The NY Times Dining Section has been publishing a ton of fantastic taco coverage in the past few days—we assume this is leading up to National Taco Day on October 4th.
First up, Pete Wells offered readers a look at the influx of sit-down, high end taco spots around the city. These include the 250 seat La Cenita which just opened in the meatpacking district, April Bloomfield’s Salvation Taco in Midtown, Alex Stupak’s Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina, and Dan Kluger’s ABC Cocina, among others. But Wells says that despite their abundance, this is not a great moment for NYC tacos—it is a sad and sorry one.
“All the worst tacos I’ve eaten, and only a handful of the best, have come from New York restaurant kitchens,” claims Pete. The reason, he figures, is the time it takes the taco to get from the line cook to the restaurant patron. Mr. Stupak’s solution to this problem: flour instead of corn tortillas, because they are more forgiving. Read Wells’ reasoning why the hole-in-the-wall taqueria is simply better.
David Tanis spins off Wells’ argument and writes about “The Unstuffy Taco,” which you are meant to eat as soon as it has been assembled. “It’s all about immediacy, devouring it while it is still in prime shape. That’s why some of the best tacos often come from a roving truck, or a similarly diminutive kitchen. There’s no delay.” He offers recipes for tacos you can make at home, including pork and green chile tacos and black bean and poblano tacos. “The choice of tortilla is especially important. I’m not suggesting you make your own (though you could), but it’s a good idea to buy high-quality tortillas. Most Latino groceries have them freshly made, often still warm in the package,” he advises.
Julia Moskin digs into the history of masa—that Latin American cornerstone that is the base for corn tortillas, tamales, gorditas, sopes, tlacoyos (the list goes on forever). Moskin discusses the process of “nixtamalization,” which is how great tacos are born. “Nixtamalized corn smells like rain on hot pavement,” says Maricel Presilla, the author of Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America.
Ligaya Mishan’s story, “New York, All Wrapped Up in a Tortilla,” sparked some controversy among L.A. chefs. In the roundup of NYC’s best tacos, Mishan states, “New York has great tacos, tacos that can go mano a mano with the best of Los Angeles. That city may have us outnumbered, but not outgunned.” And here is Kogi chef Roy Choi’s reaction to Mishan’s bold statement:
[via The New York Times]
Related: The 10 Best Tacos in NYC