Newsday food writer Andi Berlin checked out Guatemalan-style tacos at Garcia's Taco Bar, a former school bus turned food truck in Central Islip. Credit: Randee Daddona; Photo credit: The Associated Press

It's an exciting time for tacos in Long Island's corner of Puebla York. As the world wakes up to the eclectic flavors of regional Mexican food, Long Island chefs are hopping on the birria bandwagon, experimenting with fusion hybrids and thinking about how to source a more flavorful and sustainable corn tortilla. 

As experts proudly say in the Netflix documentary "The Taco Chronicles," New York has long had a thriving community of Mexican immigrants from Puebla and Oaxaca. Their complex moles and chili-glazed meats thrive across Nassau and Suffolk counties, but the tacos are typically sold at delis alongside Central and South American staples like pupusas and Honduran breakfast baleadas. Many of Long Island's tastiest tacos are cooked by people of Salvadoran and Guatemalan heritage. Maria Gutierrez of Taqueria El Sabor Poblano in Hicksville, a strictly Mexican shop, says this is one of our strengths. It's an expression of Latino unity.

“The bodegas are all mixed up, but as communities we want to celebrate all Latino culture, and that’s OK," she says. "Everyone loves tacos, all kinds, no?”

So tacos are the gateway to a world of Latin American flavors. But as you'll see on this list of 15 standout taco spots, they're also more playful than ever. Trendy spots like Hermanas in Lindenhurst take a veg-forward approach with toppings like roasted rainbow carrots and Brussels sprouts in blackberry vinaigrette. The Queens-based Ruta Oaxaca, with its second location in downtown Patchogue, goes Jackson Pollock with its salsas, flicking the bright colors across the taco in a torrent of chili spice. La Pasadita in Bayville makes its vibrant, flavorful Veracruz-style longaniza in-house, and Garcia's Taco Bar in Central Islip smokes gorgeous carne asada from a decked out Guatemalan chicken bus. 

So without further ado, here are the best tacos on this ever-progressing culinary island.


Taqueria El Sabor Poblano

60 E. Marie St., Hicksville

Just between the residential streets of Hicksville and the train station, a tiny world of Poblano delicacies — including mole on the weekends — exists. Maria Gutierrez and her family run this lively spot, complete with all-day telenovelas on the flat-screen and a rainbow wall of backlit Jarritos bottles that dazzle and dance. Everything from lengua to cecina and cabeza (tongue to cured beef and cow’s head) is served on terracotta plates just like you’d find in Puebla. Gutierrez sources her tortillas from La Guadelupana, a Mexican grocery in Queens. Her salsas are fresh and fiery, and her cemitas — a Poblano-style sandwich we couldn’t help but sample — are equally off the charts. Having created a robust business since their mid-pandemic opening in 2020, they are looking for a new space. Hopefully, they bring the Jarritos wall. Tacos run from $3.99 — $6.99. More info: 516-605-1670;

Chicken tacos al pastor at Taqueria el Sabor Poblano in...

Chicken tacos al pastor at Taqueria el Sabor Poblano in Hicksville. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Homemade Taqueria

243 Fulton Ave., Hempstead

Poke around Fulton Avenue and you can find a wealth of taquerias boasting cartoonish names like Taco King and Mr. Taco. The unassuming Homemade Taqueria (a mini-chain in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Great Neck) has a legit selection of huaraches, picaditas and tortas on actual Telera bread — plus excellent tacos. The carne asada, served on a double layer of corn tortillas topped with onions and cilantro, was juicy and tender despite the char. The chorizo has just the right kick, while the al pastor leveled the sweetness of the pineapple with some succulent, spiced pork. The tart hibiscus agua fresca rounded out the meal, and the playful orange, pink and yellow walls made us want to linger longer than necessary. Tacos hover around $4; three birria tacos with consommé for $13.95. More info: 516-483-6151;

A carne asada taco at Homemade Taqueria in Hempstead.

