The NYC dining city is so dynamic. I can’t believe that a few places that I’ve just casually dropped by at have only been open a few months. Things seem to change here by the week… I had seen a listing for Street Taco on Yelp. with pretty good reviews but a bit mixed. Still, on a Wednesday night, a bit late, looking for something to eat, I felt like grabbing some of the Latin American cuisine that, while getting popular in Australia, has a flair here that I don’t think can be matched.
Still, I wasn’t sure about this place, on a corner only a block away from my hotel, the Carleton Arms. The name doesn’t describe much. And the menu, where you tick off on an order sheet the kind of tacos you want, seemed a bit limited. Tacos, nachos and guacamole. Boy, was I surprised.
To start with, their cocktails, on tap, are sensational. For $11, I tried both of them. One was a watermelon and lime mixture with tequila. It had a crazy punch of both alcohol and flavour. Scrumptious. The second (because the first was so good, I had to try it) was a spicy margarita. Equally good, but different flavours.
Then the tacos. It was explained that two of them come with hard shells. I was dubious. Aren’t those out of fashion? But no, the two that come with hard shells come with corn tortillas that have been perfectly deep-fried so they are crisp and light and rich and complement the fillings perfectly, an amazing tuna tartare and a ceviche, both with a good citrus hit. With both of these dishes, I like them, sort of no matter what, but usually find a sort of clean, citrus finish, perhaps a thinness of texture. Whatever they do here, they manage to make these combos feel… luscious and rich. Not sure what they do.
For the other tacos, they were perfect proteins, with coriander and spice, sauce, lime on the side: barbecued lamb, pollo asado and chicken tinga. All the tacos are $4 or $5 and I only ordered 3 to start with. And I wasn’t hungry after I finished them but they were SO GOOD I had to try 2 more.
The waitress (charming) sent over the manager to deal with this crazy person raving about their food, and I found out they’ve been open only two months; the tequila is of high quality (Milagro), and all the ingredients too, and they really pay attention to the combos to get them right. Honestly, before I came in, I was thinking: is this going to be better than the taco stand up the street that looks really cheap and humble? And now I’m thinking: how can I get back here before I leave, and who should I bring? $50 for 5 tacos and 2 strong cocktails. Yum! Highest recommendation. I think the new Mexican restaurants in Sydney are doing a good job, all things considering, but to get the ingredients all the way there… and then a kitchen staff that have direct experience of Mexico and Mexican cuisine… It’s just not going to be the same.