Flatiron Lunch: Cafe el Presidente

Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

In May, Cafe el Presidente opened what looked to be an mini version of Eataly but with Mexican food. Over the past two months they have been rolling open the different components with take out still to come on or around July 1.

Cafe el Presidente wins on atmosphere with a laid back vibe and open space. You are welcomed by a juice counter, which in order to meet the demands of the neighborhood, has a kale drink. They also are properly representing during the World Cup with a massive projection of Univision with full volume. It may be the best place to watch in Flatiron.

Since take out wasn’t an option yet when I went, I grabbed a seat at the communal high tables at the front. In terms of prices (menu link here), I go back and forth on my feelings. $7.95 for an al a carte pastor taco (Gringa Madison) seems completely insane for ML (although, I am sure it would be delicious.) But $12.95 for four carnitas tacos seems reasonable as long as you have a buddy to share with. But then I get more confused by $12.95 for the El Pastor de Madison D.F. platter with includes four pastor tacos. I’m sure there must be an explanation.

In order to try as many things as possible and not just one platter of a single taco (why did I not bring a friend on this adventure!), I ordered two of the more reasonably priced tacos and a side. The esquites ($3.95) grilled corn with cotija cheese and chipotle mayo came out first as was mostly finished by the time taco came out. It was delicious. And while I love eating corn off the cob, I have to say, having it pre-cut for me meant not bits stuck in my teeth.

Next, came the crispy fish ($4.95) taco. With a huge portion of fish and pickled cabbage, the taco was only missing a lime wedge. (Do we think the great lime shortage of 2014 is still happening?)

The final item to come out was the black bean and sweet potato taco ($2.95). I really liked the black beans smeared on the slightly crispy, toasted corn tortilla, but a lime or some salsa was missing. Even though the waiter thought my order was a good “start”, I was perfectly full with the two tacos and corn. And other than a great venue to watch World Cup, Cafe el Presidente will be my go-to to purchase fresh corn tortillas on my way home. They will start selling them by the pound in the next week or so (price tbd).

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

  • Finally, legit tacos in Flatiron.
  • I love the vibe here, so not New York.
  • Fresh tortillas by the pound.

THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)

  • I almost walked out when I saw $8 carnitas tacos.
  • Surprising they still don’t have take out after two months.
  • I would rather not have to share my taco platter with coworkers.

Cafe El Presidente (Tacos “Madison” de Tacombi is the restaurant part of the whole shebang), 30 West 24 Street btwn Broadway and Sixth Avenue, (212) 242-3491


  • $8 for one, and $13 for four? Sounds like someone doesn’t like making one taco at a time.

    $15 for ceviche is the real crime.

    • Would you be more comfortable buying $6 ceviche? :)

      • Kinda, yes! Enough citrus will “cook” anything in a ceviche.

        Even Frontera in Chicago – hardly a cheap or basic destination – serves three decently-sized ceviches for $13-14, with various sea animals in them.

  • I actually went there a few weeks ago for an evening snack. I was pretty annoyed that it’s 4 tacos… I don’t seem to remember there being a 1 taco option but I was also fairly inebriated (thus the need for a snack). I had al pastor and liked it just fine but thought it was fairly expensive since they’re on the smallish side. I was able to eat all 4 even after consuming copious amounts of sugar during the evening’s activities prior to tacos.

    That corn looks soooo good though. I think my friends opted to split the taco platters – I believe the guy wouldn’t let us get a taco platter and get 4 different tacos, so they ordered a couple of different ones and just traded, but agreed, a little annoying to need to have someone to share with.

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    I stopped by 2 weeks ago after visiting time warner cable nearby to cancel my cable TV service (SO PROFOUNDLY SATISFYING!).

    Got the carne asada tacos. They were unexceptional. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit el presidente, particularly with Tres Carnes like 2 blocks away– and Tres Carnes, while not at all authentic, /is/ exceptional.

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    I’m definitely going to stop by for the black bean and sweet potato taco — never seen that combo before. Did they work well together?

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