At this year's New York City Wine And Food Festival, I ate 34 tacos and 15 kinds of fried chicken. My gluttony began Friday night, on 26th Street, at Texas-style barbecue joint Hill Country, which was playing host to a fried chicken tasting called, simply, Fried.
The first few chicken limbs I ate were frankly disappointing. The crust was soggy, the meat was lukewarm and the accompaniments were uninspired. Fried's organizers must have realized that setting the best chicken dishes up right at the entrance would create a logjam. So they installed New York City favorites Pies N' Thighs, Red Rooster and Blue Ribbon in the basement. The downstairs dishes delivered -- especially Blue Ribbon's matzoh-encrusted fried chicken, the best, crispest chicken served that evening.
Here are some photo highlights from Fried; all are by Joe Satran/The Huffington Post:
The next night was Tacos and Tequila. Tacos are not necessarily much more difficult to eat than fried chicken -- in terms of ease of digestion, the salsa element is more or less evenly matched with the fried element -- there were many more tacos on offer at Tacos and Tequila than there were fried chickens at Fried. Trying everything there was a bigger challenge. Sometime around taco number 19, I was sure I'd have to raise a white flag -- but then, with the help of a calming sip of Patron tequila, I pushed through.
In the end, though, I managed to taste all 34 tacos at Tacos and Tequila -- all to be able to tell you, definitively, the three best versions. In addition to Balaboosta, I loved the tacos from Midtown Mexican restaurant Toloache and Thai hotspot Kin Shop, in the West Village. I wish I could say things went as well afterwards as they had after Fried, but that would be lying. I felt very ill, and did not wake up hoping to eat more tacos.
Here are a few photo highlights from Tacos and Tequila -- I hope they're worth the two to three pounds I gained to take them. As before, credit for all photos goes to Joe Satran/The Huffington Post: