New York City Gets More Bad 'Tex-Mex'

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There are 7 stages of grief over bad Mexican food in New York City. They start at Goat Town
"Puffy tacos" at Goat Town in New York CIty.
Arthur Bovino

"Puffy tacos" at Goat Town in New York CIty.

I swore about a year ago never to return to Goat Town. The hype wasn't the issue. Neither were the uncomfortable seats. Somewhere in between the blasé burger and the embarrassment of taking friends to a new place with bad food made it one of those checks you pay and say, "Never again." But the chef changed, and then there was a Grub Street post about their new puffy tacos:

"Chef Julie Farias may have done time at Café Boulud and Le Bernardin, but she hasn’t forsaken her Texas roots. To prove it, she’s just launched a sensational Mondays-only Tex-Mex menu, a tribute in part to her family’s San Antonio meat-market-cum-tortilleria.... 'I’ll be here every Monday!' crowed an ecstatic San Antonio expat on a puffy-taco high the other night."

Puffy tacos! In New York Sitt-ee? No way! It's a compulsion in Gotham, this constant hope of finding good Mexican food, one complicated by New York pride and the fact that this great city is constantly denigrated as not having anything worth seeking out. But at this point, after years of seeking it out, and trying to defend the city's scene, it's hard to fight the tide. From a culinary standpoint, finding good Mexican food in this town is the culinary equivalent to going through the seven stages of grief.

Shock and Denial: You're from New York City, or have taken on New Yorker pride. Someone from Texas or California (or worse, both in one conversation) says to you, "There's no good Mexican food in New York City." You don't believe it. You can't believe it. "Yes there is," you say. "There's Tehuitzingo. There's Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, there's Zaragoza, there's... wait, you're not right! No, it can't be! There has to be good Mexican food in New York. It's the greatest city in the world, right?" Warning, this stage may last a very long time. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it, or try to escape from it with tequila, mezcal, or by smoking Mexican oregano.

Pain and Guilt: As the shock wears off, you begin to feel unbelievable pain and jealousy. "New York does not have awesome Mexican food [sniff]. In fact, it's true, the Mexican food here sucks. Where is my good Mexican food? I cannot carry this Taco Bell burden any longer. These white people with beards making bad hipster Mexican food are killing a culinary heritage. I must stop visiting Chipotle."

Anger and Bargaining: Frustration about New York City's bad Mexican food gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for bad tacos on someone else. "Screw those smug San Francisco taco lovers and San Antonio Tex-Mex snobs. There are a lot of Mexicans here. Sure, they all work in the Italian restaurants, but they're here! And they know how to make Mexican food. Don't they? This isn't a city full of Mexi-Can'ts! What does anyone in Lubbock know anyway? Let's toilet paper Rosa Mexicano!"