People say that Rosa Mexicana or Mexicana Mama serve the best Mexican food in New York. Bah. They obviously haven’t had dinner at Taqueria Los Jarritos.
Ride the 1 all the way to 190th Street, take the elevator up, and turn left on St. Nicholas Avenue. Look for the blinking lights right next to the old Armenian church. Los Jarritos looks like a grocery store run by a mariachi band, yet hiding inside are four or five plastic wrapped tables, none of which are more than a few feet from a jukebox blaring Mexican hits and classics at top volume.
Grab a menu and order from the pictures. Nobody speaks English and you may get something other than what you were expecting. Here you’ll find hearty, well-done staple dishes from Puebla, not the jack cheese-plastered stuff we consider Mexican food, however comforting it may sometimes be.
Their quesadilla is more like a giant taco. The burrito has a lot more meat and lettuce and much less rice than one done Mission style. The enchiladas are red and green and are hot and HOT. Mole poblano is a spicy, velvety, chicken stew of dark meat barely clinging to the bone. Barbacoa or a young roasted goat is usually on the chalkboard of specials. Tacos are proper and perfect: two corn tortillas, spicy, well-marinated meat, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, radish slices, and wedges of lime. Tacos con todos are $2.50 each. Two will do you for lunch easy.
As the menu clearly says, “Our food is fresh and made when ordered to please wait 5 to 10 Mn until you are served raw meat to cook in 10 to 15 Mn,” so order a Presidente or a fresh-squeezed glass of juice and be prepared to wait. Lean back into the Christmas lights and yield to the superior force of the music. Don’t bother discussing politics, reading a magazine, or fighting with your lover. Just relax and remember you came because you were hungry.
If you were to judge Taqueria Los Jarritos by its shabby, Tijuana-meets-Bollywood appearance, you likely would pass it by. But now you know.
Taqueria Los Jarritos, 1555 Saint Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY. 212-740-2496.