A carne asada taco at Homemade Taqueria in Hempstead. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

La Pasadita Taqueria

80 Bayville Ave., Bayville

Sergio Plauchu Ochoa learned his craft in his mother’s 20-year old CDMX taqueria. In 2018, he launched the Milas y Planchas truck in Hicksville, and by 2021 he was ready for a brick and mortar spot. Now he's turned a former deli into a funky taqueria of his own. He’s making fresh, tangy salsas to accompany soft, crumbly housemade longaniza (Mexican-style chorizo), a sweet and spicy al pastor, a peppery carne asada. All of his beautiful meats — he learned the art of butchering from his uncle in Veracruz — are perfectly seared and rest atop specialty tortillas from Newark’s Tortilleria Chinantla. He’s frying those same tortillas into thick, crunchy totopos, simmering consommé for the birria tacos; he’s even making tamales. Come April, he’ll serve horchata and add a paleta stand to the shop, bringing in a pupusa vendor with the goal of uniting more Latin flavors under one roof. Bonus: Plauchu’s two Milas y Planchas trucks will begin service to more central Island locations next month. Tacos run three for $15-17. More info: 516-588-9800;

Pork tacos al pastor at La Pasadita Taquería in Bayville.

Pork tacos al pastor at La Pasadita Taquería in Bayville. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski


Tommy Tacos

821 New York Ave., Huntington Station

“In tacos we trust,” announces a pink neon sign at this thoughtfully designed taqueria complete with murals and a steady rock soundtrack. The chef-driven spot is run by Tom Stein, who started as a dishwasher in his father’s Florida restaurant, rising within NYC’s Tao Group before moving to Long Island. Corn tortillas, sourced from La Milpa de Rosa in Westchester, are paired with fall-apart tender pork carnitas. Vegetarian offerings like the Papa Chulo with potatoes, corn and poblano peppers change monthly, and the shop offers lots of vegan alternatives, like plant-based Soyrizo. Stein makes nearly everything on his menu — which also includes burritos, birria ramen, rice bowls, and churro-covered Oreos — on-site. Starting May 1, he’ll also have frozen margaritas and a full bar. Tacos run from $4.25-$7. More info: 631-982-8022;

A pork carnitas street taco, a shrimp taco on a...

A pork carnitas street taco, a shrimp taco on a flour tortilla, and a spicy pulled chicken street taco at Tommy Tacos in Huntington. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Mi Viejito Pueblito

1687 New York Ave., Huntington Station

Mi Viejito Pueblito and its owners, Eulogio and Emelia Valerio, stand out among the crowded taco environs of Huntington Station with tacos that are three or four supernal bites each. At first glance, they seem ordinary, but once you tuck into the griddled, slightly puffy tortillas filled with crispy, pineapple-topped al pastor, cumin-scented taco arabes, tender lengua and slightly charred shrimp tacos, you’ll reconsider. The 20-seat dining room is spare aside from some framed prints of Mexican colonial scenes, but the habanero salsa will quicken the pulse. More info: 631-470-0396

Tacos al pastor at Mi Viejito Pueblito in Huntington Station.

Tacos al pastor at Mi Viejito Pueblito in Huntington Station. Credit: Linda Rosier

El Paso Taco Grill

787 Conklin St., Farmingdale

Year after year, El Paso draws a bustling, diverse crowd for Central American plates and exalted tacos built upon recipes from the owner’s Guerrero-born mother. Marinated cubes of beef tongue are softened during roasting for tender lengua tacos. Shaved flaps of pork butt are slathered with guajillo chili sauce for singular al pastor tacos. And shrimp tacos light up your palate with a sour tang. Finished with minced onions, cilantro and slivered radishes, a plate of three tacos starts at $7, and it’s wise to order ahead because this place is usually busy. More info: 516-752-1872

Chorizo tacos at El Paso Taco Grill in Farmingdale.

Chorizo tacos at El Paso Taco Grill in Farmingdale. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Hermanas Kitchen & Cocktails

136 S. Wellwood Ave., Lindenhurst

Owned by three women partners, Hermanas is quietly classy, with a marble bar and bleached white-on-white dining room. Chef Edwin Corrado’s tacos exude laser attention to color, texture and composition, and he serves each one flat (even when they are taken to-go) so that their beauty is part of the experience. The lineup of vegetarian and vegan tacos is strong, with baby rainbow carrots roasted to subtle sweetness and racy curtido slaw, Brussels sprouts drizzled with blackberry vinaigrette, or crisp fried-avocado with smoky aioli. Pernil tacos show off how roasted pork can become almost delicate in the right hands. Individual tacos start at $4.50. More info: 631-991-8999,

A roasted rainbow carrot taco with al pastor sauce, curtido...

