5520 5th ave (btwn. 55th & 56th st), brooklyn NY 11220
Second on the official 'pre-vernal-equinox-Sunset Park taco-tour 2011' was Tulcingo (following Rico's Tacos, and preceding Tacos Nuevo Mexico). Our appetites were (deliberately) only partially sated at Rico's, so my business associates Sarah and Ben and I were quite excited to try out Tulcingo.
Tulcingo's vibes are quite different than Rico's: while Rico's is a small, bustling place, Tulcingo had a bunch of tables featuring tablecloths and fake flowers! This is also quite different from what I expected based on Yelp - most of the reviews mention a deli grocery, more like Zaragosa, rather than a full-sized restaurant. I can only speculate, based on this and the fact that everything looked pretty new and fancy, that Tulcingo is doing well enough to remodel sometime in the recent past.
Tulcingo started us out with some chips and salsa, and I had a pina Jarritos as well. The chips were unusually presented - they came in a small bag made of waxed paper. They were nonetheless delicious. This must allow them to make a ton of bags in the morning then not worry about it for the rest of the day. The salsa was not my favorite. It was a pretty sweet without much spicy to contrast - it could maybe be called a 'chunky ketchup' rather than a salsa.
I ordered two tacos - one cecina (salted and marinated beef) and one arabes (shawarma-style lamb on a flour tortilla). The service at Tulcingo was faster than that of Rico's, though they did mess up my business associate Sarah's order. My first bite into the cecina taco was a bite into heaven. The beef was cut nice and thin and the marinade was great. Bloomberg may not have liked it, but it had a good amount of salt without being overpowering. The cecina was topped with an avocado salsa, cilantro, and onions and turned out to be the perfect combination. The tacos arabes was good, but didn't quite stack up to the high expectations created by the cecina. The lamb was well-cooked, but the shawarma-style sauce was too bitter and copious for such a tender meat. It also ended up being a,overwhelmingly greasy taco. Definitely a misstep.
The two salsa options (green and red) were good but didn't stand out. Both were medium levels of spiciness and flavor without anything to beckon them. Overall, salsa is definitely Tulcingo's greatest weakness. With some improvements in this arena, they could be part of the pantheon of great New York tacos, especially their cecina. For now, however, they are a good stop but not the best in their neighborhood.
Reviewed by tacosmog.com on