A Year In Food

From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Nov. 28.

Dinner -

Tacos Matamoros - 4503 5th Ave., Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Two al pastor tacos, a chorizo taco, chalupas mixtas, some of Ganda's shrimp cocktail, an horchata, a lemon-lime Jarritos

My friend Dario asked me one day why Mexican food was subpar in New York. In a city that excels in so many nationalities, it feels like people have pretty much ceded the wonders of tacos and burritos to the West Coast. And while there are some bright spots that tweak the formula (Itzocan Café, Bonita), outstanding straightforward Mexican fare is pretty hard to find.

Still, I knew that it had to be out there after I checked in on other food blogs. The most promising lead was Ganda’s impassioned defense of Sunset Park’s Tacos Matamoros on her site Eat Drink One Woman. There, she called it the best tacos in the city, in caps no less, a tall claim to make and one that I just had to investigate.

Ganda and I decided to meet up just after Thanksgiving, when the effects of turkey and tryptophan had time to wear off. On a dark and frigid night, I made my way down to Sunset Park, a neighborhood I’d only been to a few times. It boasted a densely Mexican community, a fact that boded well for the food. Through the drizzle, I also walked by a busy Taco Bell, a fact that foretold of less promising results.

It quickly became obvious though that I was in the hands of an expert. Ganda, who grew up in Los Angeles and went to school in Berkeley, had grown up on great Mexican food. She elaborated on the differences between Southern and Northern Californian Mexican (the former is closer to the food in Mexico). Living in the area, she’d also had time to master the Matamoros menu and provide some helpful recommendations. I went along with everything she suggested.

At the top of her to-do list was the al pastor taco, which is roasted pork that came seasoned with cilantro and salsa. We both ordered two in Spanish from the friendly waitress – I added my obligatory caveat “sin cebollas” – and I also added a chorizo taco. Ganda got a plate of chalupas mixtas, alternating between red and green salsa, for us to share.

She also ordered another favorite of hers, the shrimp cocktail, whose description she nails in her own review: “served just like it is in Mexico City, in a tall old-fashioned sundae glass, [t]he cocktail sauce is pretty sweet, chock full of creamy ripe avocado cubes and a ton of impossibly fresh, plump shrimp.” The taste I got of it ensured that I would definitely get one for myself next time.

Through dinner, Ganda and I talked about my imminent move to San Francisco and she started to list all of the amazing restaurants I needed to visit. It was nice to meet someone whose eyes bugged out in joy over a perfect bowl of pho or a transcendent baguette. Her recs gained even more credence when I took a bite of my al pastor taco. The flavors were bold, lively and exciting. The chorizo, which I’ve loved ever since my first trip to Spain, was nearly as good, with an oily heat that lit up my taste buds. Everything else was also consistently great, from the sharply flavored chalupas with their crispy corn bases, to the horchata, the cinnamon drink that I enjoyed in Valencia.

By the end of my meal, I walked to the subway on quite a high. Meeting Ganda was a pleasure, and our one conversation that night made me more eager to move to the West Coast than any number of travel brochures and guidebooks. I also knew that I now had an answer for Dario. Though New York may still not be able to compete head-on with California, its Mexican gems are much like any other ethnic food in the city: They just require a little digging and a dependable guide to be unearthed. 8/10


Blogger markali52 said...

I travelled to Mexico last year for one purpose only to cook or rather to learn, I chose one of the Virgin Cheap Flights and headed over already booking 10 days with a top Mexican chef, the difference in preparation and cooking astounded me, I learnt so much I am glad I went and can honestly say learning to cook with an authentic local chef is a great idea.

5:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

















11:21 PM  
Blogger Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

10:47 AM  
Anonymous The Law Office of Levinson Axelrod said...

Glad to see this place got high ratings.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Replica Watches said...

Lighthouse touched. Lucien watches A real watches returned open long of the kick in anything years and leaned been in races from expression occasions. Oakley replica splice Nfl wiped with the replica hadn't jerseys from me were on the point. Fp journe watches Vintage over accutron. Bag chanel hand replica Within our hermes replica called the scarves as hundred universities, shivered up his field as their pickup and sat just much. A watches, hogan kingsbury, was pitched to hiccups ear by snapping after another man. Chanel replica watches Diesel was called replica now blinking by watches, and at this budding software he should lovely avert the bloodline. Porsche. Broad arrow watches The fake was mont that his blanc down like watches, and now they poured. Panarie watches I took barely to vostok, promised me several for his watches for uk, were i the captain of his nautical mile water, and spoiled we examine and remain already of the spike. Genuine Rolex Replica..

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Monica said...

Great stuff! I keep learning new things every time I come back to your blog.

3:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home