Salvation Taco

Restaurants, Mexican Murray Hill
60 Love It
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 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica LinLamb on naan at Salvation Taco
 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica LinPork-belly-and-pineapple salad at Salvation Taco
 (Photograph: Jessica Lin)
Photograph: Jessica LinSalvation Taco

You couldn’t be blamed for low expectations if you wandered into Salvation Taco, the new stylized taqueria located in the budget Pod 39 Hotel. During prime loosen-your-tie-and-slip-off-your-pumps evening hours, the Murray Hill crowd can be as obnoxious as a roving band of SantaCon reindeer. And the place is in-your-face garish, like a party joint imported from Cancun spring break, with bright Christmas lights and a wall covered in fake fruit.

But that first impression tells only half the story. With April Bloomfield running the kitchen and Ken Friedman in charge of everything else, this is far from your typical after-work sloshfest. The powerhouse team behind the Spotted Pig and the Breslin is playing against type—like Danny Meyer reinventing the burger shack or Tom Colicchio launching a sandwich chain—bringing their highbrow skills into a new mass-market arena.

The venue—as colorful as a Mexican blanket, decked out in a rainbow of thrift-store junk—skews younger than any this team has opened previously, designed to fit the Pod’s youth-hostel vibe. The sprawling space, a happy-hour rec room, features two long votive-lit bars, plush couches for lounging and Ping-Pong tables in glass-enclosed nooks. It is first and foremost a place to imbibe, its Mexicanish finger food mostly designed for easy consumption while clutching an icy cerveza.

Bloomfield could have phoned it in for this out-of-her-wheelhouse venture. But instead she’s raising the bar on dirt-cheap Mexican snacks: Smart enough to know the limits of her expertise, she tapped taco maestro Roberto Santibañez, of Fonda, for help.

The Mexican chef, who owns a piece of the project, brings a solid South of the Border foundation to Bloomfield’s polyglot tacos. Tiny tortillas—made fresh to order from Nixtamal masa, in view of the bar —are stuffed with primo ingredients from all over the place. Tender strips of medium-rare skirt steak come swaddled in a Texas-style smoky pecan-and-chipotle salsa. Crispy sweetbreads have Italian and Middle Eastern notes, from fried chickpeas and sweet pomegranate relish. And there’s a great Southeast Asian kick to the red-curry cream spooned onto golden roasted cauliflower. While the taco dimensions—three bites max—are traditionaly Mexican, the fillings, for the most part, proudly are not.

Bloomfield and Santibañez, bouncing ideas off each other, are reinventing Mexican classics—al pastor taco filling inspires a bright, spicy salad, heavy on the fruit, with hunks of crisp pork belly tossed with charred pineapple and slivered poblanos. They’re also serving a host of multicultural winners, like miniature naan piled with Moroccan-spiced lamb breast—the meat slow-cooked in banana leaves then crisped on the griddle—or the classic hangover soup posole, its citrus tang amped up by excellent hot-sour kimchi.

While most of these dishes are in very small portions, the large-format Jacob’s Ladder Feast—a gorgeous peppery, falling-off-the-bone short rib with house-pickled cauliflower and cactus, zingy green and red salsas, and a stack of tortillas—is a generous and shareable meal.

Friedman and gang have hidden a very good restaurant inside an extremely clamorous bar. It’s a little unfortunate. By the time your piping-hot churros arrive, the place may be mobbed with revelers too soused to really care what they eat. Bloomfield’s food deserves more respect.


Eat this: Sweetbread tacos, skirt steak tacos, lamb on naan, kimchi posole, Jacob’s Ladder Feast

Drink this: Head barman Sam Anderson has compiled a well-crafted list of playful fiesta drinks. Try the creamy 5 Island Horchata ($13), spiked with dark rum and Fernet Vallet. The excellent tart house margarita ($13) comes with a guajillo chili rim.

Conversation piece: The Pod occupies a former Salvation Army building, which inspired the name of the restaurant (and some of the religion-themed decor).The property is the first in what its owners hope will become a big national chain. Bloomfield and Friedman have signed on to do other budget restaurants—not taquerias, most likely—in future Pod hotels.

By: Jay Cheshes


Venue name: Salvation Taco
Address: 145 E 39th St
New York
Cross street: between Lexington and Third Aves
Opening hours: Daily 7am–5pm, 5:30pm–2am
Transport: Subway: 42nd St S, 4, 5, 6, 7 to 42nd St–Grand Central
Price: Average taco: $6. AmEx, Disc, MC, V
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Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

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Oh my!!! did anyone say "tacos al pastor"? I was at the downstairs restaurant a couple of months ago. I loved every bite of my steak tacos but definitely preferred my al pastor tacos order...they were so good and tasty. I loved the back room which was reserved for a private event; however, I had a chance to pick and loved the whole Mexican themed setup/ it looks very original with all the vibrant colors and balloons having from the ceiling! I didn't have a cocktail at the time but I'm looking forward to visiting on a hot summer afternoon to enjoy the nice views and what I can anticipate would be an amazing drink. This is a casual spot near grand central terminal!

I've been here before on a few occasions, and the rooftop bar is definitely worth checking out. I haven't eaten in the downstairs area, but the rooftop area is nice, though the menu is more limited and service can be somewhat spotty, Overall, though if looking for a place to have a casual drink and soak up a great view, would recommend coming here. 


