It is an unwritten law that truly excellent tacos should be served on paper plates. For all of the high-end Mexican eateries cropping up around the city, some of the very best are at places like Los Tacos No.1 -- an unassuming Chelsea Market stall doling out tortilla chips in wax paper bags, and horchata in to-go coffee cups. On most days, the line -- which is more of a tangled mob -- is a spectacle unto itself. Customers wait their turn to pay, and then confirm their orders by handing their receipts to the chefs in the next window. In other words: be assertive, or go hungry.
Founded by a team of three friends from Tijuana, Mexico and Brawley, California (noted taco capitals), Los Tacos No.1 now has a No.2: a recently opened outpost in Times Square. And while it’s easy to be skeptical about any business with locations in both Chelsea Market and Times Square (tourist hell-holes, both), Los Tacos No.1 is an exception. The tortillas, available in flour or corn, are hand-made throughout the day; the pico de gallo is always fresh; and the signature guacamole is the stuff of dreams.
As for the fillings, it’s hard to go wrong. If you’re leaning towards tacos, opt for the smoky carne asada, the grilled cactus, or the marinated pork topped with grilled pineapple. When it comes to quesadillas, however, it’s an easy decision: pollo asado. For $4.50, help yourself to a dense, house-made tortilla, loaded with melted cheese and chunks of juicy seasoned chicken. Top it off with a helping of guac, and some of the specialty cilantro-heavy pico de gallo, and then wash it all down with a milky, semi-sweet horchata. It’s the kind of meal that makes even Chelsea Market bearable.