Monday, May 3, 2010

Fish Taco Face-Off. Pinche Taqueria vs. La Esquina Taqueria.

I hate commitment. I just can't do it. Get the sweats, short breaths, lose focus. Start freaking out. Need to keep things on a whim- no handcuffs. In and out. That's why tacos work well with me. Hand-sized, easy to eat, limited mess (all depends on one's dexterity). They're gone before you know it, so you have the option to order more or switch things up and diversify the portfolio. Fish tacos in particular are healthy, light and refreshing. The perfect mid-afternoon snack. Heading uptown to catch wreck on some Charles' fried chicken at 7? A 3 pm fish taco will hold you down. It's a shame they aren't more prevalent in the Big Apple. NYC is a harbor city you know.

Pinche Taqueria and La Esquina Taqueria are 4 blocks from each other. Prime time taqueria territory. There is another Pinche on Mott between Prince & Spring but I like to move in straight lines- rook status. Closer to a subway too.

Let the battle begin...

La Esquina's Pescado A Las Brasas Taco

This taco consists of grilled market fish with shredded cabbage, red onion and salsa verde ($3.95). The operative word is grilled. It is healthier than the fried version below, but doesn't help much when it comes to taste. The fish has a burnt, acidic, bitter essence. It's not charred, cooked very well in fact, but this underlying unpleasant taste overpowers every bite. Even the accompanying cabbage and salsa couldn't provide a fresh experience, something fish tacos usually do.

Served on a 6" taco, the chunk of fish is dwarfed by the tortilla. 6" taco with a 2.5" chunk of meat. Hmmmm. That means 3"s of just shell and cabbage. It's a rather hefty chunk of fish, and could easily be sliced in half to cover the entire surface area, but isn't. Honestly though, based on the taste it's probably better served in limited portions.

Pinche Taqueria's Taco de Pescado

Line caught mahi-mahi served on a slightly smaller tortilla with cabbage, chopped onion, cilantro and a smooth bright green cilantro dressing. Flavors upon flavors. Textures upon textures. The slender piece of fish is lightly fried having a nice crunchy shell. The fish remains moist and flaky. The fried aspect might irk a few, but the enjoyment and satisfaction should make up for your health quirks.

As mentioned in previous posts, I'm a sucker for cilantro. It adds a clean, cool dimension. And that's exactly how it went down. Big said it best, Cool as a fan, fish tac in hand... No matter what wonders cilantro can do, I don't think it would have helped Esquina's taco.

As a bonus I got Pinche's taco de camaron. Ocean caught shrimp served in similar fashion to the fish, just not fried. Pleasant flavors but over-cooked. A bit dry. For what it's worth several people mentioned that the Mott St. location executes the scrimp taco better.

I like the fact that both spots appear to use fresh, high quality ingredients. Since both places are made to order the wait is usually 5-10 minutes depending on the crowd. But the similarities end there. When it comes to flavor, Pinche is overwhelmingly ahead. El Rey del Taco de Pescados.

View Larger Map

La Esquina Taqueria (A)
114 Kenmare St. on corner of Centre St.
NY, NY 10012
Mon - Sun 12 pm - 1:30 am

Pinche Taqueria (B)
333 Lafayette St. off Bleeker St.
NY, NY 10012
Sun - Thurs 10:30 am - 11 pm
Fri- Sat 10:30 am - 12 am


Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

You should try Cascabel Taqueria on the's 2nd Ave and 81st St and they have some damn good tacos! I love how they have homemade salsas and sauces to go along with the tacos; they make for a unique experience everytime I go. The shrimp taco is my favorite, but the crispy tuna belly is delish as well (I get it without the olives, and top it with their homemade tomatillo salsa).

Host Pay Per Head said...

It is the first time that I heard about it. but I bet that they taste pretty good.