If you live in Brooklyn, own a bike, play your grandfather's guitar and work three jobs (one of them as a professional artist), then you probably know everything this article is about to disclose. For everyone else, I reveal Brooklyn's best budget tacos. The taco is a saving grace because it's delicious, fast and cheap. Yet, a budget taco isn't simply a corn tortilla with a some jarred salsa and grilled meat thrown inside -- the meat must be well-seasoned, the salsa must fresh. In a cutthroat comparison of Brooklyn's most affordable tacos, here are those I found to be best.
Chavellas: How they fit 10 tables in this small, lantern-filled cantina, I'll never know. But if eating Chavella's miraculous tacos means that I have to brush knees with every person in the neighborhood, I'll gladly accept. These little tacos present an array of combinations: aguacate con queso (avocado, queso fresco, black beans, pico de gallo), carne enchilada (pork with pineapple and habanero salsa) and chicken mole (chicken with a traditional rich cocoa-infused sauce). Tacos are $3, $2 if you visit during happy hour (4pm to 6pm). You can order delivery from Chavella's, but the tacos are best when they are handed directly to you from the chef, still steaming.
732 Classon Ave., Brooklyn; 718-622-3100
Oaxaca: Proud of their organic and sustainable food sources, Oaxaca tacos are light and fresh. The ingredient combinations in the tacos especially allow the salsas -- which are made every morning -- to shine. The restaurant serves their tacos individually ($3.25 and $2 during happy hour, 4pm to 7pm) or in combination platters. The carnitas taco -- with sweet and salty braised pork and pickled onions -- was outstanding.
251 Smith St., Brooklyn; 718-643-9630
Solber Pupusa: What is a pupusa? It is the taco's fluffier cousin -- lightly fried corn cakes filled with poblanos, sweet chicken or cheese, then topped with onions, salsa and plaintains. Solber Pupusa is a traveling vendor, serving at the Brooklyn Flea Market as well as seasonal ball games in Red Hook. Their economical, yet filling, pupusa ($4) was a wonderful, softer alternative to the taco and incredibly delicious.
Saturdays and Sundays through April
Brooklyn Flea Market, 1 Hanson Place, Brooklyn; no phone
Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos: Torilleria Taqueria Los Hermanos, once Bushwick's safely guarded treasure, regularly has lunch-crowd lines pushing out of its tortilla factory's doors. While not the most amazing taco in the city (this comment will spark wars, I'm sure), the tacos are pretty darn good, the tortillas are made onsite, the food is cheap ($2.25 a taco) and completely authentic.
271 Starr St., Brooklyn; 718-456-3422
Taco Honorable Mentions:
El Diablo Taco Truck, La Superior, Tacos Matamoros