The best thing to happen to New York Mexican lately has been Tortilleria Nixtamal, a Corona, Queens, microfactory (and great taquería in its own right), whose tender, fresh tortillas, made from lime-treated corn ground into masa, have been proliferating on menus around town. The second best? Cascabel’s chorizo taco, a smoky, crumbly, boldly seasoned gem ($8.50 for two; 1542 Second Ave., nr. 80th St.; 212-717-7800).
But back to those tortillas: Look for them to appear soon at both Tacombi, the vintage VW bus parked in a Nolita garage where chef-partner Aarón Sanchez is spending the summer catering special events and feeding Facebook fans, and Casa Mezcal, the Lower East Side mezcalería whose kitchen is still in Con Ed limbo. Until then, get your fix at Dos Toros (137 Fourth Ave., nr. 13th St.; 212-677-7300), a counter-service joint with Bay Area aspirations, lively homemade salsas, and flavorful flap-steak carne asada tacos ($3.67). You’ll also find Nixtamal’s tortillas at the Loading Dock in downtown Brooklyn (170 Tillary St., nr. Gold St.; 646-355-7518), a raw, rustic space where one Choncho (a.k.a. Forrest Cole) has made a name for himself with the deep-fried, deftly garnished fish tacos he also sells at Brooklyn Flea ($5). In the East Village, Nixtamal also distributes to La Lucha (147 Ave. A, nr. 9th St.; 212-260-0235), the Mexican-wrestling-themed taquería modeled after its ilk in Mexico City, where everyone apparently goes to feed before the big bouts.
Somehow, even without the benefit of Corona-crafted tortillas, several other worthy Mexican menus have made their debuts. Hecho en Dumbo, for one, abandoned its Brooklyn birthplace for a new home in Noho (354 Bowery, nr. Great Jones St.; 212-937-4245), where the tortillas, incidentally, are made in-house from dried-corn masa (the next best thing), and where the cosmopolitan Mexico City–style cuisine shines in dishes like chile-dusted jícama-and-pineapple salad with watercress dressing ($6). Sue Torres, the new consulting chef at the Rusty Knot (425 West St., at 11th St.; 212-645-5668), makes her own masa for snacks like chalupas topped with chicken or vegetables ($5). They’re great bar food, and so is the happy-hour special at Fonda (434 Seventh Ave., nr. 15th St., Park Slope; 718-369-3144), the cozy new venture of Roberto Santibañez, former Rosa Mexicano bigwig. From 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, an order of Rosa Mex–worthy guacamole for two—fastidiously prepared to order in a molcajete and served with warm tortillas, chips, and salsa—will run you five bucks, with $3 beer and wine. The neighborhood has clearly discovered it, as empty bar stools vanish fast. And in Williamsburg, locals have warmly embraced the crew at Cariño (82 S. 4th St., nr. Berry St.; 718-384-8282), reunited after their last place of employ, Bonita, closed down last summer. The liquor license is still pending, but in the meantime, it’s a fine place for a mellow brunch of chilaquiles topped with two eggs, any style, slathered with salsa verde ($12).