I was inspired by Lawrence of NYC Food Guy who did a taco tour early last spring to do a tour of my own. It took a while to reserve a day, but I finally got a group of about 10 people together at the end of August to feast on taco’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The plan was to start off in Brooklyn by hitting up 3 of the places in Sunset Park that NYC Food Guy, then follow it up with Taqueria Los Hermanos in Bushwick, and then wrap it up in Queens at Tortilla Nixtamal in Corona. I was especially excited about the last two because they actually made their own masa in house which means their tortillas should all be super fresh and taste fantastic. Additionally, I had gotten a tip that the No Reservations show had recently filmed at Los Hermanos and the episode was going to air in a couple weeks.
The three we started with in Sunset Park were Tulcingo Restaurant & Bakery, Tacos Matamoros, and ended at Tacos Xochimilco before getting back on the subway.
The thing I was most looking forward to at Tulcingo was the tacos arabes and the barbacoa (goat), but sadly, by the time I got there they were out of both. So instead I settled on the carne asada, which was pretty good and came with a nice serving of guacamole which I love in a steak taco. One of my friends got one of the pricier seafood soups which I unfortunately didn’t get to try but looked amazing with a whole crab in there. It was around $12 for giant bowl of seafood so I would like to try that again when I go back.
I had actually been to Tacos Matamoros before for a special organized group dinner when they slow braised a big piece of goat for us. This time I tried their chorizo taco and their al pastor. Both were pretty good and I had a tough time deciding my favorite. The real thing that set this place apart though were their tortillas which were a toasted a bit. Everyone at the end decided they liked the tortillas the best here.
Our last stop before leaving Sunset Park was Tacos Xochimilco based on the stellar review Lawrence gave of their sandwich, the Pambazo.
Refried beans, spicy pork, cubes of spicy, soft potato, sharp queso fresca, and lettuce are all wedged between two halves of a club roll that is then painted with red sauce and pressed to create a spicy and sticky outer coating of deliciousness. Intense, and unlike any sandwich I’ve ever seen before or since. Chaos between two pieces of bread finds order upon reaching your taste buds, new flavors and textures abound with every bite. It’s the everlasting gobstopper of Mexican sandwiches.
This probably where we differ the most. We got about 4-5 sandwiches between the 8-10 of us and it was generally the consensus that this was a terrible sandwich ignoring the hype that surrounded it after reading the review quoted above. I think ours was severely lacking in the spicy pork which might have had a big part of why most of us were disappointed. Ours ended up being slightly spiced & greasy potato with some fillings wrapped by bread that was covered in sauce. I think if you had put something else in that sandwich besides potatoes it would have been great, but the way it was given to us I don’t see any reason to waste any more space in my stomach for that. There are plenty of other tastiness to try out.
Our next stop was in Bushwick at Tortilleria Los Hermanos. I loved the setting of the place. Most of their property is an actual factory. They have some seating inside their small kitchen area where you order food and they cook stuff besides tortillas, but their big table is actually in their warehouse (which is connected) where you have a view of machinery and they might actually make some tortillas while you are there. Sadly, I was pretty disappointed by their corn tortillas (which is what they make mostly). They seemed to have some weird bitter flavor. Their fillings were good and their red salsa was awesome though. A nice spicy kick from all the dried peppers that went into it. Regardless, unless I happen to be in Bushwick, there isn’t really much of a reason for me to go back and I actually go out of my way not to buy their brand of taco’s when I shop at my local mexican grocer in my neighborhood.
Our last stop was out in Queens and by the time we got there our group size had shriveled from about 12 down to 7. It was also about 7 hours later so unless you had nothing else better to do that day it was totally understandable.
Anyhow, we were all quite happy by the time we got out there and it ended up being one of my and the rest of the group’s favorites. We shared an order each of all of their tamales (except for the chicken & cheese one which seemed rather boring) including the rather inventive one, “The Italian”, which came with roasted pepper, mozzarella cheese, and italian sausage. While the fillings sound really good on their own, I was skeptical about whether they would work wrapped up in corn masa. I, and just about everyone else, where all happily surprised with this one. It was amazing and totally unique. If you go out there, you should definitely try this out. The other tamales are also great and worth eating too. I couldn’t really recommend one over the other because they all have different flavors so its really up to you. but I would at least get one of the Italian Tamales for the table to share.
We also got an order of the fish taco which i believe is made from a skate wing. This was also really good and totally what I expected. While the fish and most of the fillings were pretty standard, it was the white sauce and the great tortilla that sealed the deal on this. This gets my “San Diegan Stamp of Approval”, which I just invented right now.
In the end, the general favorites for the day were Tortilleria Nixtamal and either of the first two in Sunset Park. Sunset Park is probably better for a field trip though because there are so many other options and diversions while you are there since it seems as though there is a strong Hispanic community there.
Tulcingo Restaurant & Bakery
5520 5th Avenue b/t 55th & 56th street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
4508 Fifth Avenue b/t 45th & 46th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
4501 5th Avenue at 45th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos
271 Starr Street
(between Wyckoff Ave & St Nicholas Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11237
10405 47th Ave
Corona, NY 11368