Nearly every Tuesday, Bushwick Daily features one of the many beloved taco joints in our area, recounting why we love these places so much.
I grew up in New Orleans, a Tex Mex haven, where every joint serves queso blanco and refried beans. In the six years I’ve been in Brooklyn, I’ve fallen in love with Mexican food up here as well. Funny how every region has its own spin on tacos, which are a comfort no matter where I am.
The best taco is one made in a loving kitchen. That’s one reason I’ll never be disappointed at Santa Ana Deli and Grocery on Irving Avenue near Maria Hernandez Park. The owner, Polo Teco, along with his family, welcomes me. His daughter, Blanca, takes my order at the counter.
Teco opened the restaurant when he moved to Bushwick in 1986. He grew up in Puebla, Mexico, and learned to cook from his brother, who prepared almost everything growing up. The staff are all members of his family.
Today he works with his wife Benita, daughter Blanca, and cousin Santiago. The store feels timeless, probably how it looked in 1986, with the menu painted on the walls. Along with tacos, the restaurant also serves quesadillas, burritos and tostadas.
Almost everything is six dollars or less. It’s small, and all of the tables are occupied during lunch hours. It’s also a deli, so there’s a refrigerator with soft drinks, beers, and a shelf of snacks.
Tacos are two for $5. My go-to is the vegetariano. Each has two tortillas generously filled with sautéed vegetables: green and red bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions, all sliced up. The proportions are even, perfectly spread out. There’s enough food to leave me renewed and refreshed. The savory peppers are balanced by tender mushrooms, and the red sauce is fiery hot, the way I like it.
To recover from the burning sensation, I suck on a lime, and sip my giant hibisco (hibiscus) agua fresca, which I pay $4 for. It’s sweet and fresh, perfect for the 75-degree Brooklyn sun. The drink is so refreshing; there’s nothing this pure in any supermarket. I don’t regret the $9 I spent (not including tip). Come by for a taco, and stay because you’re part of the family.
Santa Ana Deli and Grocery
Cozy corner taqueria and grocery with a dedicated following.
171 Irving Ave. [Dekalb L]
Mon-Fri: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 9:30 am – 10:00 pm
All photos by Edward Denegre for Bushwick Daily.