Uptown Taco in Floral Park hadn’t been open two weeks when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo mandated that restaurants operate at half capacity due to coronavirus concerns, and shortly after, suspend dine-in service altogether. Now the taco joint is back up and running.
Bill Barry, who’s put 20-plus years into bartending in his hometown of Floral Park at eateries like Trinity Restaurant and Bar, J Fallon's Tap Room and McCarthy's Bar, and his brother-in-law Lou Ventura, a retired from the NYPD officer, always wanted to open a restaurant.
That's why when friends Gavin and Lindsey Doherty, who owned the Oak House Mexican Kitchen before Uptown replaced it, decided to close their restaurant, the business partners found the opportunity they'd been looking for.
Barry said the partners "loved" having a traditional Mexican restaurant in town, so they put their own twist on the establishment with a renovation that included plenty of reclaimed wood from a 200-year-old barn in Pennsylvania combined with bright décor colors in turquoise, yellows and reds.
“We love this kind of vibe. It reminded us of going back to our 20s and going to Don Juan’s," said Barry, referencing the long-closed Mexican restaurant in Westbury. "It was always a fun time at that kind of place, so we wanted to bring that kind of vibe here — an affordable place where the food is good. A fun vibe where you can bring the family or go with friends for a drink,” Barry said.
At this taco spot in the heart of the village on Tulip Avenue, customers can find appetizers like nachos topped with queso, black beans, corn, pico, jalapeños, guacamole and crema ($13) and giant pretzels ($12), and an assortment of nine tacos ($4-$6.50; one an order) ranging from Korean short rib and barbecue chicken to the Chicharron, which features pork belly, pico de gallo, white onion, cilantro and chile de arbol. Steak, chicken, short rib and vegetable quesadillas ($8-$11), plus burrito bowls (starting at $10) and sides like rice and beans and sweet plantains, $5 each, are here, too.
Many of the items that make up the menu are gluten free. There are also two vegan options: cauliflower tacos (battered Buffalo style with red cabbage and celery) and Brussels sprouts tacos (roasted sprouts with pickled red onion and black bean corn salsa). Both cost $5.
Wash it all down with a variety of cocktails, margaritas, beer or wine, all of which are available to go.
Orders can be placed by calling or visiting the restaurant. And for those visiting, al fresco dining is available at one of five tables set up partially under a tent in the back parking lot. There is no table service at this time.
Uptown Taco is open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. It's at 155 Tulip Ave. in Floral Park. 516-502-1456. uptowntaco.com