For my first two or three years in this neighborhood, I got my breakfast sandwich with fresh OJ (hang-over remedy) from the El Paisa over on Myrtle and Irving. Their green sauce is/was (haven’t been there in a while) slammin. Every Mexican joint around here makes their own salsa; and I have had three that were outstanding. When I say “outstanding”, I mean it went with everything and all of a sudden everything tasted bland without it.
I told the owners they should bottle it. They always asked if I wanted ketchup, hell no, I want the green sauce baby. Stuff was so good I would put it on my Cheerios. Then I wondered why I never tried any of their Mexican food. They had Tacos, Tortas, Tamales, the whole “nine”. Then I remembered why I never bothered. I already have a spot for Tamales… down the street at the cart on Myrtle and Knickerbocker, and for Tacos I went to the cart over on Myrtle and Wyckoff.
However, these jank street carts can’t hold a candle to the real McCoy. At least that’s what I thought. But to be real, the Tamale cart has them shits on lock-down. El Paisa’s were simply too dry, and their Tacos, were bland in comparison to the cart over on Myrtle/Wyckoff. Sad fucking truth is…that the little taco cart that never closed, open for business 24/7; that little sum-bitch had every restaurant in the neighborhood beat.
I’ll admit that I think El Paisa has them beat on green sauce, but the cart’s tacos are fine without salsa. The green sauce at the cart isn’t necessarily there for flavor, more so for heat.
A close second (and I’m sure people will wanna debate me on this) is the Tortilla plant over on Starr street right across from Sydney, the junk shop jew.
One thing I noticed about this cart is that I think they have franchises. I noticed one identical right outside the Jackson Heights/Roosevelt ave subway station in Queens. I remember going to see clients there and the carts had the same sign, pictures, and the tacos were just as good.
I get it, having carts are cheaper than having to pay some shitty landlord’s overhead just to have a restaurant. Lets be honest, tables and chairs are over-rated. What about all that extra space you have to clean up, plus with a restaurant usually comes a lot more rodents and they are a lot harder to reach. Where with a cart, you just pull the fucker up to a car wash and hose it down…right?
It’s good for the customer too. No waiting for some waiter, to drag his feet and fuck up your order only to still expect a fifteen percent tip. Just walk up, place your order, eat, pay, and throw him a dollar if you feel so inclined; either way it doesn’t make a difference.
However, if you can, make it in spanish. I mean, plenty of white and black folks who don’t speak a lick of Spanish order in English and everything seems to go smooth enough I guess. Actually it’s usually worse if they try to break out any Spanish. They just butcher the language with “yo care-o, dose tacos with pollo”…it’s fucking brutal on the ears.
Not me son, I walk right up and do that shit hundred percent in Spanish, even with a little spice. They usually just think I’m from Argentina, and every now and then I am called “wero”.
My order is usually two tacos… one carnitas (fried pork), and one cessina (salted beef). I’ve noticed that if ever I bring friends, carnitas is the one flavor everyone agrees is official. Tacos usually come served on two corn tortillas, which I find to be a bit much. Immediately upon being served, I separate the bottom tortilla. This must be done immediately for if you don’t, the heat from the tortillas will begin to meld them together, usually causing them to rip and tear if you attempt after any substancial amount of time (substantial being anything after two or three minutes).
Once achieved then you’re set, squeeze some lime all over, add a little hot sauce and then there you are. Standing next to a trash can, outside of a subway station as people shuffle past you, whilst you stuff your face. You can’t eat them too slow now since taking away that second tortilla.
Ya see, once you pile one fried pork, sauteed onions, cilantro, guacamole, lime juice and hot sauce, that one lone tortilla can only support it all for so long. If you are too leisurely in pacing yourself, then that fucker starts to fall apart, and there goes your taco. I mean I could just leave on that second tortilla and avoid all of this, but I don’t like the ratio of tortilla to everything else… so this is the sacrifice I must make… eating with swiftness. I can live with that.
It’s like a game of beat the clock. Me standing there: a grown man, in the middle of all that foot traffic, huffing up exhaust from every car standing idle, (this is the corner of a six-way intersection) with lime juice running down my hand, and repeatedly wiping away a smudge of green sauce from the corner of my mouth…and why would I want it any other way. It’s a little messy… but it’s my fucking reality; and with so few choices left in the world, I can’t help but exaggerate the little meaningless ones I still have.