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Taco Mix

New York NY (East Harlem)

234 e 116th st (btwn. 2nd & 3rd aves), new york NY 10029

Taco Mix

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Rating: 91
Price: $$ or $$$

After attending to some business in Morningside Heights, official Clean Plate Club co-president Ben and myself had some additional business to attend to in East Harlem: a recently discovered cache of taco restaurants of great renown. First on our list was Taco Mix, a small place with an unassuming name but a nice interior. You can see everything going on behind the counter, and there's a small ledge at which you can stand and eat, or tables to sit at. They had a nice hunk of pastor on a spit, reputed to be the best stuff they had, so we went for it. Taco options are pequenos (small) for $2, and grandes (large) for $3.

Naturally, we went for the $2 option; however, certain constituent ingredients are available only in certain sizes. I got one pastor and, after striking out several times (chicken, chorizo, asada) I ended up with an oreja taco as well. Unfortunately, my Spanish failed me under pressure, and I totally forgot that oreja meant ear - but, gamely, I sallied forth to my meal.

One of Taco Mix's most appealing aspects is the variety of salsa options and toppings bar. There's 4 different hot sauces: two smoky reds of varying spiciness, a chunky tart red that came in our to-go boxes, and a deep spicy green. All of them were delicious, though the smoky options had too much smoke flavor for my tastes, and the variety was truly appreciated. In addition to salsa options, there were limes, pickled vegetables, and peppers available to the customer, either as taco-toppings or on the side. The tortillas were pretty unremarkable, though they did the job well (as my ex-wife used to say, 'the best tortillas go unnoticed' [this statement being the reason for our divorce]), held together, and didn't detract from the experience at all.

In a classic delay of certain pleasure, I started with my oreja taco. Oreja, for those unfamiliar, is fairly gross-looking - basically, it looks like a couple blobs of fat with a white stripe in between. It's prepared boiled and fried, and the chewy texture is off-putting. While I can't complain about the taste, it certainly isn't something I'd try again (though, obviously, I can't fault Taco Mix for this - for all I know, this is the world's best oreja).

The highlight was the pastor taco. The pastor was well-seasoned, barely moist enough (definitely in the danger zone) and in nice big hunks. Combined with lime, chunky red, and green salsa, this constituted the best taco I've had since moving to New York. The contrast of flavors was perfect, the taco stayed together, and everything turned out great. This was better, even, than my recent trip to Sunset Park. Taco Mix comes away highly recommended - just stick to pastor and don't get the oreja.

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