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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

Photograph: Courtesy Sasithon Pooviriyakul

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


Adobada taco at Los Tacos No.1

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.

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Duck carnitas taco at Cosme

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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Beer-braised tongue taco at Empellón Taqueria

Chef-owner Alex Stupak slowly cooks brined pork tongue with bacon, chorizo, onions and a slug of Negra Modelo. The meat is coated with the reduced braising liquid and drizzled with a fiery chile de arbol salsa, while slivers of raw onion, roasted fingerling potatoes and queso fresco balance the protein's rich, spicy flavors.

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West Village

Fish taco at Tacoway Beach

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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Al Pastor taco at Tortilleria Nixtamal

Some of the best Mexican restaurants in town use the tortillas made at this factory. Go straight to the source everyday, when Nixtamal's small café offers al pastor tacos: marinated pork butt roasted on an outdoor spit. The juicy slices are topped with pineapple and cilantro and folded into a house-made tortilla.

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Long Island City

Carnitas taco at El Atoradero

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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Prospect Heights

Pescado a las brasas taco at La Esquina

La Esquina's sit-down café and takeout taqueria offer a number of dependable bites, but we particularly like its straightforward treatment of fish—a hunk of grilled mahi-mahi, speared with a skewer and brightened with shredded cabbage and salsa verde.

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Al pastor taco at Taqueria Diana

At this narrow East Village takeout taqueria, owner Matthew La Rue (the Meatball Shop) shaves off quivering, yielding bites of blistered, spit-roasted pork for his al pastor taco, stacked high on house-pressed corn tortillas with chopped onions and optional dollops of smooth guacamole and morita-chili salsa.

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East Village

Gorgon at Otto's Tacos

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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East Village

Carnitas tacos at Tehuitzingo

You won't need Spanish skills to gobble down $2.50 carnitas (pork seasoned with garlic, thyme and oregano) and garlicky, lime-marinated beef tacos at this tiny, fast-paced Mexican bodega. The two-layer tacos are easy for little ones to handle, as are the sopes (thick cornmeal tortillas) topped with cheese, beans and whatever meat you fancy. Work your way to the back of the store to find a handful of stools to eat at, or if weather permits, enjoy your feast at the Hell's Kitchen playground right across the street.

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Hell's Kitchen
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Looking for more street eats?

The best food trucks in NYC

From Salvadoran pupusas to Korean barbecue, grab some top-rate mobile grub at the best food trucks NYC has to offer

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By: Time Out New York contributors


Marc B

Cantina in Harlem 111/7th Ave has the BEST tacos in NYC. And during Happy Hour they are only $2 each! 

Gordon S

 Tehutizingo on Hell's kitchen? Taqueria at LES? Much better than many of these overly hipster and hyped outfits.


Tacos El Bronco truck in Sunset Park has THE best tacos in NYC, hands down.

Corey S

@Katie They have a truck on White Plains in the Bronx, too. They are great and they deliver. But the Bronx never gets any love on these lists.