A roasted rainbow carrot taco with al pastor sauce, curtido and cotija cheese at Hermanas in Lindenhurst. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

NZgrei Taqueria Gil Mexican Food

134 N. Carll Ave., Babylon

There’s quiet star power behind the tacos at this unassuming deli across from the Babylon LIRR Station. It's owned by Oaxaca native Jose Gil, and the kitchen is manned by Santiago Barragan, who got his start at NYC's La Esquina and worked at Tortilleria Nixtamal before decamping to Babylon. Birria tacos showcase precision with a masterful fry technique that cradles the velveteen short ribs spiked by fresh and pickled onions. Ditto with the al pastor, which is expertly prepared on a trompo before it’s shaved off into the juiciest of bulbs, some of the best we’ve found on the Island. Even though the tacos were top-notch, most people seemed to be here for the molcajetes, served in a stone bowl and filled with everything from nopales cactus pads to creamy chipotle shrimp. More info: 631-893-4333,

The birria tacos at NZgrei Taqueria Gil Mexican Food in...

The birria tacos at NZgrei Taqueria Gil Mexican Food in Babylon. Credit: Linda Rosier

Cochinita Porky

1068 Long Island Ave., Deer Park (in Amm Renew Auto Collision lot)

Along the body shops and salvage yards of Long Island Avenue, the air smells of grilled meat. Just past Commack Road, two Pepto Bismol-pink food trucks appear, one with a hood in the shape of a pig’s snout. A two-woman Guatemalan team holds court. Sisters Maidy and Katherine Estrada have been working the trucks for more than seven years, and their tacos are still killer. Toothsome corn tortillas are made fresh daily at the Torti-Cana Tortilleria just down the road. Grab three tacos for $10, as well as enough napkins to clean both your fingers and your car’s dashboard. Whether you choose the sweet, chunky pineapple-heavy al pastor, the juicy chicken, the charred carne asada, or the soupy birria, your lips will glisten with fat and your taste buds will thank you. There are other Latin American offerings, from slick pork ribs and empanadas to arepas, so be sure to bring cash and come hungry. More info: 631-877-2728;

Beef tacos from the Cochinita Porky food truck.

Beef tacos from the Cochinita Porky food truck. Credit: Randee Daddona

Verde Kitchen & Cocktails

70 E. Main St., Bay Shore

Let's face it, you're coming to Verde to drink mezcal negronis in a tropical greenhouse decorated with Mexican cactus plants. But while you're there, why not try some battered fish tacos with grapefruit habanero hot sauce. Every table has one. It's Taco Tuesday after all, and the kitchen is banging out plates of two tacos for 25% off. (They have tacos other days of the week, but Tuesday is prime time.) Better yet, you must order the barbacoa, a hunk of slow-cooked beef braised in lager and sweet Mexican Coke. Vegetarian rajas tacos are spruced with kale and slivered almonds, which mesh together with the creamy poblano peppers. Specials like the pulpo tacos are the most thoughtful of the bunch, served on housemade blue corn tortillas with spunky slices of octopus and buttery avocado. Plates of two tacos start at $9. More info: 631-665-6300,

Barbacoa tacos with slow cooked chili-rubbed brisket at Verde Kitchen &...

Barbacoa tacos with slow cooked chili-rubbed brisket at Verde Kitchen & Cocktails in Bay Shore. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

Garcia's Taco Bar

555 N. Research Place, Central Islip

Around the corner from the Target in Central Islip, there’s a bright red school bus decorated with sexy decals and Guatemalan flags. You’ll probably smell it before you see it, because right next to the bus there’s a line of smokers that fill the neighborhood with savory meat aromas. This is the playground of Roberto Garcia, who showcases his childhood flavors from a Central American “chicken bus” that he named Gisele. Guatemala shares a border and an ancient Mayan cooking tradition with Mexico, so tacos are part of the culture. But Garcia’s gives them a cheffy spin with excellently smoked carne asada and masterful carnitas, full of juice with all kinds of crispy bits. You’ll also want to order some fried pork chicharron, served Cali-style in a long, fatty lobe with lime and guacamole on the side. More info:

Asada tacos from Garcia's Taco Bar in Central Islip.

