I have walked along West 4th Street a countless amount of times over the many years I've lived in NYC. There's a particular stretch that has a lot of restaurants, but for some reason, I've never felt compelled to go to any of them. It all changed yesterday when I was on my way to get a haircut and needed a nosh before I did so.
I think one of the things that has kept me from going to these restaurants is they all seem to be more of a sit down, spend $30 kind of places and I never am looking for that when I find myself in the neighborhood. Then, a small sidewalk sign caught my eye and proclaimed $3 tacos. I was sold. I made my way down the little set of stairs into a basement restaurant called The Taco Shop.
After my dinner, I did a little research into the place and found out it is owned by Pepe's Restaurant Group, which owns a few Mexican restaurants in the city, most of which were right there on West 4th Street. In fact, The Taco Shop is kind of a limited menu to-go outreach of Burrito Loco which is located in the same building on street level. They even share a kitchen and restrooms. While Burrito Loco is more of the more expensive sit down place that litters that area, The Taco Shop is more of a quick service restaurant with a limited menu. I liked that everything was a la carte and you could build your own dinner. I gave a quick look at the menu and the waiter took my order.
I don't know why, but I'm a sucker for fish tacos, so I decided to get two of them. The journalist in me should have known better and tried 3 different varieties so I can bring you the best info...oh well. The portions of fish were a very nice size for a $3 taco. They had a light and crispy breading, but it didn't overwhelm the fish. Overall, the tacos lacked a lot of interesting flavor, so I put a little hot sauce on them, and enjoyed. The beef barbacoa taco was fantastic. There was a nice portion of beef in the taco and it was seasoned and roasted to perfection. Juicy, a little fatty and a little spicy...everything you're looking for.
I give my gold star of this meal to the grilled corn. I actually didn't order it at first and after the waiter left to put my order in, I realized I was in the mood for it. I am so glad I did, because this side was the highlight of the meal. To start with, it's a great value at $2.50 for a whole ear of corn and they don't skimp at all. It's prepared pretty traditionally if you've gotten Mexican grilled corn before. It was charred just a little on the grill (I could have gone for more charring, but it's a minor complaint) and covered in seasoned mayo dressing and then rolled generously in spiced cotija cheese. They didn't skimp on the cheese and it was creamy and decadent.
The place wasn't terribly busy, but I was there on a Thursday at 3pm, so that's not shocking. The decor was delightfully colorful and just a little campy without being tacky. Service was quick and my food came out almost instantly. Everything was very fresh tasting and my order of 3 tacos and a side seems like just the right amount of food. I walked out satisfied but not feeling like I ate too much. I will be back again to try some more of this menu very soon.
Sum it up
What I got: 2 fish tacos, 1 beef barbecue taco, 1 grilled corn, 1 fruit punch Jarritos soda
What I paid: $15.62 + tip
What I thought: Fast and yummy Mexican food that won't break the bank