Newyorktitlan vs. Taqueria al Pastor: the Search for Bushwick’s Best Tortas

Rob Martinez

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Stepping in front of the camera is new for me, but telling stories isn’t. Now that I’ve started getting out in front of my own camera, I can say what I really want to say to everyone on the internet. And what I have chosen to say is this: I love Mexican food.

Whenever I return to my home in Ridgewood, from whatever far-flung locales I have schemed my way into producing a show in, I take a stroll beneath the Myrtle Wyckoff M train line and pop a left onto Gates Avenue  for some Newyorktitlan. You know how Eric Ripert eats a piece of gruyere before every shift to acclimate his palate at Le Bernardin? (No? Just me then.) That’s how I am with Mexican food and Bushwick. I take that first bite and I am ready to face this city once again.

It’s a credit to the creative mind behind Newyorktitlan that the menu brings such a fresh approach to Mexican food, while still familiar enough to quell my nostalgic heart. Take their tortillas: they are the best in the game; it doesn’t matter if they have cod roe and eggs on them or lox and crema, it’s always a banger at ‘Titlan. Producing a video there was something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and kismet reared its fat head when I stumbled upon Taqueria al Pastor’s breakfast torta and had noticed that Newyorktitlan had recently-unveiled its own chilaquiles torta.

Taqueria al Pastor has become the best place to get tacos in New York (photo by Erik Kantar)

Taqueria al Pastor is another place in the neighborhood that does Mexican food a bit differently: pressing all their tortillas by hand, to order, and preparing an enormous, beautiful trompo every day to carve tacos from. These are the best tacos in New York. But even more unique is their breakfast torta, a decadent and delicious sandwich stuffed with a choice of either steak, egg and potatoes or chicken milanesa, bacon, egg and potatoes.

I have never seen anything like it, and having now eaten one of each variety, I can assure you: a breakfast torta is a misnomer. This thing can keep you going for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In the episode below, I trace the line between these two establishments. One is Chilango (Mexico City-born), the other is Poblano (hailing from Puebla). One serves chilaquiles on a kaiser roll, while the other serves a heaping breakfast on a traditional bolillo torta. One’s off Myrtle and one’s on Wyckoff. But what they share in common is that they’re both Mexican-owned restaurants that are pushing their cuisine forward using traditional ingredients and new ideas. 

What an awesome time it is for Mexican food in Bushwick.

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