Miss Geolouxy volunteered her services to accompany me for my second search for a good taco. It was after work so we decided to meet at Astor Place and work our way up and down First and Second Avenues from 1st to 10th Streets. I didn’t bring a list of places since the east side is not my territory, but I had a map to keep us from making a wrong turn towards the no-number streets. (That’s for another day.)
The area around St. Marks Place has always been the place to get a bowl of soba noodles early in the day, a sterling silver stud for your ear at lunch, a tattoo in the afternoon, a pair of socks from the Sock Man afterwards and a chicken gizzard yakitori with a bottle of Sapporo for dinner, all in one day. While you can still get all those today, you’d have to fight your way to get through the crowds stopping by chickpea, the falafel place in the corner, Chipotle, Grand Sichuan and soon enough Bamn!, a shop full of vending machines off Second Avenue. The neighborhood has indeed changed.
We learned early that it would be hard to keep our budget of $3 for each taco. The downtown locations come with an extra price hike. Unlike the tacos uptown, the second tortilla is wrapped around the first so that they look like burritos, perhaps it’s because people are on the go downtown. I also found it interesting that none of our tacos came in half-moon shapes.
San Loco Mexico, 124 Second Avenue off St. Marks Place, 212/260.7948
The guys at the bar wouldn’t get up from watching their baseball game to let two ladies sit and eat, but at least the catfish taco was good enough to make us stay. The fish is breaded and deep-fried and it was crispy and hot enough to make everything all right. The shredded pork was equally tasty and succulent. The two tacos cost us a little less than $7.
Puebla Mexican Food and Coffee, 47 First Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets, 212/473.6643
The chorizo taco was just all about salty goodness here. We loved the cilantro and the lime juice, plus the tortilla had a different texture than what I was used to. My favorite out of the four even at $5.25.
Downtown Bakery, 69 First Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, 212/254.1757
The guava jelly roll is a plus but we weren’t there to rate their pastries so we stuck with the chorizo taco that came with avocado. Instead of ground pork, this was sausage cut up in smaller pieces. The tortilla seemed to taste more real here, too. They serve two tacos for $6 but they were nice enough to sell us only one to share.
Paquito’s, 143 First Avenue between St. Marks Place and 9th Street, 212/674.2071
We ordered the beef taco this time for $2.50. It was a little bit chewy but the good salsa that came with it was pretty tasty. Their “Real Mexican Style” taco was more substantial than the others. Their red blinking sign gave me a headache while we waited for our order, so if I have to return, I’d check out their restaurant next door.
We only had a couple of hours–we opted for a manicure first, of course–so we ended up only hitting four spots but what good spots they were!