The Best Tacos In NYC guide image

NYCGuide

The Best Tacos In NYC

Where to eat exceptional birria, unforgettable suadero, and fish tacos that rival the ones on the West Coast.

At this point, to claim that NYC isn’t a taco town would be as cliché as saying New York is just a rat race full of very rude rats. It would also be incorrect (though we have seen actual rats in a race). You can find some really great tacos all over the city, whether they’re glossy birria tacos from a truck underneath some subway tracks or Taco Bell breakfast taco doppelgängers you can only get one day a week.

THE SPOTS

Taqueria Ramirez review image
9.1

Taqueria Ramirez

$$$$

94 Franklin St, New York
Earn 3X Points

The best tacos in the city are in Greenpoint, and if you disagree, you better have a specific place in mind that you think is better. That way, we can tell you, “We’ve been there, and you’re wrong.”  When you get to Taqueria Ramirez, you’ll see a choricera and comal (both custom made in Mexico City), colorful plates, and a long line. Don’t worry, the line moves quickly. Get the suadero—which is stewed in lard and spices for three hours and served in a fat-soaked corn tortilla—or order our favorite taco, the tripa, which is blowtorched seconds before it arrives in your hands. Every taco costs around $4 or $5, and, after you stop by, you’ll forever view every $20 bill as an opportunity to get a four or five-course dinner here.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Los Tacos No. 1 imageoverride image
8.5

Los Tacos No. 1

This Tijuana-style taco shop started in Chelsea Market in 2013, and you’ll still consistently find lines here any time you go. But now they also have locations all around Manhattan—including a very useful spot near Grand Central and one near Times Square. Your choices are: marinated pork, steak, chicken, or cactus, on flour or corn tortillas. We opt for carne asada, adobada, or nopal tacos with all the fixings, but you really can’t make a bad decision here. The key, though, is to load up on the salsas at the bar before you dig in.

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If you want to eat the best fish tacos in NYC, you're going to have to get out of Manhattan and hit Rockaway Beach, where you’ll find a restaurant called Tacoway Beach inside of a surf club. Flaky tilapia is heavily battered, fried, and served super crispy in a corn tortilla with slaw, crema, radishes, and lime. We recommend ordering all of your tacos "deluxe" with just the right amount of guacamole on top. While we don't necessarily suggest doing anything other than ordering as many fish tacos as your body can handle, the chorizo and tofu tacos are solid too.

Yellow Rose’s tortillas are integral to most of the short, squiggly-font menu. These discs are chewy, blistered, supple, and buttery (though they shockingly don’t contain any lard or animal fat), and you should enjoy them in the form of a couple of tacos. Other than the bean and cheese, our favorites are the papas rancheras and the carne guisada. The components at play may seem straightforward, but the textures will convince you to come back for more.

Taqueria Al Pastor consistently makes some of our favorite tacos in Bushwick. You should, of course, order at least one of the titular al pastor variety. It’ll come piled with strips of crispy marinated pork and cubed pineapple, and a single hefty taco will make for a respectable snack. The sneaky truth of Taqueria Al Pastor, though, is that their carne asada tastes even better than their pork. Chunks of garlicky grilled beef are blanketed by a generous slap of guacamole on a sturdy housemade corn tortilla. Stop by this casual spot in Bushwick for what’s likely to be the best 10 minutes of your day. 

Everything at Los Mariscos, from the people behind Los Tacos No. 1, tastes like it was caught from an ocean five minutes ago. Your taco options are shrimp, spicy shrimp, and, our favorite, fried battered fish. The whole operation is casual and efficient, and unlike Los Tacos No. 1—which feels like it’s in a food court—you can comfortably hang out at Los Mariscos for multiple rounds of beers and tacos.

Tacos El Bronco operates two trucks and a brick-and-mortar location in Sunset Park. At each spot, the menu has almost as many potential moves as a game of chess, but stick to the tacos. The al pastor is a must-order, but the best option is the campechanos, which includes salty beef, pork sausage, and crispy pork skin. We also highly endorse the beef birria. The tortillas stay remarkably crispy, despite being coated in a layer of rich beef drippings before they’re filled with hunks of meat that disintegrate when provoked.

You’ll be able to sense the power of Taco Mix just from watching the glistening trompo of marinated pork. Even though there are several TV screens with different menu options, your focus at this East Harlem spot should be al pastor tacos. They’re tiny, sweet, peppery, and garnished with never-too-much onions and cilantro. These are the best al pastor tacos in the city, and you deserve at least four of them.

