Tacos are everywhere these days. We can get them from food trucks, fast-casual eateries, and high-end restaurants. But it’s important to know what a “taco” really is. There are a variety of different types of tacos out there, from traditional South Mexican style tacos made with two warm corn tortillas topped with a meaty-filling, to battered fried fish slapped between a hard-shell tortilla topped off with guacamole. Needless to say, there are many kinds of tacos out there. Here’s a quick guide to the most common types of tacos around Hoboken and Jersey City, and where you can find them.
Traditional South Mexican Style Tacos
The oldest and most widely-consumed tacos are made with griddled soft corn tortillas, loaded with meat, which can be either fried, braised, or grilled before they are shredded or cubed. They are then topped with condiments or relishes made from herbs and spices native to Central America. There are countless local varieties in terms of ingredients and cooking methods, but for those who are not sure what to get, carnitas (shredded pork) and carne asada (steak) are usually the fool-proof options. Adventurous eaters can enjoy unique cuts of meat (think tripe, skin, cheeks, etc., which are absolutely delicious and extremely popular in Mexico.
Where to Get Traditional South Mexican Style Tacos
Charritos | 518 Washington Street, Hoboken
Charritos has all of the classic tacos on the menu, including chicken, steak, beef, slow-cooked or grilled pork, and shrimp. This Midtown spot recently added a margarita menu, so you can really make a night of it. The colorful decor will draw you in, but the tasty tacos will keep you coming back.
East LA | 508 Washington Street, Hoboken
East LA has it figured out: unlimited chips and salsa, an incredible variety of margarita flavors, and of course, awesome tacos. This Washington Street spot has been a reliable destination for tasty tacos since 1983. Taco fillings include chicken, beef, shrimp, pork, and veggies, so there’s something for everyone in your group.
La Brujeria | 590 Grand Street, Jersey City
Most late-night spots aren’t known for the quality of the food, but La Brujeria does things differently. This restaurant is open 24/7, so anyone anytime can get their taco fix taken care of, and the beautiful mural on the exterior lets you know you’re in the right spot. La Brujeria has an incredible array of tacos, including birria style and traditional. The fillings include shrimp, three kinds of steak, chicken, beef, and lamb. The vegetarian options are some of the most creative we’ve come across, and include breaded cauliflower, potato and jalapeno, cactus, and grilled mixed vegetables.
Los Tres Chilitos | 465 Central Avenue, Jersey City
This family-run restaurant will make you feel right at home. The name, which means ‘Three Little Peppers’, is an homage to the owners’ three sons. Since 2013, Los Tres Chilitos has been serving up Mexican classics in The Heights. Taco fillings include carne asada, pollo asado, chorizo, carne enchilada, and carnitas. There are daily specials, so there’s always something new to try, in addition to your old favorites.
Mi Mariachi | 213 Sip Avenue, Jersey City
We debated including this one since we think it’s one of Jersey City’s best-kept secrets. But secrets are no fun, and besides, what’s better than sharing tacos with friends? Mi Mariachi is a cash-only spot in Journal Square, just a few steps from the PATH station. The restaurant has been open since 1998 and recently expanded its seating, so you can enjoy the colorful setting while you savor the tasty tacos. The tacos here are available both traditionally prepared, and fried. The meat fillings include such classics as pork, grilled chicken, and Mexican sausage. There are also vegetarian options. Mi Mariachi is a BYO, so you can pick your favorite cerveza to go along with your meal.
Molcajetes Jersey City | 520 West Side Avenue, Jersey City
Since 2018, the team behind Molcajetes has been churning out authentic Mexican food to its dedicated customer base. The simple, traditional food is what keeps people coming back, and the tacos are no exception. The tacos are freshly prepared, even down to the homemade tortillas. Fillings include spicy pork, grilled chicken, salted beef, and shrimp, to name a few.
