May 04, 2012
By JONATHAN WALTER
Standard Staff Reporter
Cinco de Mayo falls on Saturday this year, a perfect time for Mexican cuisine, but with so many burger, pizza and panini shops around The Five Towns, it’s not always easy to satisfy one’s craving for tacos because of a comparable scarcity of taco establishments.
The taco has been around in the Americas since as early as 3,000 B.C. with evidence of corn based tortillas being found in the ancient state of Puebla in South America. Hernan Cortez and his Conquistadors discovered locals making tortilla based foods when they arrived in The New World in 1519.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, we have listed and graded the area’s selection of tacos from Valley Stream to Far Rockaway and everywhere in between, local favorites included. The tacos were all beef and rated based upon the basic taco available at each establishment
Ay! Caramba – Hewlett
After winning in The Standard’s burger ratings a couple months ago, there were high expectations for Ay! Caramba, and they didn’t disappoint, earning top honors for their tasty tacos. They are not just tacos either, with an extensive menu of Mexican fare including quesadillas, burritos and more. They are a bit more pricey, but if the ratings are any indication, the additional cost is worth it.
“Great meat and nice mix of cheese, meat and veggies.”
“They got the mix right! Spicy, veggies and cheese and delicious meat. Near perfect.”
“Overall, its a great balance of ingredients. Its a little heavy however. the meat could use a little more flavor.”
Overall Rating: ****
$3.99 for one taco, 5.99 for two
Ay! Caramba is located at 1320 Broadway in Hewlett. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and are closed on Sunday. If you’d like to place an order for pickup or free delivery call them at (516) 837-0818.
Carlos and Gabbys – Cedarhurst*
* NOTE: They’re kosher and use no cheese
Carlos and Gabby’s is a Five Towns favorite, especially in the Orthodox community where there isn’t really a kosher alternative for Mexican cuisine. They have a lot more than tacos, including a variety of lunch specials, subs, salads, fajita platters and wraps. They are particularly well-regarded for their interesting and original subs.
“Meat has good sauce but masks any real taste of meat.”
“Meat is a little dry – feels like it’s drowning in this sauce. Tomatoes were excellent, however!”
“The tortilla is bland. The taco is drowned in too much sauce and it’s hard to tell the taste. Meat has some flavor but it’s a little dry.”
Overall Rating: ** ½
$2.99 a taco
Carlos and Gabby’s is located at 143 Washington Avenue in Lawrence. They are open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday from 11:00 a.m. until two hours before Shabbos, and Saturday from 90 minutes after Shabbos until midnight. To place an order for pickup or delivery, call them at (516) 239-8226.
Taqueria El Rinconcito Mexicano – Inwood
A small but very ethnically inspired restaurant with Mexican themed decoration including a jukebox, collectibles on the wall that add to your dining experience. They have plenty of Mexican fare including tacos, tortas and a variety of pupusas.
“I love this. It could use cheese, but this meat is really fresh and good. Sauce on it is just a plus – spicy!”
“It’s pretty good – a little different with the fresh meat. Not as good without cheese, but very tasty.”
“I like how it’s real beef strips in there instead of it being ground. There is a nice mixture of vegetables.”
Overall Rating: *** ½
$2.50 a taco
Taqueria El Rinconcito Mexicano is located at 259 Sheridan Boulevard in Inwood. They are open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week. To place an order for pickup or delivery, you can reach them at (516) 371-0919.
Tacos y Mas – Far Rockaway
Tacos y Mas doesn’t have very accessible parking, with 25 cent per ten minute meter parking the closest around. It is a very authentic establishment, with less mainstream options including tostadas and enchiladas. Their other fare may be tasty, however their tacos didn’t sit well with our panel.
“Not good – no kick of flavor at all. Should be Tacos y Nada.”
“Meat is alright, but sauce on top is bit odd.”
“Meat tastes fresh – not processed. A plus. But overall, it just wasn’t a good taco”
Overall Rating: * ½
$1.75 a taco
Tacos y Mas is located at 18-31 Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway. They are open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. To place an order for pickup or delivery, call them at (718) 327-3001.
Burrito Monster – Valley Stream
Recently opened off of Franklin Avenue in Valley Stream, Burrito Monster is a nice hole in the wall, mostly designed for take out. While specializing in Mexican and obviously burritos, they have an extensive menu, including buffalo wings, wraps and burgers. As for tacos, they have pinto and black bean variety all the way up to shrimp. On their menu they boast no M.S.G., no lard and no preservatives.
“Good taco, flavored beef and well cooked.”
“Meat tastes excellent but missing some cheese on it. Easily would get another.”
“Meat is the right consistency and has decent flavor. The taco could use a little more oomph.”
Overall Grade: ***
$1.89 a taco
Burrito Monster is located at 141 South Franklin Avenue in Valley Stream. They are open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m and are closed on Sunday. To place an order for pickup or free delivery you can reach them at (516) 881-7555.
Winner: Ay! Caramba
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