Real talk: there is a dearth of great Mexican food in New York City. Traverse the five boroughs and I can pick out a handful, maybe two, of really good food.
In a city teeming with Dominican, Puerto Rican and hell, even Spanish food, there’s such a noticeable lack of honest-to-goodness Mexican fare that it’s practically a cliche now. And we’re not talking Tex-Mex—delicious in its own right but most certainly not Mexican.
Hailing from Southern California and Chicago—both areas with a high population of the good folks from south of the border—I know my tacos from my taquitos, my nachos from my Doritos. There are days when my body just yearns for a grip of corn-tortilla-enveloped meat dripping in jus and oil, fairy-sprinkled with emerald green cilantro and diced onion.
Recently, I was having one of those body-cravings one day, which led me to a cursory Google search for “Bushwick tacos.”
Enter Taqueria Izucar. After reading this piece by the inimitable Robert Sietsema, I was compelled to go and get my taco fix.
Located underneath the rumbling above-ground M tracks on a busy stretch of Myrtle—a short walk away from the L train—this nondescript little joint is not much to look at. With barely any seating inside, this is the little taqueria that could. The menu rocks some classic double-tortilla tacos but you can also find cemitas (sesame seed-studded sandwiches stuffed with your choice of meat and cheese, avocado, chipotle and the tell-tale papalo, a flavorful and pungent herb found in all proper cemitas) and tortas (classic, hefty Mexican sandwiches of avocado, meat, lettuce, tomato and onion). Larger style platters are also available, but lez be real: that’s not what you’re here for.
What you want is the taco. The $1.25 taco. The simple, deeply flavored taco you just found in the middle of New York City. It’s like finding Shangri La, but for your mouth. You’ll find classic standbys like carnitas, al pastor (here, without its characteristic oily orange coloring) and chorizo, but don’t fear venturing out of your comfort zone for the lengua (tongue), suadero (veal flank) or oreja (pig ear). Behind the little window into the kitchen, you’ll see the cook whip up your alternately savory, spicy little disk, served with a heap of cilantro and a lime wedge or two, all on a no-fuss paper plate. Douse that bad boy in some of the provided salsa verde and you’re made.
Don’t be afear’d. The taco/salsa combo has bite, but man, it hurts so good.