Mezcal Kitchen JC | 665 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
The only thing better than tacos is more tacos. Mezcal Kitchen JC has you covered, with its enormous menu and taco platters available for takeout. There are three kinds of tacos on the menu: soft, crunchy, and L.A. style, which is a cheese-crusted tortilla. In addition to the traditional meat-based fillings like chicken, steak, pork, and lamb, there are a ton of vegetarian offerings here. Vegetarian choices include mushroom, zucchini, guacamole, and cauliflower. More adventurous eaters can try the various offerings of more unusual cuts of meat, including beef cheek and pork ear.
Orale Mexican Kitchen | 1426 Willow Avenue, Hoboken + 341 Grove Street, Jersey City
Orale Mexican Kitchen prides itself on fresh, high-quality ingredients like organic meats and vegetables. The end result is a variety of tacos with creative flavors that aren’t your average Taco Tuesday lineup. Speaking of which, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday with certain tacos available for 50% off. All of the typical meats are included in the menu, such as chicken, beef, and pork, and for the vegetarians, there’s even a seitan taco.
Pico Taco | 70 Hudson Street, Hoboken
(Photo credit: @eatpico)
With its light-filled space and wooden countertops, this small restaurant looks like a third-wave coffee shop, but the simple taco menu features a list of Mexican classics. Get the al pastor, a beloved Mexican street taco originally from Puebla. The cooking is similar to Greek gyros — slices of marinated meats are stacked tightly on a long skewer and cooked under a broiler. When someone places an order, shreds of meat are shaved off from the fat pile. At Pico Taco, the al pastor taco is topped with small pieces of pineapple, just how the dish is served at a corner shop in Mexico City.
Sol Azteca | 328 Montgomery Street, Jersey City
This downtown spot is also a BYO, so you know you’re in for a good time. The food is authentically prepared Mexican classics, and the tacos include grilled chicken, shrimp, pork al pastor, steak, to name a few. Vegetarian options include grilled cactus and grilled vegetables. All tacos are served on corn tortillas and come with vegetable garnish including onions, radishes, cilantro, and lime. The tacos are perfectly priced to try a variety, at under $4 per taco.
Tacos Victoria | 324 1/2 7th Street, Jersey City
The restaurant features a full Mexican menu and the taco selection includes some classic options, such as carnitas (shredded pork), asada (steak), and cactus. The tacos are minimally sprinkled with onion and cilantro, but this is not a problem at all since the meat itself is extremely tasty. And make sure to get the carnitas, with their slightly caramelized flavor, nicely browned edges and grits, and a melt-in-your-mouth creamy texture of a French confit.
Taqueria Downtown Catering Co | 354 Grove Street, Jersey City
The taco meat selection here is similar to Taco Victoria’s, but the use of condiments and seasonings is bolder and more versatile. For example, the lamb taco balances the rich and gamey flavor of braised lamb with a piquant spicy sauce. And the beef flank taco, the meat in which is surprisingly tender and juicy for such a tough cut of beef, is dabbed with a blob of mildly smoky salsa. Also, don’t forget to get their nicely chunky and extremely fresh guacamole.
Taqueria Sabor Mixteca | 496 Communipaw Avenue, Jersey City
Simple, authentic, delicious. Taqueria Sabor Mixteca offers both traditional and birria style tacos. Fillings include shrimp, tilapia, chicken, steak, and chorizo. Vegetarian options include cactus and grilled vegetables. At under $4 per taco, you can mix and match to try as many as you want!
Taqueria Viva Mexican Kitchen Cafe | 133 Morris Street, Jersey City
Come for the tasty Mexican food, stay for the cozy and welcoming ambiance. This Paulus Hook spot has tacos for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. The meat options include beef, pork, steak, and chicken, while the vegetarian options include grilled cactus and mixed grilled vegetables. The tacos are served on soft tortillas and are affordable, at under $4 per taco.
