Even with cheap eats, it is tough to get a proper read on just how good the food actually is when it’s delivered. The jostling in the car or on the bike as it comes your way changes the composition. Fitting the food into a transportable container that removes any added value that comes from the presentation at a sit down place. This is particularly true in the winter when your food can go from steaming hot to room temperature in the time it takes the delivery guy to bike from the Lower East Side to Union Square. Doubly so this past winter.
I came to this realization working late one night after ordering from Taquitoria – the home of taquitos in the Lower East Side. Some of what I ordered was good, some was just ok. But I chalked it up to the bitterly cold evening conditions playing tricks with the once-warm food. So, my buddy and I decided to visit Taquitoria and try the rolled, fried tacos in person.
Having read the reviews for Taquitoria, the Buffalo Chicken was highly recommended. Not one to quibble with a good thing, I asked the guy behind the counter on a recent Tuesday evening for an order of buffalo chicken taquitos. The guy said, “Sorry, man. Those are only available on Sundays.”
Undeterred, we each ordered the Cheesy Pork Taquitos. A quick lesson here – classic = guac sauce, shredded lettuce, cotija cheese; cheesy = nacho cheese, sour cream, and pickled jalapeno relish.
The pork taquito succeeds where the chicken taquito does not. The pork has a taste. It is spicy and when matched with pickled jalapeno and paired with nacho cheese and sour cream makes for a great taste balance. The chicken taquito falls short because it has so little taste to it. The most distinct thing about it is that it is shredded.
And it was that fact that kept me thinking about the buffalo chicken taquito. If it’s only served on Sundays, it must be really special. Maybe the chicken has buffalo sauce and ranch with it on the inside of the taquito. Maybe the taquito has that buffalo chicken you sometimes see behind the deli counter.
I started telling friends and co-workers about it. They got intrigued. We decided to go on a Sunday afternoon to try the buffalo chicken taquito. It had become something mythical. Off-the-menu and only available one day a week. Scarcity creates demand and we had become a demanding bunch.
So, maybe it was the buildup that led to the disappointment. The five us were the first customers of the day. I stepped up and ordered the cheesy buffalo chicken taquitos. The guy behind the counter tells me I don’t need to go cheesy since they come with ranch and buffalo sauces. He’s the buff chix taquito expert so I defer to him. A few minutes after all of us order the first sign of trouble arises. The guy goes to the back and comes out with small containers of buffalo and ranch sauce.
And then it hits when he brings the buffalo chicken taquitos out. They are the chicken taquitos. Only ranch and buffalo in condiment cups on the side. Without the cheesy or classic toppings, the taquitos look as uninspiring as the chicken tastes. My buddy who’d come on the first visit was there as well and he was equally disappointed by the realization that off-the-menu secret was actually very much on menu and very much underwhelming. The item only available on Sunday is dipping sauces.
My other friends had the pork taquito which was still great. The classic steak which I tried was good – much closer to the pork in terms of quality. A friend of mine who has gone to other cheap eats places with me said this was the best she’d been to. She had the steak taquitos. The chips and salsa have a nice flavor to them with the salsa going from mild at first taste to a zesty medium on second taste.
Taquitoria is the type of the place that doesn’t make any qualms about what it is. You can see the guys behind the counter taking pre-rolled, pre-fried taquitos out and heat them up after people order. It’s easy to let the buffalo chicken taquito debacle color one’s opinion of the place, but when it comes to taquitos, two out of four is pretty good.