Tacos Juquilita Brings Its Tacos (And The Tamale Lady’s Tamales) Back to Midtown
It’s been a while since I’ve eaten lunch from a food truck and even longer since I’d had good Mexican food in Midtown, so it was good fortune when I learned that the Tacos Juquilita food truck, a Mexican food truck that had been parked in front of the Mexican embassy (39th btw. Park+Madison) for a short time a while back, had once again returned.
A couple years ago, when the truck first appeared, Donny T. reviewed Juquilita’s tacos and tamales. The tacos were found to be a bit wanting, but unfortunately Juquilita was kicked out of its embassy spot by the police before it got a chance to hit a stride, and moved to 28th St. at 6th Ave.
I wanted to see if the truck had improved since it was last parked outside the embassy, so I got an order of three tacos. They go for $3 each, but an order of three is $8. They come pretty stuffed with meat, so I thought the price was pretty fair, especially since the last place I had tacos in Midtown was Salvation Taco. There were several choices, including chicken and beef, but I couldn’t resist trying out the carne enchilada, chorizo, and cecina.
Donny was a bit upset to find that his tacos came adorned with lettuce and tomato, so I was happy to find that practice abandoned and the tacos coming dressed simply with chopped onion, cilantro, a few slices of radish, and a couple lime wedges.
First up, I tried the carne enchilada. In a word, it was spicy. That’s to be expected with carne enchilada, but this was seriously spicy (a heat level aided by a side of tomatillo salsa). It kind of overwhelmed the pork. Spiciness aside, the chunks of spiced pork had a satisfying, meaty texture. All in all, a pretty good taco that left me regretting my decision not to buy a drink.
Next up was the chorizo. It was similarly spicy, but in a complex way. My apologies for getting a bit foody-ish, but I think I could detect cinnamon or clove. More importantly, I could detect greasy, porky goodness.
My final taco was the cecina, or salted beef, which I’d never tried before. The strips of beef were indeed a bit salty, but the flavor of the meat came through unlike the more heavily-spiced options. The texture was slightly chewy in a pleasant way. It was a bit like beef jerky.
If I had to register one real complaint about the tacos, it’d be that the tortillas (two to a taco) were a bit rubbery. I guess its a bit much to expect handmade tortillas from a truck, but the difference is notable.
I didn’t try the tamales, which Donny gave a favorable review, questioning whether they might even be made by the famous tamale lady that also frequents the Mexican embassy. We can now confirm, the Juquilita truck is run by the tamale lady’s son.
I also tried a chicken torta. Donny thought the chicken was dry. Mine was a bit dry too, like it had been prepared ahead of time and reheated. Still it was flavorful, coated in a reddish blend of spices that was reminiscent of the carne enchilada, only nowhere near as spicy.
For $7, it was a decently big sandwich. All of the usual torta ingredients there, except for beans, which was a little disappointing. There was avocado, stringy Oaxacan-style cheese, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, and an unseasonably ripe, red tomato, but there simply wasn’t enough of them. It was a good torta when I was able to get a bit of each ingredient, but sadly those bites were few and far between. The tacos were definitely a stronger showing.
Juquilita serves a number of other dishes that I didn’t get to try, including chicharron preparado, enchiladas, quesadillas, and sopes. They also have horchata, though they were out when I asked.
I haven’t had much good, authentic Mexican food in Midtown East, so Juquilita, while by no means perfect, is a welcome addition, and worth hitting up when you’ve got a craving for something spicy.
Tacos Juquilita Food Truck, parked on 39th St. btw Park+Madison, 646-399-0043