Los Tacos No. 1

The origin of the taco is mostly unbeknownst to mankind, but one theory persists. According to the Smithsonian, the taco is believed to have originated from the 18th century silver mines of Mexico. “[T]he word “taco” referred to the little charges [the miners] would use to excavate the ore. These were pieces of paper that they would wrap around gunpowder and insert into the holes they carved in the rock face.” Since then, the taco has made its way to the US—first through the migrants who came to work on the railroads and in the mines—and soon the ingredients were adapted to what was available locally such as lettuce and minced meat. Today, tacos are everywhere. From Taco Bell to Chipotle and fancified versions at high-end restaurants, the taco continues to win over the hearts of any who chance upon it. I mean, how many people do you know who absolutely hate tacos?

To celebrate our love for this wrapped delicacy, we headed over to Los Tacos No. 1 located in Chelsea Market. According to their website, Los Tacos No. 1 was founded by three close friends from Tijuana, Mexico, and Brawley, California whose goal was to bring the authentic taco to the East Coast. Right next to the spice shop in the middle of Chelsea Market, this small taco place is usually packed. When we arrived one evening, there was already a line forming with people fresh out of work looking for a quick bite before heading out. Luckily, the line moved fairly quickly and we soon found ourselves ordering the carne asada and chicken tacos, along with the especial quesadilla and a sweet hibiscus drink called Jamaica. Ordering is easy, but to actually get your food, you need to be quick and push your way through the throng of customers, either waiting for their food or eating at the counter, to hand your ticket to the cooks. Once our dishes arrived we quickly piled on some pico de gallo, spicy sauce and grabbed a few lime wedges and headed over to an empty corner. There are two options for the tortillas, flour and corn. We somehow ended up with corn (make sure to specify!), which and had a nice yellow hue with a slightly chunky texture. Our favorite was the carne asada taco which was filled with perfectly seasoned meat, green sauce, and fresh pico de gallo. All this was devoured in minutes. Yes, it was that good, but also the tacos were small, making us wish we had ordered a bit more. Next time!

Los Tacos No. 1
Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave
New York, NY

La Esquina

When our parents came to visit New York, Naomi and I both agreed that La Esquina in Soho was the perfect place to take them out for a Mexican dinner. Good Mexican food is hard to come by in Japan, and La Esquina was just simply done and perfect for a casual dinner.

The Tortilla Soup is one of our favorite dishes at La Esquina. It is a hearty spicy soup with a light aromatic broth that includes generous chunks of chicken, avocado, and strips of still-crunchy tortilla strips.

Curious to know the origins of the Tortilla Soup, I did a little research only to find that no one truly knows the origins of it. According to an article I found on the LA Times website, tortilla soup is not found all over Mexico. Rather, it has a strong concentration in the region of Mexico City, possibly where this delicious soup originated. If you want to read more about the history of this mysterious soup, click here.

This simple, no-fuss Mexican restaurant offers the tortilla soup to go, or if you have the time to sit down, your soup will be served in a cute bowl resembling a witch’s pot (pictured above) – perfect dish for a Halloween dinner. Enjoy!

La Esquina
114 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012