Located in a small corner of Chelsea Market is Los Tacos No. 1, an unassuming taco stall serving up some of the best tacos in New York City. For something so simple, it’s surprising how hard it is to find a decent taco on the East Coast, until now.
Three friends, from Mexico and Southern California, have answered the prayers of foodies on the East Coast by bringing authentic and delicious Mexican tacos to New Yorkers.
The Los Tacos No. 1 owners goal is simple: fresh ingredients and family recipes. You know the place is legit when fresh tamarindo, jamaica, and horchata is sitting on the counter.
The word is out.
Unless you plan to visit midweek, you can always expect to find a line of hungry customers waiting in front. Don’t let the long lines detour you. On my visit, the line moved quite quickly. The whole operation ran like a well-oiled machine with a two-lined system.
The first line was to pay (credit cards accepted except American Express. $5 minimum). The second line was for submitting your ticket to the cooks behind the counter.
Corn or flour tortilla? This is an important question. Make sure you make up your mind by this point. The cook will ask you this question and will ask you if you want everything on your taco, meaning onions, cilantro, salsa, and guacamole. You can’t go wrong with corn tortillas with everything.
If you plan to stay and eat, be prepared to stand. There was no seating area. It was every man for himself trying to snag one of the coveted standing only spots at the bar.
Los Tacos No.1 Menu
The menu at Los Tacos No.1 was pretty simple.
Tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and mulas with your choice of carne asada (grilled steak), pollo asado (grilled chicken), adobada (marinated pork), and nopal (grilled cactus). You can’t leave without trying the red chili and vinegar marinated pork adobada taco.
There was also a fried quesadilla, known as the especial, which I heard was delicious. If chips are your thing, you can order chips with a side of salsa or guacamole.
Rumor has it there was also a secret menu which included a taco with a tortilla made entirely from grilled cheese.
With tacos in hand, it was time for the condiments. An assortment of salsas, sliced radishes, limes, grilled peppers, and dried arbol peppers for more heat were at my disposable. It was here where you could dress your tacos to your heart’s content. The only problem, the condiments were placed on the counter. Reaching the condiments, blocked by a wall of people standing at the counter, was easier said than done.
Adobada (Marinated Pork) Taco
There are certain foods I would not hesitate flying halfway around the world to try. The marinated pork adobada taco ($3.50) is one of those foods.
This is what you want. This is why people put Los Tacos No. 1 on their food bucket list.
The taco might have been small in size, but it was filled to the brim with pork, onions, cilantro, salsa, and guacamole on a handmade corn tortilla.
All you foodies out there will appreciate the fact that the tortilla was made fresh by hand, from masa. Each tortilla, grilled to order, resulted in a soft and spongy blanket perfect for toppings. Just the right thickness without having to layer two tortillas.
Nothing beats a freshly made tortilla. Don’t even get me started on those tortillas you get from the supermarket which tastes like cardboard. You won’t find those here.
The star of the taco, the spit-roasted pork was sliced fresh to order, al pastor style. The pork was cooked to a perfection that only happens in my dreams. The edges of each piece were crispy and charred, giving each bite a texture that complemented the juicy and tender melt-in-your-mouth pork.
With each bite, I could immediately taste a good kick of heat from the red chili vinegar marinade. Controlling the heat was a generous amount of creamy, almost refreshing, guacamole. This guacamole wasn’t the chunky type you’re used to, more of a puréed version. Balancing out the spicy and creamy explosion of flavors was a hint of sweetness and acid from two small slices of pineapple.
This taco was legit. You need to try it for yourself.
Pollo Asado (Grilled Chicken) Taco
I was tempted to order a second adobada taco, but I knew I couldn’t leave without trying the pollo asado (grilled chicken) taco on a corn tortilla.
The makeup of this taco was almost identical to the previous. A soft, fluffy handmade corn tortilla packed with grilled chicken, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, and onions.
Instead of being spit-roasted, the chicken was fire-roasted on a scorching hot grill until slightly charred and crispy on the outside. In my opinion, this is the best way you can cook chicken.
Each bite of the cubed chicken was juicy, crispy on the outside, with just the right amount of flavor from the grill. The creamy, rich guacamole and slightly spicy salsa were a perfect match with the smoky grilled chicken.
While the pollo asado chicken was fantastic, it just couldn’t compare to the unique flavor of the adobada taco.
As for the service, I don’t have much to report other than it was quick and efficient. Los Tacos No.1 was run like a well-oiled machine. Even when lines appeared, the wait was never long as each employee seemed to know their role. With interaction between customers and employees limited, lines moved quickly. When you are hungry for delicious tacos, lines are never fun.
The hype is real.
If you are in NYC, you must visit Los Tacos No. 1. If you visit Los Tacos No. 1, you must try the marinated pork adobada taco. It was that good, dare I say the best tacos in New York City.
The tacos here might be more expensive than other taco joints in the city (remember you are at Chelsea Market), but for the quality of the food, and freshness of ingredients, you can’t go wrong with Los Tacos No. 1.
- The best tacos in New York City by far
- The pork adobada taco
- Fresh, handmade flour and corn tortillas
- The whole operation was run well, ensuring the shortest wait possible
- Extremely busy on weekends and during lunch hours
- No seating