Because I so rarely eat them in New York City, I may have not properly expressed to you Brunch with Bearees how much I love tacos. A plate of soft tacos in Southern California is cheaper than the average pint of ice cream in New York City (which reminds me, we should discuss the price of ice cream in New York City) and they’re pretty much a staple in our household. In fact, my most recommended tourist destination in Los Angeles—besides the Getty museums, of course—would be one of the taco places in my hometown. Last spring, my dad and I discovered a place with all the vibes and flavors of home: Otto’s Tacos.
Luckily for you, Otto’s Tacos has multiple locations in the city, spreading over the East Village, West Village, and Hell’s Kitchen. The one we visited is the one closest to NYU, located at 2nd Avenue between 8th and 9th Streets, and quite easy to find. For everyone else, Otto’s Tacos is a few blocks’ walk from either the 8th Avenue – NYU station on the N, Q, or R trains, or from the Astor Place stop on the 6 train.
Boasting an “LA-inspired” energy, Otto’s Tacos serves classic California soft tacos that are definitely reminiscent of some tacos back home. Even the set-up was more casual than other tacos we’ve had, with a cashier for orders, and a separate station for pick-up with the food served on reusable metal trays. We ordered a selection of chicken, carnitas, and carne asada tacos as well as some chips and salsa.
Even more so than I am, my dad is a taco connoisseur and Otto’s Tacos definitely held up to our standards. The tiny tortillas were packed with juicy, flavorful meats and topped with a deliciously spicy salsa, cilantro and onions—no lettuce, no cheese, no sour cream, just like a California soft taco should be. Although the salsa was a tad spicier than I usually choose, it really complemented the savory grease of the meats. Each bite of the each taco was delicious, though I tend to favor the pork and beef tacos as a personal preference. The best part is that the tortillas are handmade on site, and are definitely a job well done. Above all, the tacos were incredibly fresh, and worth the few minutes of waiting.
Comparatively the chips were ordinary, but well-salted and came with a large quantity of salsa verde which was delicious as an appetizer and a side dish. I wouldn’t say that the chips alone are worth the trip, but I also would never turn down a decent helping of chips and salsa.
The atmosphere of Otto’s Tacos is certainly hipster-chic via NYU crowd, and the limited seating makes it difficult to snag a table during mealtimes. However, the service is welcoming and friendly, and the small tables are relatively clean. We are sometimes concerned about cross-contamination, especially with cheese and cream, but Otto’s was very friendly and accommodating. (It helps that traditional California soft tacos are usually served without that dairy nonsense.)
While the prices are not as cheap as one of my dad’s favorite taco huts, the tacos are a much more affordable alternative to one of the sit-down cantinas that we’ve visited previously. Another bonus factor is that it’s close to our favorite ice cream place and St. Mark’s Comics, which is a well-stocked gem of a comic shop.
Although we rarely get a chance to rave about our love for tacos on the blog, we’re thankful that Otto’s Tacos gave us the opportunity. The next time we make a stop for an ice cream Sunday, we might have to make it a Taco Sunday as well, because Tuesday always seems so far away when it comes to tacos.