The Harlem taco guide

Updated: Aug 9


The fresh tacos at Osos
A variety of tacos at Oso.

If your idea of celebrating Cinco de Mayo involves a plate of soft, tasty tacos and a margarita or two to wash them down, you're in luck: Harlem's taco game is strong.

Not sure where to start? Here are seven sure-to-please destinations, listed from south to north:


Ollin

East Harlem 339 E 108th St between First and Second Aves

This colorful mom-and-pop—the owners came from Puebla some 30 years ago—makes its birria with goat (a.k.a. the original way). Try the tasty stew wrapped in tacos, in a torta, or even over fries. Margaritas are $5 today.


[ICYMI: Where to find delicious birria tacos—plus burritos, ramen, you name it—in Harlem]


Taco Mix

East Harlem 234 E 116th St between Second and Third Aves

The rotisserie in front beckons to passers-by with its endless layers of chile-marinated pork and roasted pineapple crown—both are used in Taco Mix's famous al pastor taco. There's a sidewalk cabana, but no alcohol, so plan accordingly.


The al pastor tacos at Taco Mix
The al pastor tacos at Taco Mix.

La Chula

East Harlem 137 E 116th St at Lexington Ave

You won't find any fresher tortillas uptown—they're prepared from scratch right behind the counter and are the perfect base for the super flavorful, Mexico City-style tacos (Chef Julian Medina was raised there). The Tajin-rimmed margaritas are a perfect match.


La Diagonal

Central Harlem 185 St. Nicholas Ave and 119th St

Nab a table in the partitioned cabanas at this stylish Mexican, then order the carnitas (roasted pork) and any of the handcrafted cocktails—La Diagonal specializes in agave spirits, including tequila, mezcal and more.


The walls at La Chula.

Cantina

Central Harlem 1838 Seventh Ave at 111th St

Central Harlem 329 Lenox Ave at 126th St

Come for the wide choice of specials and the endless varieties of tequila and mezcal. The beef brisket taco is a definite winner—enjoy it on the Lenox location's sidewalk cabana.


Oso

Hamilton Heights 1616 Amsterdam Ave between 139th and 140th Sts

Don't miss the fish tacos—pan-fried porgy with pickled red cabbage, crispy onions and chipotle aioli—at this hip spot serving elevated Mexican street food. Then make sure to pair it with one of uptown's best margaritas.


Frijolito's

Hamilton Heights 3446 Broadway between W 140th and W 141st Sts

This casual mom-and-pop on Broadway features a wide variety of taco fillings, including sautéed tilapia, roasted chicken, braised pork, fried steak, and lately even birria. If you like it spicy, ask for the morita sauce. Note: There's no alcohol here.


[ICYMI: 7 uptown mom-and-pop alternatives to that big Tex-Mex chain]


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