Plaza Ortega  review image

Plaza Ortega


140 Stanhope St, New York
Earn 3X Points

There’s a certain kind of rare restaurant you stumble upon in New York, the kind of place where you want to bring all your friends so you can eat great food and hang out for hours because it feels like your own private club. The kind of place that’s extremely cool precisely because it’s not trying to be cool. Plaza Ortega, a Mexican restaurant slash bodega slash ice cream shop in Bushwick, checks all of these boxes and then some.

We initially found Plaza Ortega on a Bushwick taco crawl (something we highly recommend) and fell in love with their birria combo. There are lots of birria tacos in New York these days, and a lot of them seem designed to be photographed. At Plaza Ortega, all of the food is designed to be eaten.

Plaza Ortega  review image

Here, the tacos are street-sized, the filling tucked into 4-inch tortillas and not overstuffed. The birria is great, but so is the al pastor, the carne asada. Heck, the fish tacos are some of the best we’ve had in New York. If you want to amp things up, you can order them gringa style and they’ll come welded together with a layer of griddled cheese. It’s a very good move, though not the only one. The tortas here are substantial but not overdone; this is a sandwich you can eat while walking without making a mess. The birria ramen uses Nissin Cup Noodles as the base, and we’re pretty sure that’s why it’s so much better than other, flashier birria ramen. 

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All this, and we haven’t even talked about the sweeter stuff. Mangonadas that hit every single taste zone, a tamarind agua fresca that’s like a Pulparindo in liquid form. Creamy paletas and ice cream in flavors like Abuelita and guava and cookie monster. If it sounds like we’re talking about a dream restaurant, it’s because we are. 

There are a few tables outside and a few in the back of this place, along with stools at a long bar that faces a wall-sized mirror offering a glimpse into the kitchen. A TV plays Banda music videos on loop. The ready availability of Modelo tallboys, the cozy, homelike atmosphere, and the endless supply of good food make this an ideal spot for a long catch-up with people you really love.

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Food Rundown

Plaza Ortega  review image

Birria Combo

The first thing we fell in love with at Plaza Ortega: three tiny braised beef tacos and a cup of rich consomme. The meat is well seasoned without being overly salty, and the generous dusting of cilantro and chopped onion brightens things up.

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Birria Ramen

Cup Noodles form the base notes of this dish, then consomme, chilies, and fall-apart braised beef add layers. This is cold-weather comfort food at its peak.

Fish Tacos

A great fish taco is actually kind of hard to find, but these are crispy, creamy, and crunchy from a perfect fry and a generous helping of slaw.

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Gringas Tacos

This is our favorite way to order carne asada or al pastor tacos here. The thick layer of melted cheese adds a certain je ne sais freaking delicious.

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A lot of tortas are so overstuffed with fillings that they become nearly impossible to eat. You can actually take a casual bite of the tortas at Plaza Ortega. They have some wilder options, like the Torta Trailera, which comes with beans, ham, salchicas, eggs, fried potatoes, avocado, and a small garden’s worth of veg. We prefer the simpler al pastor or carnitas options, which are straightforward and delicious.

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What’s better than frozen mango, chamoy, and spicy tamarind candy combined in a giant cup in perfectly balanced ratios? Absolutely nothing. If you come here, get this.

Aguas Frescas

They’re not listed on the menu, so you have to ask. Do yourself a favor and ask, because these are the best aguas frescas we’ve had in New York.

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If you made good choices, you’re probably pretty stuffed full of tacos and such, but you really shouldn’t skip ice cream and paletas here. There’s also a mind-blowing selection of Mexican candy conveniently placed next to the register.

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