20 May MAPPETITE MEAL MINDER: TAQUERIA 101

There’s lots of bad Tex/Cal Mex food out there. We’ve been trying to figure out why these quasi taquerias do so well, even with sub par food offerings.

YOU GO FOR BAD TEX/CAL-MEX BECAUSE (SEE ANSWERS BELOW):

a.) you easily confuse food with pig slop;

b.) you just don’t know any better;

c.) you’re very hungry and there’s a taqueria close at hand;

d.) margaritas are more important to you than good food; and,

e.) all of the above, or any combination thereof.

Three exceptional standouts to avoiding a Tex/Mex mishap: DOS TOROS, TORTILLERIA NIXTAMAL & CASCABEL

Here’s what you need to know:

DOS TOROS TAQUERIA, two brothers from San Francisco dissatisfied with NYC taco offerings bring us a topnotch taqueria nearby to Union Square. The tight menu of tacos, burritos and quesadillas are worthy of the wait.

(Warning: unless you’re planning for takeaway they might be a  a bit of a struggle for a table  – come June 2011 they’ll be a new larger joint on Carmine Street in the West Village.)  The great locale means your a stone’s throw away from things to do and see in the East Village, West Village and Union Square. 137 4th Avenue, NYC, (212) 677-7300, www.dostoros.com.$

TORTILLERIA NIXTAMAL, is a Corona Queens import and a prime stop for masa, the corn base dough that’s in any tortilla worth its beans in NYC. It’s also a taqueria offering tasty tacos and tamales in Corona and now at a kiosk in City Hall Park. So, sit down-ah-so close to the Brooklyn Bridge and have a gander at some real grand architecture of the civic center with partaking on some superior Mexican eats. City Hall Park. Outdoor seating. www.tortillerianixtamal.com. $

CASCABEL TAQUERIA, one thing we’re not happy about with this spot is the distant locale. 2nd Avenue and 80th Street doesn’t bode well for a visit unless you live in the area. Even if you’re having a museum or shopping moment over on 5th & Madison Avenues. it’s quite an uneventful hike into this residential no-man’s land that’s a big zero in must-visit NYC neighborhoods. Also, the new space’s feels-like-TGI-Friday’s is a big step down from the kitchen industrial-meets-arty charms of the original. For some reason if you do find yourself nearby swing in for exceptional tacos and sides. 301 East 80th St (at 2nd Ave) www.nyctacos.com.$-$$

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