Tuesday, October 4, 2016

National Taco Day

Today is National Taco Day and while I'm not a big believer in food holidays (although love holidays with food), National Taco Day is something I can get behind.

If you're not familiar with all the choices Jersey City has to help you celebrate (there are a lot), here's a guide to get you started.


My Top Three
My personal favorite Mexican spot in Jersey City is Taqueria Viva Mexico, 133 Morris Street in Paulus Hook. TVM offers dine-in, take out and delivery, very friendly service, and is BYOB. Particularly tasty among the taco options are the barbacoa (lamb), the al pastor (pork with dried chiles and pineapple), and the carne asada (grilled skirt steak) although you certainly can't go wrong with the chorizo. If tacos arent your thing, they have plenty of other great options. I highly recommend the sopes and enchiladas. Pile salsa verde on everything if you're comfortable with a little heat. Also worth a try - the housemade horchata.

Los Tres Chilitos, 456 Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights, flies a little under the radar but there's no denying its popularity. The chorizo and potato flautas are particular favorites and the soft tacos are all delicious. They also offer breakfast burritos and sandwiches if you want to start enjoying National Taco Day at breakfast. Quality can be a little uneven, but they're generous with everything including all sauces and guacamole. Delivery and take out available.

Taqueria Downtown is likely a familiar name with lines frequently out the door and extended waits during the summer for seating in their back patio, although some are put off by the not-always-great service. The tacos are the most popular items and they have one of the best versions of carnitas around. If you're comfortable going beyond the typical meat options, they also have cabeza (beef head) and buche (grilled pork stomach) on offer. The dine-in location has a liquor license (and strong margaritas) and is at 236 Grove while their second location, 354 Grove, handles all their take-out and delivery orders. Fair warning - delivery seems to get particularly soggy.


Tacos Beyond the Norm
Orale MK, 341 Grove, is the upscale, modern version of your average taqueria with prices to match. But - they do have fun, different, innovative, and delicious tacos. Stop by to try out a bone marrow or lobster taco along with the more common barbacoa and carnitas. They also have a whole menu of different types of guacamole worth eating your way through.

Kraverie, a local Korean/French fusion spot at 24 Mercer Street is doing their own version of Korean tacos with your choice of proteins including sesame chicken, spicy pork, galbi short rib, and bulgogi ribeye. The tacos are quite large and full of flavor from the ever-present kimchi.


Good for Vegetarians and Vegans
Tacos aren't just limited to meat-eaters; there are lots of great vegetarian and vegan options out there. Taqueria Viva Mexico offers both grilled mixed vegetables and cactus options, Los Tres Chilitos also has a great cactus taco, and Orale MK has a sauteed seitan taco as well as a couple of different vegetarian and vegan appetizers and entrees.

Burritoville, 424 Grand Street, is another haven for Mexican loving vegetarians and vegans. They offer all of their dishes with soy-based proteins or mixed vegetables and have delivery and take out. While not the most authentic, when you need to fulfill a craving, this more than does the job.


Special Mention
Taqueria Mi Mariachi, 213 Sip Avenue near Journal Square, is one of the names I hear recommended the most when it comes to tacos in Jersey City. That said, the one time I went there, I wasn't impressed - there wasn't a lot of flavor and everything I tried was on the dry side. Based off all the rave reviews I hear though, I often think I must have hit it on an off day and I'll definitely be trying it again. It's pretty small inside; take out is recommended.

El Chilango, a local food truck, serves up Mexican street fare with lots of vegetarian options, great fish tacos, and a good amount of heat if you ask. If you're looking for more than tacos, their burritos are huge and their sopes are very popular. Their location varies but they're often at Harborside for lunch and in the Heights for dinner or for special events and at the Farmer's Market on Sunday. Be prepared to wait a little while especially when they're busy.

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