Our latest installment of Quick Bites brings us to Bushwick's excellent new taco spot.
Right off the bat, as soon as you see the eye-catching exterior, you get the idea that Taqueria Al Pastor is run by people who care about what they're doing. Bringing plenty of personality and tons of terrific food to the corner of Wyckoff and Stanhope in Bushwick, this vibrant Mexican spot is an instant neighborhood treasure from several local restauranteurs.
The taco truck mural, framing one of several smallish windows on the facade, is clever and inviting, the faux "awning" a nice touch. Another window, this one overlooking the eastern entrance of the Dekalb L station, displays a collection of impressively dramatic cacti. A vegetable-centric mural awaits inside, as well as a crazy amount of colorful Mexican tiles bordering the ordering counter and open kitchen. There's still work to be done—most notably, the place needs a sign—but I love the energy and attention to detail in the design.
There are only about a dozen stools scattered before a narrow, wrap-around counter, but this is food that begs to be eaten in a hurry, and seat turnover is high. You order at the register, where a staffer will be happy to efficiently explain the difference between, say, Volcanes and Gringas, and then you bring your ticket to the kitchen station, about three steps away. Even though everything is made to order, including the tortillas, your feast will be ready within minutes.
It's difficult to overstate just how good everything is at Taqueria Al Pastor. The namesake spit-grilled pork, the griddled carne asada, and the well-seasoned pollo were all so tender, juicy, and exploding with flavor that I have to believe you will be as happy as I was feasting there. And the joint's vegetarian option, the Opuntia cactus known as nopal, was also superb, cooked firm and tangy and bright.
The tortillas, which come in either corn or flour, are delicious as well, and served just-off-the-grill warm. Fillings are piled on with a generous hand, including the creamy guacamole, and the red salsa really packs a punch. Want more flavor? Spoon on some of the smoky tomatillo sauce from the ornate crock on the counter. Limes and sliced radishes are also up here for your pleasure, but the balance among and heft of the ingredients are already pretty perfect.
You can get all four primary fillings (and either tortilla type) in any of the six available formats. The Tacos, overflowing with amazingness, are the best in NYC right now, and the Burrito I had, fat with rice and beans in addition to the meat and salsa, was also stellar. The Volcane distinguishes itself by its super-crisp tortilla, the Gringas is prepared here almost like a sandwich (and, as such, is the messiest of the options), and the Quesadilla delivers the requisite amount of gooey melted cheese. Drinks include housemade Horchata and bottles of Jarritos.
Such excellent stuff, all of it. Taqueria Al Pastor is not only a dream-come-true addition to the this part of Bushwick, it's well worth whatever L train nonsense the MTA throws at you to get here from points farther away.
Taqueria Al Pastor is located at 128 Wyckoff Avenue, at the corner of Stanhope Street, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.