Everyone used to complain that there isn’t any good mexican food in New York City:
Did you see me? I was back there behind the campfire yelling, “New York City?!?!?!” Watch it again. And again. Now watch an episode of Scooby Doo and hide your eyes because you’re scared. You have just lived my 7-year-old experience. Congratulations.
I think seeing that commercial on repeat in 1993 primed me to think that New York City didn’t have any good mexican food. Because I used to tell people that all the time. But that is totally wrong — I love Empellon Cocina for fancy pistachio guac and a spicy pineapple margarita that is just somehow a million times more delicious than any other spicy margaritas. And I really like Tacombi for fancy tacos in a fake garage, because sometimes it’s fun to buy over-priced tacos with play money from a fake food truck. And I love Mayahuel for fancy tequila cocktails and surprisingly delicious small plates. You might see a trend developing here. Manhattan does have good mexican food, but that shit is fancy. (Also, if you’re just generally looking for restaurants in NYC, my Leighto Greato recommends page has a whole list, and you can find it here.)
But Tacos Morelos is good and it’s not fancy. And it’s also cheap. The Boyfriend and I have hit up their taco cart on Avenue A and 2nd Street for years — it’s my go-to when I am bebopping around the neighborhood and starving, but don’t want to totally fill up. One carnitas taco, with onion and cilantro and a wedge of lime, makes a phenomenal snack. So I was in taco heaven when they finally opened a brick-and-mortar on 9th Street. The place is tiny — they have, like, 6 tables. But they also have killer tacos. And I am comfortable listing my favorites because the first time we went, the Boyfriend ordered one of each. Yes, we got 12 tacos. For two people. We rolled home. My favorites were:
- roasted pork
- chorizo (spicy pork sausage)
- suadero (tender chopped beef) and
- cochinita pivil (stewed pork)
Except for the size, Tacos Morelos doesn’t feel like it belongs in Manhattan. It’s just so casual, with huge over-sized wooden tables, no decor, a big, cheap menu, delicious tacos, no wait for a table, no matter what time we arrive, and friendly service. They don’t have any fancy up-sells either — for example, they don’t do fancy $12 margaritas, just beer and wine (and who would have a glass of wine with a taco when there is cold Dos Equis around?). So if you’re looking for a fancy meal, skip Tacos Morelos. But if you’re looking for a dang good taco, it’s right here in New York City (?!??!?!?!).
What we’ll get again: chips and salsa and every taco on the menu (but we’ll never skip the roasted pork, chorizo, suadero or cochinita pivil)
438 E. 9th Street (at Avenue A)