Best of the Rest: Devouring authentic tacos in Sunset Park
When the itch for tacos strikes, New Yorkers usually mosey effortlessly to the most familiar establishments. These could be obvious, big-name taquerias and chains like Dos Toros (dostoros.com), where tacos are stuffed to the gills with salsa and cheese, or Cascabel (nyctacos.com), where carnitas tacos are made with slow-roasted Berkshire pork butt.
Also increasingly on everyone's must-try taco list are newly emerging fusion-style tacos, such as those found at Domo Taco Truck (domotaco.com), which are served with soy miso slaw and sesame crema, and at April Bloomfield's Salvation Taco (salvationtaco.com) where you can feast on roasted cauliflower with curried crema and Moroccan lamb on naan tacos.
Understandably, not many people will trek across the city for a few tacos. To that, only one thing can be said: You are sorely missing out on the good tacos, inarguably the best ones.
Most famously, there are Tortilleria Nixtamal (tortillerianix tamal.com) in Corona, Queens -- where the handmade masa, or corn dough, is cooked completely in the "traditional ancient way," in which the corn is partially cooked and soaked with calcium hydroxide, or the dust that accumulates from scraping a limestone rock -- and several in Sunset Park.
The best is Rico's Tacos, which entices with its anything-but-ordinary ingredients.
The menu features two sections of tacos: the taquitos and the tacos especiales, which differ only in size. But you'll find a lot more in addition to the usual pollo and carnitas tacos here -- high up on the menu are options such as beef tripe ("tripa"), beef stomach ("buche") and beef tongue ("lengua"). There are also beef head ("cabeza"), beef and trimmed mix ("suadero") and beef stew ("picadillo de res") tacos.
Rico's is also a very colorful taqueria. With its red, white and green décor and salsas verde and roja on the table, Rico's is like one big patriotic party.
The clear fact is that at Rico's, there is no shortage of either authenticity or creativity -- the menu showcases much more than merely one way to put beef in a taco, to the point where no part of the cow is unused.
Heaped with cilantro and diced onions, plated on double-layer tortillas and accompanied by plenty of lime wedges, these taquitos, all priced $1-$1.50 for two tacos (tacos especiales are $2-$3), are exceptional.
505 51st St., Sunset Park, Brooklyn
R train to 53rd Street
THE DON'T MISS DISH: Beef tripe tacos especiales