Our city gets a bad rep when it comes to Mexican food, with snobs from West Coast insisting we wouldn't know a real taco even if we Instagrammed it taking up an extra seat on the subway. I'd argue we have more than adequate tacos if you know where to look, especially if your searches bring you to newly opened Otto's Tacos in the East Village. Owner Otto Cedeno and chef Joe LoNigro designed the taqueria like the ones they loved in LA, where the food was fresh, fast and dirt cheap.
They're succeeding on all fronts there, with the tasty tacos topping out at $3.50. They're also doing everything in house, including their addictive corn tortillas, which you can watch being pressed out on a nifty-looking piece of machinery behind the counter. Don't miss the shrimp tacos: tender, succulent shrimp coated in a salty spice mix, then topped with a creamy sauce, raw white onions and chopped cilantro. The carne asada is also excellent, with lots of charred flavor and a kick of heat from salsa roja. Regardless of the filling, the meat and veggies are well-packaged in the delicious tortillas; if you're only familiar with the pre-made variety, you're in for a big awakening.
In addition to taco casings, Otto and crew are using their masa dough to make "fries" by rolling the dough out thick, cutting it into strips and chucking it in the fryer. They're difficult to describe: crisp like a regular potato fry but the interior texture more granular. They're serving up their creation with a spicy chipotle mayo; get ready to keep dunking and dunking even after you're already full. They're also frying up ridiculously tasty churros with dulce de leche dipping sauce, but Otto revealed they won't be on the menu for much longer, so hurry before they're nixed. Wash everything down with some of their house-made horchata or some of that Mexican Coke you kids are always raving about.
141 2nd Avenue, (646) 678-4018; ottostacos.com