Arriving in Manhattan was a bit of a surreal experience. We were there nine years prior, way too much of a gap I know but when you’ve got a whole world to explore it can take some time for revisits to take place. 12 hours from SYD to LAX and a connecting 4½ hour leg across to JFK, it wasn’t all that bad.
I’m loving the new-ish AirTrain to Queens where you simply transfer to the subway and you’re on the island in no time. It only truly felt like the holiday began as soon as we trundled up the stairs from the subway (luggage in tow), skyscrapers towering above with our senses being smacked with that fantastic New York madness.
Food trucks and carts grapple the sidewalks on just about every street corner, a constant blur of yellow cabs scream past and the familiar shove of hundreds of people on their own mission to get somewhere. I was getting hungry.
Once checked into the hotel it was already dark and where to have our first meal didn’t take long to decide. I had a list of options from weeks of research plus tips from friends long enough to last a months eating in New York. It was time to tick one off that list.
First “cab off the rank” came as a recommendation from our next-door neighbours. They were here a couple of weeks before us and were also recommended to drop into this little Mexican grocer on 10th Avenue. I mean look at it!
Tehuitzingo Deli & Grocer is a bit of a one-stop shop for Mexican food products to take home and snack on or whip up a meal. Bags of cornmeal, many types of dried chillies, tinned beans, pastes, salsas, fresh vegetables, Mexican beer and spirits, you name it.
We weren’t here to pick up any provisions and instead walked past the goods, making a bee-line for the dancing disco lights shooting across the floor, walls and ceiling. It’s a short and narrow corridor alive with colourful streamers, lanterns, plastic flowers and neon, Mexican tunes blaring from speakers and a few stools for those lucky enough to nab them.
A pair of small saloon doors mark where the kitchen is and as soon as you’ve given the menu a once-over, simply place your order to the hard-working cook, take a seat and wait to be called. What’s on the menu? Some damn fine tacos, quesadillas, breakfast plates and tortas.
As we waited we helped ourselves to beers from the fridge and before we knew it we were tucking into some of the best tacos I’ve had outside of Mexico.
I wish tacos were this good back at home. Lengua (beef tongue), chicharron (pork skin with salsa verde) and barbacoa (goat meat) were my choices. Chorizo con papas (sausage with potato), al pastor (roast pork) and arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) were for the other half. Help yourself to the cannister of chillies or sauce on the bench, sit back and immerse yourself in the trippy green light and munch away. Man these things are good.