Nearly every Tuesday, Bushwick Daily features one of the many beloved taco joints in our area, recounting why we love these places so much.
If this reads like a love letter to Amaranto, you shouldn’t be surprised. For me, Amaranto is so much more than a place to imbibe in the perfect mezcal cocktail—and when I say perfect, I mean truly perfect—or to delight over their delicate moles; it’s the first restaurant in Bushwick that I think of as one of my restaurants, a place I return to over and over again.
It was over a shared plate of short ribs with mole verde that I solidified one of my first friendships in the neighborhood and made a food compatriot for life. It was then that I knew in my very full gut that I had a community in this little corner of this big borough.
My friend, who I only semi-joking dubbed my food guru, had initially written Amaranto down on a list of his top three Mexican spots—Taqueria Cocoyoc for home-style dishes such as pozole, Taqueria Izucar, for tacos and specifically the Suedera, to which I have already written an ode, and finally, Amaranto for exquisite moles and delicate Mexican fare.
At first I only ordered the bigger items like the delightfully funky Huitllachoche Tamal with scallops or the Chicken Enchiladas with Mole Poblano. I started going obsessively, taking myself out to solo brunches before work.
It is a family run business—Fermin Teco’s son, Fermin Jr. created the menu and runs the kitchen, while Fermin and his wife Paulina run the front of house. Fermin talks about his son with a palpable pride, always saying that his food speaks for itself.
Fermin senior began working in Italian restaurants in the ’80s, working his way up from prep to pasta. He began designing specials and incorporating ingredients from his native Mexico. He moved back to Mexico for much of the ’90s but returned to New York when his son was coming of age.
Fermin Jr. began working in Italian restaurants like his father, but quickly developed an interest in the flavors and cuisine of his youth. He began reading cookbooks and his father noticed him following various Mexican chefs online. While his interest in Mexican spices and styles was blossoming at home, he was learning varied techniques at the Italian, French and Latin restaurants where he worked.
When the family realized their dream and opened Amaranto, Fermin and Paulina gave their son the reins in terms of designing and executing the menu, although a few select sauces are family recipes made by Paulina.
Even though I thoroughly enjoy sitting at the bar, sun streaming in through the large windows, trying decadent dishes and chatting with Fermin, the tabs I was racking up were thoroughly unsustainable, so I decided to try a new approach— ordering tacos and an Elote cocktail, a mezcal drink made with corn, sage, pineapple and lime and garnished with a wheel of lightly charred cob, for the perfect mid day nosh.
While I eat tacos on the regular, these are no ordinary tacos: the ingredients are simple, but their treatment is unrivaled. My usual order is a pork and fish taco. The pork is slow cooked and pulled with the perfect level of fruity acidity from the pineapple. The tender meat is offset by the crunch of the pickled onion and the smoky salsa cascabel. The fish taco is a sight to behold—battered and fried, the fish looks as light as a cotton candy puff. The light crunch is complimented by florets of lightly roasted cauliflower and a serano mayo.
The menu has four tacos listed—steak, chicken, pork ,and fish coming in at $3.50 each. The elder Fermin told me you could request vegetarian, shrimp or various off-menu options. While, I freely consume tacos from most corners of the neighborhood, Amaranto will always be a beloved stand by, a place that makes me feel at home.