New York City has stepped up its taco game in recent years with both high-end and low-end restaurants specializing in the favorite Mexican dish. Chefs are packing tortillas with inventive, flavorful ingredients for an ultimate culinary experience. And word is that the best tacos in NYC are now good enough to rival anything you’ll find in California. Whether you’re looking for a cheap and tasty meal or a willing to throw down on a pricey (but totally worth it) feast, try these spots.
Here’s Where to Find Some of the Best Tacos in NYC
Cosmé, 35 E 21 St
The next time you want to reward yourself with an expensive dinner out, make a reservation at Cosmé. Esteemed chefs Enrique Olvera and Daniel Soto-Ines have won the gastronomic hearts of taco lovers with the duck carnitas. The dish costs $89 but is shareable – though we wouldn’t judge if you order it all for yourself. What makes this taco so exceptionally delicious is the preparation process, which includes being cooked in milk (evaporated and condensed) and Mexican Coke!
Los Tacos No. 1, 75 9th Ave
Located in Chelsea Market, Los Tacos No. 1 serves up authentic Mexican tacos at a very affordable $3.50. With only four types – steak, chicken, pork, and grilled cactus, the tacos here are no frills but packed with flavor. We suggest the adobada made of red chili-marinated pork topped off with a little pineapple and squirt of lime. The mouthwatering filling is served on your choice of a corn or flour tortilla made in-house. If you find yourself passing through Times Square, check out this taco haven’s second location.
Tacombi, 267 Elizabeth St
Tacombi once operated out of a VW Van parked on Playa del Carmen, cooking up tacos to tourists and locals alike. A couple of years later, Tacombi relocated to Elizabeth St. in Nolita and opened up its first restaurant. The atmosphere here is chill and welcoming, echoing the Mexican beach vibe where it all began. Committed to fresh and sustainable ingredients, Tacombi sources from local fisherman and farmers. The menu’s star is the Baja crispy fish taco made with local fluke that’s been beer battered and fried, placed on the signature Vista Hermosa flour tortilla and topped off with poblano mayo and spicy pickled cabbage.
Empellón Al Pastor, 132 St. Marks Place
The name says it all. Chef and Empellón founder Alex Stupak opened his East Village location with one goal in mind – to dish out the best al pastor in town. We suggest starting out with an order of chips and guacamole for the table. Then move onto the main feature, which is made of marinated pork shoulder that has been sliced straight off the rotisserie and placed on a freshly made tortilla. Next come the little slices of pineapple, green and red salsa, and a sprinkling of cilantro and onion. Enjoyed with a signature margarita or cold cerveza.
Tacos Morelos, 438 E 9th St
Our last top pick is a Tacos Morelos, a mini-chain that serves up authentic, cheap fare that hits all the right marks when it comes to satisfying that taco craving that just won’t quit. The brick-and-mortar location is on Ninth Street where the focus is on food and not ambiance – the small space is decked out in wooden benches and doesn’t have a bathroom. Fresh and flavorful, every taco makes the grade and is served on a warm tortilla with onion, cilantro, and choice of sauces. We are particularly fond of the beef barbacoa. There’s also a Tacos Morelos Shop in Jackson Heights and food trucks in Williamsburg and the East Village.
Where do you go for the best tacos in NYC?