Fusion Style Tacos
For those who love the versatility of tacos and do not mind playing around with the traditional recipes, there is no lack of quick-service eateries in our area where you can experiment with the taste. In these places, you choose your own proteins, add ons, and condiments. And the recipes often fuse traditional Central American ingredients with the latest food trends – think fried avocado tacos and more.
Where to Get Fusion Style Tacos
Gringo’s Tacos | 12 Coles Street, Jersey City
This colorful spot has an incredible menu to match its upbeat vibe. The menu has both traditional and fusion-style tacos. Some of the more creative combos are the Tuna Tar-Taco, which has ahi tuna, guacamole, pineapple pico served on a wonton shell, and the Chicken’N’Waffle, which has is a house-made, battered and fried chicken tender served with butter and syrup in a waffle tortilla. There are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options throughout the menu, and selected tacos are available for Taco Tuesdays, which is $20 per person. for endless tacos.
Fat Taco | 32 Newark Street, Hoboken
Fat Taco is a Hoboken newcomer, but the team behind it is not. The Hoboken Hospitality Group has been operating some of Hoboken’s favorite bars and restaurants for several years, and Fat Taco’s chef has been with the company for over seven years. Chef Jason Herrera has previously been with Coco Loco/Coco Havana, which are sister restaurants within the business. The focus of the menu at Fat Taco are birria offerings, which are slow-cooked meats.
“Birria is made with lamb or goat in Mexico. It changed up when it was brought to the United States,” Chef Jason said. “Here, we use a special blend of brisket and short rib. We cook it for seven hours… after the seven hours is over, the meat falls off the bone.”
Additionally, there are specialty tacos such as crispy rolled chicken tacos, chorizo tacos, jackfruit tinga tacos, and pollo asado.
Los Cuernos | 499 Washington Boulevard, Jersey City
Los Cuernos is a sister restaurant to Taqueria. In addition to the menu, which features steak, pork, and fish tacos, there are also lamb barbacoa, cactus, and chorizo tacos. The restaurant has a huge, shaded patio and is across the street from the Newporth PATH station, making it a great meetup spot for a group.
Loquito | 217 Washington Street, Hoboken
(Photo credit: @eatloquito)
This is a Lebanese-inspired taco spot in downtown Hoboken. The chef, who also co-owns the Hoboken restaurant O’Bagel, adds a middle eastern twist to the Mexican classic. The restaurant features tacos with shawarma or falafel fillings served in a bread similar to pita (pan árabe). But what’s interesting is the use of Middle Eastern-style sauce and condiments. The carnitas are infused with the tangy-nutty note of za’atar, a spice mixture made of thyme, sesame, and sumac. Or you can choose to drizzle your tacos with the perfectly nutty and smoky tahini mole.
Rosita’s Yah | 203 Academy Street, Jersey City
We can’t leave our vegan friends behind with all of the taco fun. Rosita’s Yah specializes in vegan food with Latin flavors, which of course, includes tacos. There are vegan breakfast tacos on the menu, as well as regular tacos. The fillings include soy chicken, soy chorizo, guacamole, and Blackbird seitan. With a variety of vegetable toppings, it is a customizable experience.
Tacoria | 24-26 Erie Street, Jersey City
Strictly speaking, the food here is Tex-Mex style, which is delicious and satisfying in itself but might be a flaw for die-hard Mexican food traditionalists, but people around the neighborhood love it for the creative concept and quick service. The meat is well-seasoned and flavorful, but what’s more interesting is the vegetarian selection. Get the rajas, made from sweet roasted corn and a malty, smoky roja sauce. Or the nicely charred brussels sprouts with a lemony but creamy aioli.
Yes, dessert tacos have always been a thing, even before ChocoTaco was made an American classic by multinationals. It started in the ‘80s when a Good Humor ice cream truck manager tried to come up with a unique product line during the sales low season, and since Mexican food was then the fastest-growing segment in America, it struck him that it would make a whole different ice cream experience by filling a taco shell with ice cream and smeared the top with chocolate and more. It immediately became a hit and taco dessert took off from there.