Taquiera Al Torito, the family owned and operated taqueria, is the latest to set up shop in the Atascocita-On-the-Hudson (AGH) neighborhood, which is located near Long Island College Hospital and the site of a progressive housing project recently built on the corner of 66th and James streets.
Located just a block north of the World Trade Center, the eatery is likely among the more visually striking restaurants that have popped up in the area, and the buildouts haven’t stopped there.
When word began spreading last month that it was located in the neighborhood, hundreds of customers from Queens showed up to sample their elote, handmade corn tortillas stuffed with a combination of house chicken, beef, pork and other ingredients.
The restaurant owners, Francisco, Maria and Jose Alvarado, said they have the feeling that they are living in an age where customers just can’t go wrong with tacos, burritos and orcasitas.
They said that they feel lucky to be serving something unique to a community that does not have an eatery like they do in Queens that serves strong cultural diversity.“It is surprising to see how it is changing,” Francisco said. “The people who came in, they didn’t come to go see if the menu had changes. They came because it is a taco place.”
The chefs at Taquiera Al Torito feel that they might not be able to attract the same amount of people if they didn’t offer a different take on the Mexican dish.“The taco experience we are doing is really different. Everything we have here has different textures and flavors,” Francisco said. “The New York market has a perception of tacos but here it is a proper Mexican meal.”
Though they said that they don’t use the same techniques that New York restaurants use, Francisco pointed out that the flavors of El Mazrilas are the same as the ones that were used at nearby El Colegio.
The Alvarado’s even introduced a couple other food items to the menu that have the typical ingredients used at city restaurants.“We like to use a traditional corn tortilla with different meat mixture that doesn’t call for the whole breading,” Francisco said. “That is why they say there is a mole in corn tortillas.”
In addition to the special tacos, the menu at Taquiera Al Torito is extensive, including desserts such as tacos de coche, filled with roasted garlic, madeira, caramel, vanilla and chocolate, and candy that consists of cherries, pretzels, oranges and caramel on top of apple chutney.
They also offer a new entree every month that they hope to expand on. The results have been nothing short of amazing so far, Francisco said.
There are now eight to 10 people registered to eat there at a time, and Francisco is not going to stop until all the orders are taken.
“We are very happy and we hope we can keep going,” Francisco said.
The food is a hit with the customers that have walked in to taste the creation.
“There is a great difference in taste. You have to have a little understanding in your mind of what you are doing to get into that restaurant,” said Joe Gonzalez, who stopped by to taste the stuffed burritos and tacos as well as the Molten Blanco sour cream and sour cream filled burritos.