Tacos/Burritos Cart on 54th & Madison (No Sombrero)

I love burritos, and have often lamented about the fact that there is not a good one in Midtown (here, here, here and here).  More than anything that comes from past experience, and experiences.  I have had some truly great burritos over the years, that hold special places in my heart…  the Carnitas Super Burrito at Anna’s Taqueria (Boston), the Chicken Mole Burrito at Casa Diaz in Los Feliz (Los Angeles), the Baja Chicken Burrito at Baja Fresh (locations everywhere in the U.S. except Manahattan!), the Huarache I had two weeks ago at the Ballfields in Red Hook, and finally, the gigantor Carnitas Burrito at La Costena (Mountain View California)… it’s what all carnitas burritos aspire to be.

Erasing all of those delicious burritos out of your mind, there is another category of Mexican food, or tex-mex, or whatever you want to call it that is a decent meal as long as you don’t compare it to the top of the heap.  For example, the Chicken Gordita Supreme at Taco Bell.  A tasty concoction that is perfectly good, and with none of the “side effects” commonly associated with eating at a place like Taco Bell.  It’s a deliciously soft and squishy pita type tortilla, with plain grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream on top.  No fake ground beef, no weird refried beans that send you to the toilet 15 minutes later.  I wouldn’t call it “great Mexican food”, but it’s a decent meal if you have to eat fast food.

A few months ago I discovered the world of Midtown “Taco” Carts when I ate at the Sombrero topped cart on 50th btw. 6+7th.  A world where nacho cheese reigns supreme, and ground beef and stewed chicken are your only two meat choices.  Soft corn tortillas are nowhere to be found, replaced by those crunchy yellow things that I’ve only seen at Taco bell, and in Ortega boxes in the Supermarket.  There are a lot of burritos and tacos I would choose above this type of place… but that doesn’t take away from the fact that if you are into hard shell tacos, and ground beef and nacho cheese- than this kind of place is going to be perfectly satisfying.

Thanks to an email tip, I discovered another Taco Cart (sadly, with no sombrero) for eastsiders looking for a lunch of nacho cheese and ground beef… with a surprisingly decent “chicken burrito”.  Pics and the +/- after the jump….

They don’t have too many ingredients at these “taco carts” and this one is no different, but you can pretty much have whatever you want, in whatever combo of ingredients.  Hard shell taco, soft flour tortilla, corn tortilla chips, ground beef, stewed chicken, black beans, yellow rice, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, sliced jalepenos and of course… nacho cheese.  One Taco, served with rice and beans is $4.50, two is $6.50.  One burrito with rice and beans is $5.50, or you can get the gigantor combo of one burrito, one taco, rice and beans for $7.50.  If you don’t want the rice and beans, a taco ala carte is $3.50, and burrito (with the rice and beans inside) is $4.00.  Finally, there’s a “Taco Salad” which is really just nachos… corn chips covered in everything listed above.

For the sake of the blog, I ordered the $7.50 combo so I could try both items.  Yeah… that’s it.  For the sake of the blog…  I assure you (and my wife), it had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am a fat bastard using this blog as an excuse to stuff my fat face.  Anyway, motives aside, the hard shell taco was what you would expect… the ground beef had a nice peppery flavor, and you can’t argue with a fried corn shell tortilla.  It may not be “authentic” but it certainly tastes good. 

The burrito was smaller than your “normal” burrito, but a decent size- especially for the price.  The chicken inside was surprisingly good… and by that I mean- you could tell it was actually chicken.  Big chunks of white meat chicken, and the sauce was flavorful without being too overpowering.  The lettuce, tomato and sour cream did their job, with some red sauce adding a nice little kick.  The shredded cheese was a nice addition… I’m pretty sure the Cart with the Sombrero only has Nacho cheese.  I didn’t try the nacho cheese… because even I have limits- but if you are into the yellow nacho cheese thing, I’m sure this one won’t disappoint.  The rice and beans were forgettable, but not terrible… with a couple bites of the beans being slightly undercooked- which means they are probably made fresh.

All in all, it’s a pretty good meal at a decent price.  I can’t say I didn’t have to go to the bathroom 30 minutes later… and the people who had to work with me the rest of the day were probably less than thrilled- but it’s usually the price you pay for eating at carts in Midtown.  Here’s the +/- (very similar to that of the sombrero cart… in fact- I think I’ll just copy and tweak it, because I’m lazy).

