for.

While we were waiting, we were given a basket of chips and what seemed to be a cough syrup cup filled with pickles and something full of hot vinegar ass nuggets. They may have been trying to pass it off as salsa. I am a salsa fiend. I will mow down a basket of tortilla chips quicker than you can say "dia de los muertos" if there is good salsa involved--the perfect amount of soupiness, onion, cilantro, and heat are all I need to gorge myself silly.

You can usually tell how much of a let down a place is going to be based on the chips and salsa they drop off on the table, or gasp, the lack of free chips and salsa all together.

I was at a place called Blockheads which is a newfangled "mexican restaurant" that's "FUN!" and has high energy and a fast pace and alot of tofu options for VEGANS who want to enjoy themselves too. Uh-uh. No. Their chips and salsa though bottomless, was pretttttty gross. So much so, that I could only bring myself to polish off 2 bowls by myself. It was the kind of salsa that you buy at a gas station----where the choices are either Pace or Tostitos brand which we all know tastes like spicy, chunky ketchup. The chips were overly salted and bordering on stale because of their shelf-life of 3 years.

I went with a plate of rice and beans because the options for tacos, burritos, or platters were so ridiculously overpriced to put anything on them that I just couldn't bring myself to spend 12 dollars on a burrito that was undoubtedly going to be a nightmare.

I hate menus that try and act like they're your peppy, helpful friend and that you're a retard. If you're going to literally write stuff on a menu like, "Allright!You're almost done making a combo platter. Choose 2 more of these shitty toppings for no charge, but if you want any of the typical ingredients that would normally constitute the food item you ordered, you're gonna have to pay out the ass for that!"

Tacos---the way you like 'em! $7.50
Choose your first 2 ingredients for no extra charge: Tortilla or a Plate
For $5 more, add lettuce and tomatoes!
Meat eater? No Problem. Choose boiled Chicken or Beef from a bag for an additional $3!
We've got the cheese! Choose pepperjack or Parmesan for an Italian Taco! $2 each!

That's right, only $17.50 for tacos with alllllllllll the fixins!

It's far less embarrassing to just point at a picture of food.

Blockheads and San Loco makes me so mad that I literally want to throw a brick through their stupid windows.

Almost as mad as the time I was duped into grabbing something to eat from Brooklyn's own Yummy Taco which I refer to as Great Wall Taco or Crummy Taco. Before I could totally process the fact that the person taking my order was Asian American and the whole staff was sitting behind the counter eating lo-mein, I had ordered a guacamole taco and a chorizo taco.

Before I sat down, the tacos were ready. I walked up to the counter to grab my tray with the foil wrapped ticking time bombs and bit into what tasted like Naan or Parata bread stuffed with super fake sausage that you would find on a Stouffer's french bread pizza. I set that down and bit into my "guacamole" taco which was grey-ish in color. I couldn't eat it although I will admit to choking down the chorizo taco. I pretended it was lamb vindaloo. My brain could sort of process that a little more than believing it was a taco. I walked out of there disappointed and per usual, infuriated.

I don't get it. Hipsters and Asian-Americans are running the taco joints making a mockery of Mexican food, Latinos are serving up Middle Eastern food that's totally gross and off the mark and Arab-Americans are running bodegas and selling stale bagels and croissanwiches. I am not mad at these groups in particular, it's just yet another trend of bad food in NYC. Can we be a melting pot in different ways please?

I am just here to say, No more MOCKERIAS!!!!!

As it stands, these are the only places I have had honest to goodness authentic tacos, tostadas, burritos, tortas and sopes:

*The Taco Truck that parks on 14th street and 8th Avenue is fantastic
*Sunset Park---it's a really Southern part of Brooklyn where Spanish is a first language
*5th Ave. and 21st in South Park Slope, there's a little Mexican bakery and in the back they crank out killer tacos and tortas, everything grilled to order.

As for Tex-Mex that's tasty, I love the fish tacos at Snack Dragon on 3rd street and Avenue B in Manhattan, Pacifico on Smith and Pacific in Boerum Hill Brooklyn, and Alma in Red Hook which is more of a fusion, upscale type of retaurant.

Please feel free to post some places you might know of that know how to appropriately garnish a taco with lime, cilantro and onion.
And please feel free to post a warning against a place that is infuriatingly bad.

Until then, good luck out there eating Crunchy Orange Chicken Tacos. Actually, that sounds delicious.....


ashley said...

this is so surreal. i live in southern california where there is more mexican food places that anything else. it would be paradise for you.

Geli Girl said...

Hi Brooke,

Reading your blog makes me miss living in the city so much. This especially made me miss Chicago late night tacos. (My sister took me to some place called Pancho Villa--and I was freaked out over the prices and made me miss Chicago even more and the hispanic families I used to work with.) Moving back to Michigan because of my health problems is driving me crazy really. Plus, I am so used to the lifestyle and drinking that I did in Chicago and the people I choose to drink with. People think I am a totally weirdo here. I'll be visiting NYC in the middle of May.


Jeremy Harris Photography said...

Being from San Francisco which has so many good taquerias you could easily toss a rock and hit one no problem, I as well was disappointed at the mexican food in NYC. Not only is it crappy but $10 for a burrito?
There's two places I recommend though:

This place in the East Village that claims to have "San Francisco Style" burritos (they are not) has really good fish tacos and chips.

And La Superior on Berry St in Brooklyn. This place rocks! Small, not too crowded with hipsters, super good quality food at a decent price.