3. A Taco Tour (in Three Parts)
The much anticipated PART THREE.
Los Tacos No. 1
The energy at LTNO is great. You order at the cashier and then stand at the counter waiting for them to call your name and having the opportunity to personalize your taco with toppings. The line move relatively quickly and the staff is friendly. We ordered the chicken tacos and tacos al pastor (the al pastor does not appear on the menu but it is available!).
Shortly after ordering, our tacos were presented and I bit into the chicken taco. I chewed. I waited. Was I dreaming? Had I actually put food in my mouth? The chicken was flavorless. I could not distinguish between meat and tortilla and toppings. It was empty calories. With very little spice or flavor of any sort, I tried to doctor up my taco with salsa and lime and then I realized I was eating salsa and lime wrapped in a semi-spongy tortilla. I was disappointed.
Thinking maybe I ordered incorrectly, I moved on to the Al Pastor taco feeling nervous and exciting for this “off menu” treat. The initial bite was delicious as I got the flavor of the sweet pineapple and the tangy pork. But then the pork seemed a bit chewy and the toppings were unimpressive. Ultimately, these tacos lacked personality and flavor. This surprised me because I always thought of LTNO as a flavorful taqueria where you could reliably get delicious tacos. Given the crowds and the popularity of the years, I wonder if Los Tacos Numero 1 has become a taco factory, churning out taco after taco and losing the art and consistency of quality cuisine in the process?
Hoping to end on a high note, we stayed within Chelsea Market and made our way over to…
The (taco) menu at Los Mariscos is painfully simple. Shrimp, spicy shrimp, or fried fish. They also have ceviches and oysters, but this was a taco tour.
We ordered a fried fish and spicy shrimp (enchilado) taco.
We also ordered a side of guacamole to round out our progressives dinner. The best part about the guac was that at each table / spot at the counter was a bag of Guerrero tostadas to break apart into tortilla chips and dip or nibble on. I felt like a kid again when I could play with my food!
As per our experience at Empellon, the fried fish could have been fried anything within a taco. Just another flavorless protein that I could skip.
The Enchilado spicy shrimp taco was not very spicy, IMO, unless you tasted a lot of the spicy mayo, and was also loaded with toppings and CHEESE. I felt thrown into a Tex Mex meets Baja, California mashup. Usually not a huge fan of cheese in my tacos, especially when seafood is involved, I was pleasantly surprised. The flavors worked well together. These were definitely on the spectrum towards California-style tacos filled to the brim and difficult to eat while keeping your hands (and shirt) clean, but I thought it was a good bang for your buck (especially considering the DIY tortilla chips).
Overall, Empellon won across all our criteria. But, it was probably out of true realm of our other stops.
I believe Taco Tuesday should take place every Tuesday, so this tour will certainly continue in the future.