Taco Bite Takes a Bite Out of Authenticity
I haven’t worked in Midtown in over 10 years, and rely entirely on Midtown Lunch for my information. Now that I’m writing for ML, I rely on its readers to tell me what I should be eating – so when reader “locondcoco” suggested I check out Taco Bite, I headed over there.
While “locondcoco” said he’d enjoyed the “burrito platter” – Taco Bite’s version of Chipotle’s burrito bowl, or just the innards of a burrito served in a container without the tortilla – I opted to go a different route, so that I could try more of the proteins and report back to y’all. This presented a slight problem for me, as I personally don’t care very much for soft corn tortillas. Thankfully, they offer crunchy tacos, though I fully admit I was pretty wary with showing the readers of ML that I ordered crunchy tacos after they ripped the last reviewer of Taco Bite a new one over the word “authenticity”.
After a brief wait to get my tacos, I made my way to sit in the plaza at 47th and Park, where they seem to prefer setting up most weekdays. When I opened the container, I was immediately surprised by a few things: the radish (the attempt at, cough, authenticity or what I’ve experienced from the taco trucks in Oakland, CA, threw me a little); the size of the tacos – $3/each but these were HUGE and pretty stuffed!; and the shells. For some reason, I’d assumed they’d fry their own – otherwise, not sure why I had to wait so long for them to fill my shells with what mostly should have been prepped ahead of time – and honestly, is it that hard to fresh fry corn tortillas? Serious question: I used to have access to routinely freshly-fried chips, shaping them can’t be that much more difficult.
Initially, I’d wanted to order chorizo but they were out. Though the guy suggested the tinga (shredded chicken marinated in their chipotle adobo sauce) instead, I chose, left to right: carnitas; carne asada; al pastor. While I waited, I heard a lot of people ordering tinga; I’m not sure if they were pushing it or if it was that good, will have to try it next time.
With such a wide combination of toppings from which to choose, I went very standard to make things simple. The choices are a little surprising – I wish they had maybe a list of suggested toppings for each protein, because it seems some of these toppings would be a terrible idea on some of the meats. In any case, I chose onion, cilantro and tomato, after asking and finding out the cheese is a blend of monterey and cheddar. Weird blend to offer on tacos that seem to be trying to be better than Taco Bell…? And for my sauces, chipotle crema and avocado delight.
The carnitas, carne asada and al pastor were all individually flavorful and moist meats. I most enjoyed the al pastor, which, aside from having been obviously braised in pineapple juice, included chunks of pineapple, lending it a nice sweetness that balanced out the very tiny kick from the chipotle crema. The avocado “delight” added a bit of richness as well. So my main problem here… these processed taco shells – Ortega Flats, I believe, with the flat bottom so they can stand up while you stuff them – were stale. I’m guessing not a lot of people order them, or maybe it was so humid that day, an open package of shells became super stale. FAIL. Or you can say it was a fail on my part for ordering them.
Despite that, I managed to power through and eat all three. It helped that the innards were really tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed them – and I’d not been given a spoon or fork to eat just the fillings anyway. Next time, I’m definitely getting the burrito platter, maybe hold the rice and beans and just have it over lettuce. I was super stuffed after the three huge tacos.
By the way, if you’re a lady looking to pick up a banker, apparently sitting on the ledge outside the JP Morgan Chase building there, stuffing your face with tacos, is the perfect place to get hit on. No less than THREE suits approached me separately to first ask me what I was eating and where I got it, and then proceeded to try to awkwardly prolong the conversation. I guess being able to scarf down three tacos is impressive or something. (If you’re a banker looking to pick up ladies this way, it doesn’t work. I was just annoyed that my lunch was interrupted.) Maybe I should have told them to find out on Midtown Lunch, haha!
THE + (what people who like this will say)
- Flavorful meats? Sign me up!
- I like lots of toppings!
- HUGE tacos!
- Crunchy tacos, om nom nom
- So many choices…
THE – (what people who don’t like this place will say)
- This is like Taco Bell trying to elevate themselves
- $9 for three tacos is a rip
- I prefer my Mexican food closer to Taco Bell
- Who puts Monterey Jack and cheddar on real tacos?
- Stale crunchy tacos is an abomination.
Taco Bite, NE corner of 47th Street and Park Avenue
Though you should double check their Twitter before heading out, it seems like they’ve taken to setting up shop at 47th and Park more often than not.