Many Long Island taco joints feature al pastor tacos, but few get them right.
The key element is threading layers of heavily spiced pork on a spit, similar to gyros or shawarma, to create what Mexicans call a trompo, a spinnng top of meat that cooks slowly all day and is sliced to order. (Most taco joints just grill pieces of marinated pork.)
At the recently opened Copper and Clay in Long Beach, the second act from the folks behind nearby Wild Feast, the trompo, topped with a customary pineapple, sits in clear view, spinning slowly.
The featured taco (it’s mentioned on the sign) is one of nine on the menu that also includes tacos stuffed with octopus, beef, chicken, fish and shrimp. They arrive in tortillas that are being pressed and griddled throughout the day. Classic tacos cost $4.50 each or 3 for $12. Seafood versions weigh in at $5.50 each or 2 for $10.
There are also hot tamales, tostadas and quesadillas. The al pastor finds its way onto nachos as well, layered with guacamole, pico de gallo, crema and pickled jalapeños ($14.95).
Copper and Clay, which opened two weeks ago in the space that once housed Ay Caramba Express, has been given a complete makeover, featuring an open kitchen where the taco making can be seen in plain view, and an intimate dining room of copper-topped tables including four tall two-tops and a long communal table. It’s cash only, but there is an ATM inside.
Cooper and Clay is located at 6 West Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-992-0628