Asada tacos from Garcia's Taco Bar in Central Islip. Credit: Randee Daddona

Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

30 E. Main St., Patchogue

The road to Oaxaca is bright pink and paved with masa. In a trendy dining room lined with mezcal and bright folk art paintings, pale corn tortillas lay flat on the plate, accentuating their griddle marks. The cheffy tacos require a solid foundation because there’s a lot of interesting stuff on top, and you’ll want to see it all. Crispy strips of fish are streaked with pineapples and a funky red coleslaw. A plump nugget of New York strip steak with grilled Oaxacan cheese gets slapped with a shockingly orange chili de arbol salsa. And the taco to write home about, a snappy cochinita pibil, is slow-braised for hours in citrus and banana leaves. Not actually Oaxacan (but somewhere along the route), this pork dish from the Yucatán Peninsula is often more fanfare than actual flavor. But this version is incredibly dialed in. There’s a lot of depth to that savoriness, and a lot of talent in the kitchen. More info: 929-205-9645,

Three tacos at Ruta Oaxaca in Patchogue: New York strip steak...

Three tacos at Ruta Oaxaca in Patchogue: New York strip steak with queso asado; crispy pescado; and slow braised cochinita pibil. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Taqueria Mexico

709 E. Main St., Riverhead

There are many great taquerias in Riverhead, a city known for its Latino population and robust selection of Guatemalan delis. But Taqueria Mexico is the top destination because it makes standout corn tortillas, richer and chewier than most others. Not to mention the tiny dining room is seriously cute with its forest green walls and Spanish tile. Get the crumbled, feisty longaniza sausage, a brighter shade of red than the more common chorizo. And although it’s not technically a taco, the Central Mexican quesadilla was a similar shape to a fried taco dorado and superb with its stuffing of huitlacoche, a corn fungus that grows into little black bulbs of savory earthiness. More info: 631-208-2902

Tacos al pastor at Taqueria Mexico in Riverhead.

Tacos al pastor at Taqueria Mexico in Riverhead. Credit: Yvonne Albinowski

La Fondita

74 Montauk Hwy., Amagansett

Twenty-two years ago, La Fondita set the bar for tacos on the East End. Suites of flavors — orange, chilis, cumin, herbs — taste effortless but mask years of refinement. Tortillas are made fresh, for fish tacos that feature a hunk of cod sheathed in Negro Modelo beer batter and fried to a shattering crisp. But don’t pass by the carnitas. Each drop of adobo-stained, citrus-tinged fat underneath the taco feels deliberate, not gratuitous, the pork having half-melted during an hours-long braise. There are no seats inside, but a substantial garden with picnic tables can be found around back. Expect waits during the bustle of summer. Tacos are $3.50 each, or five for $14-$15.50. More info: 631-267-8800,

Carnitas tacos at La Fondita in Amagansett.

Carnitas tacos at La Fondita in Amagansett. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Maria's Kitchen

55 N. Ferry Rd., Shelter Island

Hop on that ferry, because after the short voyage across the water you’ll find gorgeous Puebla style tacos. Piled high with glistening chili sauces and a shimmer of chopped tomatoes and onion, the tacos are one of the most beautiful sights on the picturesque hamlet of Shelter Island. They’re found at a juice bar called Maria’s, owned by Maria Serrano Torres, who makes an impressive variety of taco styles including pig’s ear and salt-dried beef cecina, all on housemade corn tortillas. Alambre tacos, a Mexico City street food with Arabic origins, are a wave of sliced beef with chorizo and bell peppers brightened by a scatter of cilantro. The flavors pop so well that you don’t need salsa, but pour some of that verde on anyway for peak freshness and tang. More info: 631-749-5450, 

Tacos Alambres, foreground, and shrimp tacos at Maria's Kitchen in Shelter...

Tacos Alambres, foreground, and shrimp tacos at Maria's Kitchen in Shelter Island arrive on handmade corn tortillas. Newsday / Andi Berlin Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

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