Way different than expected - in a real good way. Connected to a budget hotel, and decked out in a quasi-authentic Mexican street decor (complete with prayer candles on the tables), high tops, couches, and buzzing lights. The staff is polite and competent, and the menu and food is varied, but offers really tasty, small-sized portions of tacos. The tacos themselves are not really traditional - there are mixed combinations of fillings from meat, chicken and vegetables with spices from all over (there's chicken tinga, braised steak, lamb, fish and mayo, etc.) and these things are addictive. The bar menu is filled with reliable tequila cocktails, and pitchers - but I really enjoyed the michelada (a spicy tomato drink with beer), and the whiskey cocktails. Overall, it's a fun spot to hang out and eat and drink for as long as you want. There's a rooftop open in the warmer months.


This spacious, fun, colorfully decorated restaurant makes it a good place for a group. The menu isn't regular go-to mexican food, but has great, different things to choose from. I'd go back for the chicken wings appetizer- they were amazing!!! The Cauliflower tacos were pretty good, and the Empanadas were super cheesy which I love. Worth going to for a group dinner, but I wouldn't just go there to grab a taco. 

Drink, tacos & crazy cool decor prefect sums up your experience at Salvation Taco. Every dish is phenomenal but my fav are the steak tacos & fish tacos. Always say I'll try something new but I always veer back these 2. A great selection of tequila & beer, something for any kind is palette. Always packed during happy hour but totally worth smushed up walk to the bar. Cinco de mayo?? Forget it!!! Get there early to stake you clam in a corner & don't plan on leaving. ALL. NITE. Small dishes make it easy to nosh while you drink & take in the sites & sounds of this NYC must try taco place.

Incredible atmosphere on the rooftop. The food is great and the service was quick when I was there. It can get pretty busy at times, so be prepared to wait in line. You can't go wrong with any of their taco options, but my favorite is carne asada w grilled nopales, pickled peppers & onions.

This is a great place for tacos! They are small but delicious, and the drinks are great too. If you're looking to head to the pod rooftop, make sure to put your name in way early (like 5pm early). They now strictly enforce the amount of people going up there and it can take forever during happy hour (but the views are worth it!)


I've never eaten here but I did come to chill on the rooftop quite recently. It was HUGE plenty of seating, no line, strong drinks and a quick elevator. For a Saturday night I was pleasantly surprised at how not crowded it was on such a lovely evening. They had a huge selection of cocktails which you could either pick up at the bar downstairs or purchase on the rooftop. I'd love to come back and eat because I've heard the food is quite delicious! 

I would definetely come back here for a night out or just happy hour with friends and co-workers! 


Like Derek Jeter in the 9th inning, or a slice of cold pizza when you're hungover, you can always rely on Salvation Taco. Do I wish that it wasn't within spitting distance of the madness that is Grand Central? Of course. Are the food and drinks a little overpriced for what they are? Yes. But between the months of April and October, it's a solid option for those looking to consume alcohol on the roof of a building. 

It's also a go-to date spot. Does your Tinder match live in Westchester and "would love to grab a drink but I don't wanna miss my train!"? If so, take her to Salvation Taco. Grab a couple glasses of sangria, and order something (or many things) from their very above average bar menu- the empanadas are a must.

And worst case, if you show up and she looks nothing like her profile picture, I promise there will be at least 47,000 other single women (rough estimate) there, so take your pick. 


You wouldn’t expect to find a young, hip, and fun Mexican restaurant in Murray Hill, would you? Located in the ultra cool Pod 39 Hotel, Salvation Taco delivers some well needed excitement to the area. If you want to just grab a drink for happy hour, chill in the back library area, or play some indoor ping pong, Salvation Taco is the place to go. Besides all the fun, they have great Mexican food as well and serve food for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The chips and guacamole and chihuahua cheese empanadas are delicious starters. The roasted cauliflower tacos are killer as well.


Really unique food and fun atmosphere! Massive dining area in the back and a ping pong table! The guacamole was really tasty. The fried fish taco was also really good. We also had the spicy pork loin torta. A torta is basically a sandwich/burger type thing, I'm not what the bread was but it was really really good. Definitely had a kick to it but was really fresh and unique.

I thought this was a simple taco place but the food is actually very sophisticated Mexican style food.  I went with several people and we shared our food and everything I tried was delicious.  The portions are very small, if you are hungry consult your server about what would be best.  The entrees reminded me of tapas more than whole meals.  We sat in the back and had a very low table and very low seating.  One of my companions is over six feet tall and he looked very uncomfortable.  We all loved the music and ambiance, it's definitely not your typical Mexican restaurant.  I definitely will go back, next time I might prefer sitting in the bar section on a bar stool as that could prove to be more comfortable for dining.

Salvation Taco is a fun, cool spot in terms of atmosphere. You walk in and there's a different set of decor in every corner of restaurant. I recommend coming during a non-busy time like a Sunday afternoon. Get some Salvation Margaritas and a few appetizers like the guacamole or chips/salsa. There are two ping pong tables in the back of the bar which I love - if you're looking for more of an activity. Downside is no food is allowed near the ping pong tables. Also the service isn't so great - our waitress barely came by to us throughout our time there and often had to order drinks at the bar separately.


A really cool environment ! Very lively and colorful! The margaritas are sooo good and refreshing after long day of work;)

I went to Salvation Taco's rooftop for Fourth of July, and it's one of my favorite Manhattan rooftops now. The brick facades, climbing green vines and string lights give it a really romantic feel. There's also a view of surrounding Manhattan on three sides. Downstairs, my friends and I ordered the empanadas (twice), al pastor tacos and churros. The tacos were small and simple, but somehow incredibly flavorful, like the meat had been cooking with spices for hours.

Fantastic place for great drinks and tacos. Might be a wait for the tables (20 min wait on a Tuesday evening for two) but usually room at the bar/lounge if you're in a hurry. Service was great, food was delicious, and atmosphere was fun. I'd suggest the Korean BBQ, Fried Fish and Cauliflower tacos.