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Zaragosa Mexican Deli-Grocery

New York NY (East Village)

215 ave A (btwn. 13th & 14th st), new york NY 10009


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Rating: 88
Price: $$$

After my disappointment at San Loco, I took a week of quiet time out of New York to go into the wilderness of Vermont, reflect on my and San Loco's failings, and re-evaluate what I was really looking for in a taqueria. The answer? Delicious tacos. What had I been looking for, previous to my meditations? Delicious tacos. As the pundits say, 'Consistency is the hallmark of a good internet-reviewing-site!'

My goals unchanged, I became extremely hungry and decided to try out another local eatery, this one decidedly less decorated. It's a small combination Mexican grocery and restaurant, though the grocery portion was pretty sparse - a few snacks, some beans, tortillas, and a tremendous cooler full of Mexican, Caribbean, and American beverages in various quantities. No prices, but based on their manner of display they were probably a great deal. Also, as you enter, you will notice extremely loud mariachi music and very little space to turn around.

The tacos themselves are an admirably bootleg production. The two employees microwave a couple tortillas to get them heated up, then grab some meat that has been marinating in a warmer on the counter, and plop some cilantro, onions, and pico de gallo-esque salsa on top. I got 1 pollo and 1 asada taco. Also accompanying the tacos is a lime slice, thank goodness, and a small dish of green salsa.

On a sign outside, they claimed that they're chicken was homemade and fresh, and it showed. It had a completely unique flavor, which is basically impossible for me to describe - kind of like smoked chicken minus the smoke (but retaining the vibes) and a bit of tang and spice. Incomprehensible description? Probably, but hopefully enough to pique your curiosity. My asada taco was a little less exciting - rather than marinated steak, it was more of a ground beef stewed with spices. I enjoy ground beef, but the spices were pretty unspectacular, and the meat was a bit chewy.

The tortillas were shockingly hot, but didn't have much flavor. The tacos were piled high with meat, however - far more than could be contained by the tortillas - so the tortillas were primarily overwhelmed by meaty deliciousness. I was left wondering how they could possibly make a grande taco - perhaps some means of sewing several tortillas together? The salsa was also pretty standard - green, a bit spicy, but not much flavor. Zaragosa lives and dies by the quality of their meat, and the chicken does a great job. While prices aren't cheap ($2.50 per taco), I'm beginning to suspect that I won't be able to find anything cheap on Manhattan. Definitely a place worthy of a return visit!

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