Wednesday, February 29th, 2012...12:09 am

12th Street Tacos

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Despite formal classroom training, Dora the Explorer and Telemundo Futbol, I’m severely deficient in my ability to effectively communicate in Spanish. Yet my gastronomic penchant for Mexican cuisine continues to be more sophisticated. Luckily, I do not reside in Mexico or I would most certainly be gordo estupido. But I do live on 12th street, which is fast becoming the Mexican food barrio within New York City.

Before I break it all down for you let me give you a quick history of east coast Mexican food in my lifetime. In the 80’s and 90’s there was Taco Bell. Ask a New Yorker about Mexican food and they would naturally think of this marvelously cheap and tasty fast food joint with the trademark fadobe (fake adobe) clay roof. Taco Bell was actually considered luxurious compared to the typical neighborhood Mexican food joint. The duel risk of being mugged in the bathroom or, worse yet, you mugging the toilet made the experience muy peligroso. Around the turn of the century, the amazing marketers at McDonald’s reinvented Mexican food through the Chipotle restaurant chain as clean, healthy, natural, doughy, tasteless burrito stations. People went loco and loved it.

During this time a young and untested Littyhoops was looking to find himself en el mundo and was drawn to the cool ocean breezes of the San Diego shoreline. San Diego so happens to have the best Mexican food in all the world and Senor Littyhoops quickly became a taco connoisseur. NYC might be the foodie capital of the world, but when it comes to Mexican it falls a bit short. Southern California long ago mastered the fish taco, burrito stand, california burrito (with fries!), and adding guacamole to anything and everything.

When I moved to the village a few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to be living across the street from a great Mexican joint in Mexicana Mama. Last year a delicious burrito takeout place called Dos Toros opened a few blocks away. Suddenly, in the last month two more Mexican restaurants have set up shop. Tortoria is on the corner of 12th and University and Dorado is right around the corner.

Without further ado the first ever 12th Street Littyhoops Mexican Food Rankings

#1 – Dorado
Kudos to Dorado for putting Baja style fish tacos front and center on their menu. No other Mexican spot in NYC has the guts to go for it. They are delicious! Both the fried and grilled fish tacos are winners. Quesadillas are also muy bueno. Salsa and guacamole hit the spot also. You can grab a table or quickly take out. Either way, get delicious cheap Mexican in a few minutes and send your taste buds straight to Ensenada.

#2 – Dos Toros
This is what Chipotle should taste like if Chipotle food matched it’s marketing. Fresh and tasty, it’s a fitting burrito for a real man or a gordo estupido! NY Times gives it some love in this food review.

#3 – Mexicana Mama
A bit more upscale Mexicana Mama is more of a sit down restaurant. Great salsa’s, good soups and they also do a nice job with fish tacos.

#4 – Tortaria
Can’t yet figure out if this place is gimmicky or legit. Have tried it twice and still haven’t made up my mind. The restaurant features torta sandwiches and a little dude making non-stop guacamole.

#5 – (Last Place) Qdoba
This is actually on the corner of 13th and University. Never go there.

Epilogue #1 – If you happen to find yourself in Pacific Beach my favorite Mexican restaurants are Fred’s, Taco Surf and Gringos. I also seem to go to South Beach in Ocean Beach with Jen and/or Marni every time I go back to visit. Wait, did everyone get that? No not the food recommendation. The fact that Marni and Jen made the cut and are starring in this blog post! Please congratulate them!

Taco Surf on PB Drive

Epilogue #2 – Would love to hear your favorite Mexican spots in NYC. Some of the other restaurants I like are Baby Bo’s Cantina, Canyon Road, Diablo Royale, El Chozo, Fonda Nolita. Been meaning to hit up Mole but generally I try to steer clear of the classy Mexican joints like Dos Caminos, Rosa Mexicana and La Esquina.

Epilgoue #3 – I went to Wahoo’s for dinner last week. Yes, you Left Coasters read that right. The first Wahoo’s on the east coast opened up in NYC and I pass it on my way home from work. Had to try it. They made it all fancy with a cool bar but it’s still just Wahoo’s (a second rate fast food fish taco spot). Just not that appetizing.

  • Jennifer

    I feel so important when you mention me and it’s been awhile and I like to take credit for all things Bueno in your life. Southbeach cannot be beat – went there Saturday with the crew because marni and Nancy were in San diego! Never dissapoints