It’s surprisingly hard to find a good, authentic, taco in New York, and it’s even harder to find a good, cheap one. Sorry but $16 for 2 fancy organic tacos with grass fed beef from Japan and handpicked brussels sprouts doesn’t count.
A great taco needs 3 key components:
- A homemade tortilla with a touch of flavor and a texture that is pliable, yet sturdy.
- Tender, juicy, well-seasoned meat (sorry vegetarians… we aren’t catering to you…)
- Pico, lime, cilantro
Guacamole, cheese, hot sauce, and sour cream are delicious, but a 10/10 taco should be able to earn a “that’s amazing” without the add-ons.
We’ve searched New York high and low, uptown and downtown, west and east side, for the best taco, and here are just SOME of the joints we tried out:
- Rosie’s (decent, great tortilla)
- Playa Betty’s (most over rated)
- Tacuba (stick to the margaritas)
- Blockheads (DEFINTELY stick to the margaritas…)
- Taqueria Diana (we’ve had one amazing experienced and 2 so-so ones)
- Tacombi (good, but overpriced)
- Cascabel (not memorable)
- Dos Caminos (pretty good)
- La Chula (tasty, gets the job done)
- Taco Mix (not mad about it)
- Black Ant (good happy hour, see our review)
- Cantina (hit or miss)
Through our taco ventures, we keep coming back to one East Harlem/Upper East Side (depending on who you talk to) joint: El Aguila.
This no frills corner to-go spot has an A+ taco game that is consistently good and blows other places out of the water. We know because we keep going back again and again and are yet to be disappointed.
To start, the corn tortillas are the perfect texture with a subtle flavor to enhance the tacos without distracting from the meat. Speaking of meat, the carnitas is unreal. The pork melts in your mouth without being too fatty, and the edges are perfectly charred, giving a smoky flavor. The runner up is the Al Pastor, which is marinated to perfection, deliciously juicy, and certainly not overcookd.
A basic taco rings in at $3 (HOLY FRUGAL!), and adding pico, cilantro, and lime is just an extra $.75. Adding guacamole and cheese is a bit more, but don’t worry, you definitely don’t need it. Add one of the house made hot sauces to top it off, and you are in for an amazing food experience under $10!
El Aguila is cheap, quick, and tasty, and earns The Frugal Foodies “Best Taco” award…. At least for now…..
As always, stay frugal.