Every Tuesday, Bushwick Daily features one of the many beloved taco joints in our area, recounting why we love these places so much.
I spent half my life in Texas, and like many people from that region of the country I arrived to NYC with an aggressively loud opinion about what makes a good taco. I was certainly not going to find one this far north! Luckily, after six years in Bushwick, I long ago rid myself of any misconceptions about the quality of Mexican food here.
I’m consistently impressed by the taquerias in this neighborhood, especially the numerous ones that dot the Myrtle Avenue corridor, where taking a wrong turn can lead you to a new hidden gem. Well, it was one such wrong turn last summer that lead me to my current favorite local taqueria, Taqueria Oaxaqueños.
Oaxaqueños is small to say the least. Larger than a stand, but smaller than a truck, this diminutive taqueria is housed in a simple lean-to on the back corner of one of the Sea Town market buildings and is easy to miss among all the flashier and larger shops and restaurants.
It doesn’t have an address, but you can easily locate it by going to the northwest corner of Irving and Linden Avenues and looking for the colorfully painted menu on the façade. You’ll also see Marie, the owner and one woman show, working hard behind the tiny window.
More often than not, Marie is cooking the house specialty and namesake, tamales oaxaqueños. Originating from the Oaxaca region of Mexico, the oaxaqueño is the much larger banana leaf-clad cousin of the familiar tamale, and Marie’s are truly enormous! She offers three versions: chicken, vegetable, and the real standout, pork. It’s almost triple the size of a regular tamale. These soft and rich corn masa pillows are filled with huge chunks of spicy pork shoulder, and just one is enough for a meal on its own. They’re a total steal for only $2.50 apiece!
The rest of the menu is typical taqueria fare done exceptionally well. Tortas, cemitas, quesadillas, and traditional street tacos, of course. These are all available with the usual filling choices: chorizo, carnitas, chicken, beef, tinga, cecina and vegetables. It’s simply unbelievable what Marie is able to accomplish in a space that’s the size of a tiny apartment kitchen. For me, that’s what makes this place so special and charming, the feeling that you’re getting a home cooked meal in somebody’s personal kitchen.
Honestly, I’m not here to talk about the tacos and tamales. As delicious as all of those are, the superstars of the menu are her breakfast dishes! The dishes are gorgeously plated and Instagram-ready, as though she’s expecting a photo shoot to break out at any moment. Copious amounts of eggs mixed with veggies or chorizo are served with rice, beans, and warm corn tortillas. One dish is easily enough for two people, and at only $6.50, it’s the best breakfast deal in the neighborhood.
Marie works hard and mostly alone, with occasional help from her young daughter and her brother. The taqueria is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Marie is there everyday at 6 a.m. until closing. She says that on average she sells 200 tamales everyday, mostly before 10 a.m.
She moved to America 15 years ago and lived in Bushwick for eight. She’s had this stand for three years. When I asked how she learned to make all this food, she said, “I learned from Mexico.” And when I asked for clarification, she laughed and added, “Oh! My mama. She taught me all of the recipes!”
Seriously, go there tomorrow, this weekend, or whenever you can and get the best secret brunch in Bushwick that you’ve never had!
All images by Alex Stephens for Bushwick Daily.