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Rosie's Tacos
Photograph: Courtesy Sasithon Pooviriyakul

The 26 best tacos in NYC

The best tacos NYC has to offer include tried-and-true al pastor fold-ups and an off the menu deep-fried creation

Written by
Christina Izzo
&
Rheanna O鈥橬eil Bellomo
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Los Angelenos may snub their noses at any Mexican-food scene that’s not their own, but the best tacos in NYC are here to prove them wrong. Whether you’re trying out one of the city’s best Mexican restaurants or looking for some cheap eats at one of New York’s most beloved food courts, these are the best tacos NYC has to offer.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best tacos in NYC, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Chelsea
  • price 1 of 4
Small, from-scratch corn tortillas puff up on the grill like blowfish at this West Coaster–approved Chelsea Market taco counter, easing down before they’re piled with superbly juicy adobada pork: The red-chili-marinated pig is trimmed shawarma-style from a glistening spit, its natural sweetness jacked up with shards of pineapple and a squirt of lime.
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4
Olvera’s elegant, high-gear small plates—pristine, pricey and as market-fresh as anything coming out of Thomas Keller’s kitchen—more than fills that gap in New York dining. It steamrolls right over it. Tacos make a solitary appearance on the menu in an atypically generous portion of duck carnitas, cooked to the sinful midpoint of unctuous fat and seared flesh.
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Crispy tempura shrimp tacos at Alta Calidad
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Prospect Heights

Chef-owner Akhtar Nawab felt distinct similarities between the cuisines of Mexico and India—his parents’ native country. Having grown up learning to cook with his mother as his culinary inspiration, for Alta Calidad he created a marriage of the two cuisines with exciting flavors and satisfying standout dishes. These crispy shrimp tempura show just that, showcasing the perfect combo of textures with plump shrimp in a crispy batter and along chewy chorizo all packed in housemade tortillas. 

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  • Attractions
  • Rockaways
  • price 1 of 4
Despite the kitschy delight of eating takeaway tacos off a knee-balanced plate at Rockaway Taco, the sit-down setup at this offshoot, housed inside the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, is a much-welcome upgrade. Just like at that OG taco shack, chef Andrew Field is fueling off-duty surfers and beach-bound locals with exemplary beer-battered fish tacos ($3.50) and watermelon juices ($4), but Tacoway boasts one major feature its forebear was missing: alcohol.
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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Prospect Heights
  • price 1 of 4

Denisse Lina Chavez, known around these parts at the Queen of Carnitas, moved her cramped bodega–cum–taqueria from the south Bronx to central Brooklyn with this 32-seat Prospect Heights successor. Inside the cheery space–decorated with bright-green stools and pineapple-painted walls–find the central Mexican specialties that Chavez built her reputation on: The chef nixtamalizes blue corn via a Jalisco-imported custom masa machine to make tortillas, which hug everything from chicken tinga to chorizo to, yes, those juicy, immensely porky carnitas.

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Gorgon at Otto's Tacos
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • East Village
  • price 1 of 4
California native Otto Cedeno doles out pitch-perfect tacos at this 13-seat joint lined with rustic wooden panels and white subway tiles. During slower daytime hours, insiders can request this off-menu, battered monstrosity (it's named after a monster from Greek mythology). One house masa tortilla is pressed and then deep-fried before receiving a generous filling of boisterous carne asada, guacamole, spiced crema, onions and cilantro.

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