7 Gourmet Not-Your-Traditional Mexican Tacos in NYC

Flavored with a squirt of lime and a colorful array of Mexican spices and garnishes, tacos, crunchy or soft, are what Taco Tuesdays are made of. But these aren’t your traditional tacos al pastor. Indulging the city’s taco epicureans, Mexican (and other) eateries in Manhattan are filling tortillas with gourmet ingredients, like oxtail, peking duck foie gras, and cow tongue, that you wouldn’t see on the average taco menu.

A taco is only as good as its tortilla, whether it be flour- or corn-based. That’s why many restaurants in New York City source exceptional, quality tortillas locally; others, such as Tacombi, make theirs, in-house, from scratch. Via an intricate, four-step process, corn kernels (sourced from small, sustainable farms in Mexico) after they are cooked, are first soaked for 12 hours in calcium hydroxide, which breaks down the kernels and releases flavor. Next, they are ground up and transferred to a mixing machine that gently kneads the dough. The dough is then hand-fed into a machine, where it is pressed and cut into circles. And finally, it is cooked into perfect taco tortillas.

Of course, they wouldn’t be tacos without the zesty complement of a lime wedge and a side of tortilla chips and guacamole.

Soft Shell Crab
Bodega Negra
355 W 16th Street
(212) 229-2336

Bodega Negra_SoftShellCrabPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Bodega Negra

On a bed of shredded lettuce mixed with creamy guacamole is a petite soft shell crab, with crispy legs suspended from the taco and doused in chipotle aioli. ($21, two tacos)


Empellón Cocina
105 1st Avenue
(212) 780-0999


Spices in the oxtail taco, consisting of assorted vegetables, are kicked up a notch with creamy hot sauce. ($16, two tacos)


Peking Duck Foie Gras
Kappo Masa
976 Madison Avenue
(212) 906-7141

KappoMassa_PekingDuckFoieGrasPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Kappo Masa

Marinated in pineapple-hoisin sauce, roasted duck breast is paired with seared foie gras, hari negi (finely julienned scallion), and crispy duck skin on a soft flour tortilla. ($26, four tacos)


De Lengua
Mesa Coyoacan
372 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn
(718) 782-8171

Mesa Coyoacan_TacosdeLenguaPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Mesa Coyoacan

Noted as “a Mexican street food classic,” the “De Lengua” tacos are made of slowly cooked, thinly sliced grass-fed cow tongue seasoned with onion, cilantro, and salsa verde. ($14, three tacos)


Cochinita de Merida
Tacombi – Bleecker Street
255 Bleecker Street
(646) 964-5984

Tacombi_CochinitaPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Tacombi

Tacos al pastor are upgraded in this “Cochinita de Merida” taco consisting of suckling pig marinated in orange and achiote roasted in a banana leaf. ($3.95, per taco)


Pulpo Y Chorizo
Tacuba Mexican Cantina
802 9th Avenue
(212) 245-4500

Tacuba_PulpoyChorizoPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Tacuba Mexican Cantina

Grub of the land and sea converge in these “Pulpo Y Chorizo” tacos, topped with chorizo, octopus, melted Mexican cheese, chipotle salsa, and pickled habanero red onions. ($13, three tacos)


Tacos De Chapulin
The Black Ant
60 2nd Avenue

TheBlackAnt_grasshopperPhoto Credit: Courtesy of The Black Ant

Roasted whole grasshoppers, guacamole, and chile on plantain tortillas make up these adventurous tacos. ($15, two tacos)