THE + (What people who like this place will say)

  • I like Hard Shell Tacos
  • I love Nacho Cheese
  • I love nachos with nacho cheese all over them
  • I like beef tacos made with ground hamburger meat
  • The chicken at this cart is actually not bad, with big chunks of white meat

THE – (What someone who wouldn’t like this place would say)

  • I don’t like Hard Shell Tacos
  • I don’t love Nacho Cheese
  • I don’t love nachos with nacho cheese all over them
  • I prefer my beef tacos to be made with shredded beef (I hate ground beef)
  • I like my Mexican food a little more authentic
  • I don’t like eating a sketchy carts
  • Oh, and it’s only open until around 2pm… so make sure to get there before then.

Tacos/Burritos Cart on 54th & Madison (btw. Mad & Park)


  • Hardshell tacos are what you find in Texas…so I reckon that makes them Tex-Mex (so different form Cal-Mex or Mex-Mex) and authentic to that particular cuisine. But what’s up with this cart’s prices? An a la carte taco for $3.50? You’re better off going to Pampano which is bland (save for its haberno salsa) but not only cheaper but cleaner as well, or heck, even Taco Bell.

  • Where do you go on a ridiculously rainy day like today? The concourse? Yuck.

  • Mm, tacos. I make my own but it’s from a box. Haha.

  • You are cracking me up with the bathroom comment…you and I would so get along…too bad you’re married!

  • None compare to a Mission Burrito from any taqueria in San Francisco.

    And be sure to check out the Taco Cart guy on La Cucaracha when he’s around. :-)

  • HI, first time here…I love burritos too…

    Do you speak spanish?


  • Man, you got me thinking about soft shell tacos at Del Tacos.

    Too bad the only really good cheap Mexican food is on the opposite coast. :-(

  • Couldn’t find him on Thursday around 1.00pm. (2/1/07) Maybe mexican food dislikes winter.

  • I just ran into the guy stuck in traffic towing his cart. He is back from winter break. Same place: 54th and Madison.

  • i just wanted to say thanks. It always brings a smile to my parents face when i show them comments like the one you wrote about thier food. My father Jose & Maria Diaz put the same amount of love in the food they serve every customer at Casa Diaz as they did when they made us growing up.

  • Has anyone seen the cart lately. I walked up to 54th and Madison from my office on 43rd in the 90 degree heat and couldn’t find it. I know, crazy to be out walking in this heat but I needed to get my fix.

  • This was my first Mid-Town lunch experience… I was hoping for something to bring me back to the dirty little carts of Mexico, where one can get the tastiest carnitas for 50 cents and be happy as a clam.

    Of course this would come nowhere close to those delicacies, but the cart was sufficiently dirty and the food was acceptable. I has two tacos, one with chicken and one with beef, for the sake of variety, with the works.

    Definitely go with the chicken if you’re checking out this cart, it’s much better seasoned and just tastes a bit more fresh.

    So, for these 2 tasty yet some could say “lacking” tacos, I paid $5. I wasn’t “full” but I was satisfied, so I could definitely find myself at this cart on days I’m feeling particularly stingy, but it’s not an amazing value by any stretch of the imagination.

    Better than taco bell… but $3.50-4.00 would be more acceptable for two little tacos than $5, so be aware.

    I grant this taco stand (which lacked the charm of a little mexican man) a “B+” for ease and taste, but nohigher because of price and lack of better tasting beef… and no pork!!


  • And yes, Anna’s Taqueria in Boston is good, but I, along wiht a few of my friends, will argue that El Pelon is the Best Burrito in Boston.

  • when i get tired of eating my usual rubbery chicken salad ..i look forward to that comfort fod and a nice smile..i missed him 2 times already ..but i love the tacos…to me worth the wait yummy …makes my belly happy

  • i love that beef burrito yummmmy

  • Where’d this great cart disappear to? Haven’t seen him there in probably a month now. Anyone know?

  • Yeah, where did this cart go??? Maybe the guy took a break because of cold weather? I wish he would come back!


  • I know this guy took vacations in Jan Feb in the past, but this year he has not come back. Kinda sad since it was not half bad. I miss my “taco salad”

  • Where is the taco guy!!!!!!!!!!!

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