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Snack Dragon

New York NY (East Village)

197 e 3rd st, new york NY 10002
sun-thurs 5pm-2am, fri-sat 5pm-4am

Snack Dragon

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Rating: 84
Price: $$$$

Whenever I review a taco stand, I always struggle to balance the visceral joy I unavoidably feel upon first biting into a taco with the rational analysis of the constituent ingredients, composition, and structure of the taco itself. After all, the former is highly dependent on factors out of the particular taqueria's control (my appetite, what sort of mood I'm in, who I'm with, etc.), and for which they should not be held accountable. While the latter reduces everyone to a more-or-less level playing field, is not that moment of joy why we seek tacos? Or, for that matter, anything else?

First, the basics. Snack Dragon is what I'd describe as a hollywood-boutique-style taco stand. The tacos are fancy and use trendy ingredients like quinoa; the music is hip; and the decorations featured Klaus Nomi. After much deliberation, I went with one carne asada and one dragon (carnitas) taco. Unfortunately, the dude informed me that their pork was not up to snuff, so I substituted a grilled sole taco. Both were served on a heated-up tortillas with beans, cheese, cilantro, and a dash of sour cream and salsa.

Snack Dragon is a place that had a high 'immediate catharsis' factor for me. All of their figurative ducks had lined up in a row. I hadn't had tacos in a few weeks - actually over a month, since coming back from DC - and I was super hungry. I was hanging out with some NYC business associates old (Ben, Danielle) and new (Rachel). Paradoxically, their hyper-slow (but quite friendly) service helped them out by exacerbating my appetite as I watched other people's food being prepared by the one man behind the counter, read the menu over and over again, looked at the various hot sauces in front of me, and fantasized about what was to come. When my first taco finally came, it was the sort of moment that made me realize why I got into the taco-reviewing game - the money, prestige, and beautiful women are nice, but in the end it all comes down to the taste buds.

Upon more sober analysis, however, Snack Dragon doesn't quite deserve the hype. Prices are truly ridiculous (I believe the most expensive tacos yet reviewed on tacosmog), though with Zaragosa raising tacos prices down the street, perhaps an upwards adjustment of my NY taco price index is necessary. The tacos were good, but there was no house salsa, so I had to rely on Tapatio. They only had one guy behind the counter for a total of 14 customers while we were there. They didn't have any pork while I was there, so 16.67% of the taco options were unobtainable. Of my two tacos, both were fairly good - the carne asada was a bit chewy, but clearly freshly cut and well-marinated. The grilled sole was particularly good (and that's coming from a guy who doesn't like fish so much) with a nice soft, chewy, and well-seasoned attitude. It was nice to combine the black beans with the meats, and the tacos tasted just fine.

However, after much introspection, I've come to the conclusion that Snack Dragon had perfectly enjoyable tacos, though they simply were not spectacular. My feelings while eating at Snack Dragon should be interpreted as a 'heat of the moment' type thing, with the perfect storm of taco-appreciating-conditions giving Snack Dragon a noticeable boost. They also lost a few points for the extreme wait. I can't envision stopping here again given the price, but if I were to receive a gift card I'd like to compare my first-bite joy, and maybe their rating would be due an upgrade

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