Birria-Landia makes the city’s best birria, full stop. This Tijuana-style spot certainly didn’t invent birria, and it definitely wasn’t the first NYC place serving it—but this place gave birria the headliner status it always deserved. The menu is tight, focused, and flawless. Order a few of the tacos on broth-dipped tortillas, and dunk them into a cup of the mysteriously rich consome. First, you’ll taste lime, then tender meat, then adobo, then dripping fat, with everything melting together in your unworthy mouth.

Tacos árabes are the predecessors to the ever-popular tacos al pastor, and Don Pepe Jugos y Tortas is the place to get them. The menu is a bit chaotic, with handwritten neon signs plastered over every available bit of wall tempting you to try some torta, juice, or taco—but try to stay focused. The tacos árabes here are richly spiced with cumin, sweetened with bits of pineapple, and served in little flour tortillas. They’re worth making a trip for. Bring a friend and grab a torta and some juices while you’re at it. 

There's vegan food that tastes great *for vegan food* and then there's great food that just happens to be vegan. Jajaja falls into the second category, and we especially love their tacos. You’ll find all of your favorite here, from birria to chorizo and crispy fish, except they’ve all been given the plants-only treatment, offering a take that feels both familiar and innovative all at once. You might read the phrase "chipotle almond butter" and wonder whether that belongs on a faux fish taco. Trust us, it does.

photo credit: Max Flatow

Casa Carmen review image

Casa Carmen

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Casa Carmen in Tribeca has some of the more fancy tacos on this list. At $16-$19 for two, they’re pricey, but quite large, and all of them come piled with so much filling that it’s challenging to close them. The ones with huge slabs of tender and juicy beef tongue are the best lengua tacos we’ve ever had, and we're also fans of the tacos with sautéed octopus, refried black beans, and epazote.

Tacos are nothing without a killer tortilla, and this spot (with locations in Bed-Stuy and Williamsburg) is obsessed with making the perfect ones. The housemade heirloom corn tortillas come in colors like blue, purple, and red—each type a different shape with its own unique taste. You can enjoy them all day in (mostly vegan) dishes like the tetela trio and the mezcal mushroom tlayudita, or you can swing by at night and eat some tacos, like the ones with black beans and avocado.

Imagine a Taco Bell breakfast taco, but made entirely from high-quality ingredients. The double decker breakfast tacos at The Blue Light Speak Cheesy start with two handmade tortillas: one corn, one flour, welded together with a layer of cheesy refried beans. The outside of the shell is shellacked with griddled cheese. Inside, fluffy eggs meld with even more cheese, soyrizo, fresh herbs, radish, and avocado. Every bite contains at least five unique textures, which is what really sets this taco apart not only from other NYC tacos, both breakfast and otherwise. Plan ahead, because they’re only available on Wednesdays. 

You’ll see a constant flow of people coming and going at this tiny cash-only Mexican spot in Sunset Park. When a place makes fantastic $3 tacos, humans will flock there. Our favorites are the ones with tender and crispy carnitas and the lengua tacos with diced chunks of charred tongue. Most of their tacos come on two lightly grilled tortillas with raw onions, cilantro, and an avocado sauce. Speaking of sauces, the green and orange ones here are great, so be sure to ask for extra.

The tacos at this spot in Sunset Park are a little smaller than at other restaurants in the area, but they’re a great deal at $2 each. All are really tasty, but we especially like the ones with tiny bits of peppery steak and crunchy strips of salted beef. The grilled tortillas have just the right amount of crunch, and the fresh avocado chunks are a nice touch.

Everything is made fresh to order at this tiny restaurant tucked in the back of a Bushwick bodega. Order the tinga con todo and watch as the women in the back mash avocados for guac while freshly-pressed tortillas bubble up on the griddle. These tacos are so chock full of fillings, they’re almost a fork-and-knife job. We recommend grabbing an outdoor table in their backyard and settling down to give these tacos your full attention. 

There are a lot of birria tacos in NYC, and many of them are enormous. At Plaza Ortega, though, you can easily down a trio of two-bite birria tacos and a cup of consomme while leaving plenty of room to sample the rest of the menu. We also love their gringas al pastor, amped up with the addition of griddled cheese. Everything has a nice buzzy heat that pairs well with Plaza Ortega’s excellent mangonadas.

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