Best Mexican food of 2013: Tacos, quesadillas and more

New Yorkers can satisfy cravings for piquant South of the Border fare with the best Mexican food we sampled in 2013.


There’s plenty of good Mexican food to be had in New York City. For delectable South of the Border fare, look no further than local joints like El Toro Blanco in the West Village and Country Boys Restaurant in Park Slope. Check out the best Mexican dishes of the year.

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  • Photograph: Dominic Perri

    Chorizo queso fundido at El Toro Blanco

    Chef Josh Capon’s riff on the Mexican classic begins with four cheeses: Oaxaca and quesadilla to lend milky richness, Manchego for nuttiness and cheddarlike Chihuahua to bring them all together. In a cast-iron skillet, the quartet melts into a gooey mess with a touch of cream, roasted poblano peppers, onions and tomatoes before taking a ride under the broiler to bubble and brown. Spicy crumbled pork sausage from Brooklyn’s Mi Barrio Tortilleria, chunks of fried salt-and-pepper baby potato and zesty pico de gallo complete the addictive spread. Smear a heaping spoonful of the salty-spicy dip onto a warm flour tortilla and make sure your cardiologist is on speed dial. 257 Sixth Ave between Bleecker and W Houston Sts (212-645-0193, eltoroblanconyc.com). $14.—Sarah Bruning

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Adobada quesadilla at Los Tacos No. 1

    Layered on a single corn tortilla, this exceptional snack doesn’t look anything like the big-as-your-face varieties we’ve come to know. Here, hand-pressed rounds are slapped on top of griddled cheese, then covered with piquant nuggets of spit-roasted pork and sweet pineapple batons. Diners dress up the delectable mess themselves—go con todo (that’s Spanish for “the works”) with creamy guacamole, onions, cilantro and salsa. Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (212-256-0343, lostacos1.com). $4.—Patty Lee

  • Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

    Braised lamb shoulder dinner at Salvation Taco

    Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield tackle Mexican food with gusto, churning out offbeat specialties like this quirky dish for two, which melds the flavors of Morocco with a loose interpretation of the Mexican taco. A cumin-based dry rub infuses the Colorado lamb shoulder with earthy spice and forms smoky, slightly charred edges as it’s seared a la plancha. The meat then roasts slowly, barbacoa-style inside banana leaves, until it’s fork-tender. Fragrant chickpea-cilantro roti provides an ample cradle for spoonfuls of the tender morsels and their accompaniments of cucumber pico de gallo and house-made crema. 145 E 39th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-865-5800, salvationtaco.com). $38.—Sarah Bruning

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    Chicharrón tacos at Country Boys

    While butchering meat for their spicy pork, the Red Hook Ball Field vets take special care to pare off the fattier bits to deep-fry for their down-home pork rinds. Gussy up the succulent hunks with chopped lettuce, cotija cheese, creamy guac and fresh pico de gallo before drizzling fiery salsa on top. Word to the wise: Two prefab corn tortillas normally serve as the vessel for your meat, but if you ask nicely, they’ll swap them out for the variety made in-house. 568 Fourth Ave at 16th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-452-6079, countryboysfood.weebly.com). $7.—Sarah Bruning

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Foie gras al pastor at Xixa

    Playing off its Jewish-Mexican vibe, Xixa—pronounced “shiksa,” get it?—uses the Tribe’s favorite egg bread for this savory dessert. Two creamy lobes of seared La Belle Farm foie sit stacked atop roasted pineapples and challah torrejas, the sweet and airy Mexican version of French toast. Enlivened with smoked Maldon sea salt, chives, chili-honey and sautéed raisins, the whimsical banter between meaty foie and sugary bread makes this the ideal meal-cap for sweet and savory tooths alike. 241 South 4th St at Havemeyer St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-8860). $14.—Stefanie Tuder

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Chorizo queso fundido at El Toro Blanco

Chef Josh Capon’s riff on the Mexican classic begins with four cheeses: Oaxaca and quesadilla to lend milky richness, Manchego for nuttiness and cheddarlike Chihuahua to bring them all together. In a cast-iron skillet, the quartet melts into a gooey mess with a touch of cream, roasted poblano peppers, onions and tomatoes before taking a ride under the broiler to bubble and brown. Spicy crumbled pork sausage from Brooklyn’s Mi Barrio Tortilleria, chunks of fried salt-and-pepper baby potato and zesty pico de gallo complete the addictive spread. Smear a heaping spoonful of the salty-spicy dip onto a warm flour tortilla and make sure your cardiologist is on speed dial. 257 Sixth Ave between Bleecker and W Houston Sts (212-645-0193, eltoroblanconyc.com). $14.—Sarah Bruning


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