The Real Mexican McCoy in Manhattan

By: Ashley Bode

This month we're celebrating street food and street culture. Many of us have limited experience with street food and only hot dog stands or ice cream trucks come to mind. Those who have had the opportunity to travel abroad have perhaps witnessed or perhaps tried street food on their travels. One of travel's pitfalls, however, is missing the food upon returning home. 

In Puerto Vallarta, like most of Mexico, there's a lively street food scene. From tortas and shaved ice, to ceviche and taco stands, locals spend their pesos at makeshift, curbside restaurants. Many carts have long lines of hungry people, stools or chairs set out front for sitting and TVs inside the cart for cooks to watch telenovelas as they cook. I fell in love with street food on my third trip to Mexico and every visit since I've eaten alongside taxi drivers, cleaning ladies and school kids instead of in stuffy, tourist driven hot-spots.

When I found the Tacos Morelos stand on 2nd Street and Avenue A in Manhattan's Alphabet City on the Lower East Side (yes, there is a sister location in Williamsburg and a sit-down location in Jackson Heights), I knew I had found something as close to Mexican street food as I ever would. On the northwest corner of the intersection is a small taco stand, open 24 hours, serving up everything from lengua tacos to burritos with authentic, fresh chorizo. Unlike the stands in Mexico, there are no stools or plastic lawn chairs for diners to lounge on, nor is there a television to keep the taco stand's cook occupied. There is, however, a line of happy, hungry locals.

Pricing is affordable, making the snack worth your change. These are not the $.70 tacos from Mexico, but they are certainly worth it at about $2.50 an order (each taco comes with two soft, corn tortillas.) Burritos cost $7.50, tostadas $3.00 and tortas $5.00. It's a small price to pay to be able to depart from the chain burrito and fast-food taco. Consider it an excuse to escape the bars and pricier food spots in the neighborhood.

If you're looking for something that is smothered in sour cream, covered in American cheese and served in a crunchy shell, look somewhere else. Try the barbacoa taco, the Tacos Chile Relleno and I hear that the tortas are just as delicious as they sound. Ask the cook what they prefer, they are happy to offer suggestions.

Photo: Ashley Bode

To read Ashley's original post, click here.

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