May 12, 2010

2 Taquerias in the East Village: La Lucha vs Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery

taco platters
The weekend before Cinco de Mayo, we decided to go on a taco run in the East Village.  We were far from our favorite taqueria in the city (Tehuitzingo in Hell's Kitchen) and interested in seeing what the other side of town would offer.

We ended up trying two spots along Ave A that were less than five streets apart:  La Lucha and Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery.  Between the two of us, we spent about $20 at each place.   La Lucha's small tacos seemed pricey at $4.50 each while Zaragoza's $2.50 tacos provided the best overall value, but was found in a hole in the wall place.

Hibiscus water
La Lucha is a kitschy small, narrow space that was influenced by Mexico City street foods.  The decor is devoted to Mexican-style professional wrestling (lucha libre).  Videos of the sport is playing on the wall and wrestling masks/other paraphernalia adorn the bright fuchsia interior.  Even the tacos are named after wrestlers.

We both started off with glasses of Hibiscus water ($2.75):  We've only had hibiscus teas before, so we weren't really sure what to expect from the hibiscus water.  It was much sweeter than we expected (tasted like concentrated fruit punch to us).
pulled pork taco
Super Porky (Carnitas/Mexican Pulled Pork taco) ($4.50)Between the two tacos we got, we preferred this one as it was more tender, juicy, and flavorful.  It also had a nice amount of cilantro and red onions on top.    
Pork taco
Brazo de Ore (Spicy Pork/Puerco Enchilado) ($4.50)This taco wasn't that spicy to us so we added some sauce on top.  Overall we thought that both tacos seemed small and had little filling given the $5/each price.
Final bill:  2 tacos + 2 hibiscus waters = $15.79 (before tip)
beef taco
Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery reminded us more of Tehuitzingo (though Tehuitzingo is still our favorite overall).  It's a small bodega, with a small seating area, and no visible menu.  We were told that the four meats available that day were steak, goat, chicken, and chorizo.  We were shocked that neither carnitas (or any pork product) nor offal (like beef tongue) were available.

We ordered one of each taco starting with the Steak and peppers ($2.50) taco above:  The beef and peppers were tender and well marinated. 
The Chorizo ($2.50) taco wasn't that memorable...
taco 2
Nor was the Chicken ($2.50) taco...
But the Goat ($2.50) taco was our favorite as the meat was juicy, though perhaps slightly greasy.

Final bill:  4 tacos + 1 Bohemia beer ($3.50) + 1 sparkling water ($2) = $15.50 (before tip)

Overall, if we were in the area and needed a cheap greasy spoon or taco snack, we would get take-out from Zaragoza.  But if we had our pick of the city, we would return back to Tehuitzingo in Hell's Kitchen.

La Lucha is located at 147 Ave A (btwn 9th and 10th Sts) in NYC.
Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery is located at 215 Ave A (betwn 13th and 14th Sts) in NYC.

La Lucha Tacos & Boutique on Urbanspoon Zaragoza Grocery on Urbanspoon


  1. OH, my! You ae so fortunate to have such fresh and flavourful Mexican food places. We have Taco Bell. I really enjoyed all of the Taqueria's that I ate at when in the San Fran area last summer. Just incredible. Thanks for the post!

  2. I had one taco at Zaragoza last year and didn't love it but it's so cheap so I need to give Zaragoza another chance. I love the tacos at Mercadito Cantina but $9.50 for two tiny tacos is just hard to swallow!

  3. @Helen - I totally agree that $10 for 2 tacos is a bit much...and I still love Tehuitzingo better than Zaragoza. From the 4 tacos we had at Zaragoza, we liked 50% of them (the other 2 we were indifferent), so I can see how the place is hit or miss.

  4. I *think* we might just have found our Monday lunch in NYC!!!!!


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