It was Cinco De Mayo and where else are you going to go but an authentic Mexican Place. How do you know it’s an authentic Mexican place? The first indication you get is if they serve Lengua (tongue). In my experience, this has been one of the key factors in determining how authentically Mexican a place is. No tongue, no chance you’re getting decent mexican food. The second indication is that it’s not the cleanest place you’ve ever been in. I don’t trust the super clean Mexican places; too much fluff and design and not enough real food. The third thing you notice is the tacos come with two tortillas. The reason they come with two tortillas is to keep all the meat in. If you don’t have two, the first tortilla could break, and you’d be screwed. The fourth thing is the cheese. You know the cheese I’m talking about – it’s on all four of the Tacos below. I don’t know what it’s called, but I call it the Oaxacan cheese. If it’s missing any of that, I would have to say the authenticity is suspect.
The restaurant has room in the back to accomodate about 12 guests, and then they have this place next door (which I’m assuming they bought from a business that wasn’t as thriving as the Taqueria) for the overflow, and on the fifth of May, you better believe there was overflow.
Let’s talk tacos:
The Lengua Taco: always one of my favorites – this tongue was a bit drier than some that I’ve had before, but still hit the spot – flavor was good, a tad spicy, fat content was right there, but I think it was a bit more iron-y than some I’ve had recently.
The Tripe Taco: This is what we came here for, ladies and gentlemen. I got this recommendation a while back, and though I’ve never tried tripe, I was eager to do so. It tasted like a harder calamari if the calamari skin bubbled up like a pork rind just slightly. Peppery and spicy, This taco was a force to be reckoned with. I can’t imagine their carne asada to be as good as this one, but I’ll be back to try it (yes, I can be back if there’s a dish I need to try for comparison’s sake).
The Pig Ear Taco: You better believe that I ordered the pig ear taco! Would you respect me if I didn’t? I never back down from a challenge (plus, I’ve already had pig ear this year and rather enjoyed it). Again, this was a total consistency play – you can see the white cartilage encased in the fatty skin of the ear. If you like to chew the ends of the chicken wing off, you’ll be in luck with this taco. If not, I suggest you start with the ends of the chicken wing, and work your way up to pig ear.
The Cactus Taco: Here’s a recipe for the same type of cactus taco they serve at Taqueria Y Fonda, but there’s a difference in preparation with the grilling of these tacos. It had to be my least favorite taco of the bunch, but I’m a carnivore. If you’ve ever had grilled okra, this is pretty much what that tastes like. If you never have tried grilled okra, there’s no need to start there, just dive into the cactus taco. It’s fun just to say you ate it.
Most Manhattanites aren’t going to go for any of this, but I would encourage you to be more adventurous with your palate and try these tacos. They aren’t scary. La Esquina serves tongue – it’s hit the mainstream.
Like I said, I’m coming back to Taqueria Y Fonda, and that means something. I’ll try the al pastor, chicken, carne asada, barbacoa, carnitas … I don’t know, but I know I’ll be back. The place is fantastic and it’s worth a trip uptown to check out.
Taqueria Y Fonda
968 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10025