Clinton Hill Taco-Off

Cochinita's Tacos

Clinton Hill’s still-developing food scene added two trendy taquerias in recent weeks: Cochinita, at 922 Fulton St., and Salva Vida, at 291 Greene Ave. Brendan Spiegel tried out both and evaluated them head-to-head in our first neighborhood food showdown. Here’s how they fared:

Cochinita


Salva Vida


Point

Pedigree

Los Angeleno-turned-Brooklynite Adam Frank offers house-made tortillas and an all gluten-free menu.

The team behind The General Greene expands east with this hole-in-the-wall on the Bed-Stuy border.

Cochinita. When it comes to Mexican, West coast rep
beats small plates from Fort Greene.


Atmosphere

Oddly sleek for this stretch of Fulton, with 12 stylish red chairs at two-top tables, arty wall fixtures, an iPad cash
register and Daft Punk on the sound system.

Just slightly fancier than your typical taqueria, with exposed brick, subway tile, wood floors and eight swivel stools lining the small counter, plus two small benches outside.


Salva Vida. The classic low-key neighborhood taco
shop, reconfigured with a new Brooklyn aesthetic.

Scene

Hipster heavy

Diverse; lots of families

Salva Vida


Best Taco

The namesake cochinita pibil is like a Mexican version of pulled pork:
succulent strands of pig slow-roasted inside a banana leaf with orange and
spices.

Chrorizo con papa—ground spicy sausage mixed with soft slices
of potato and wedged inside two tortillas that are grilled for extra
crispiness.


Cochinata. The fresh tortillas and slow-cooked
meats make all the difference.

Toppings

Choose your own from a checklist of cilantro, lime, radish, queso fresco, pickled onions, red and green salsa.

Unless otherwise requested, every taco comes with cilantro, raw onions, radish, lime, lemon and one of three salsas.


Close, but the pickled onions put Cochinita over
the edge.

Extras

The rice and beans—brown rice cooked with sofrito, and stewed pinto beans—can be served with all of the above toppings ($3). Plus there are cajetas—freshly made goat milk-caramel candies ($1.25)


A fresh corn salad ($5), plus most of the taco options (including chicken, pork, veggie, steak and chorizo) are also available as burritos or quesadillas.

Cochinita. The sweet and gooey cajetas are exactly
how every taco tasting should end.

Mexican Coke?

Yes.

Yes.

Tie.


Free chips and salsa?

No chips?!?

No, but $3 for freshly fried chips and pico de gallo.

Salva Vida. While we strongly reject the trend of
having to pay for chips and salsa, it still beats no chips at all.


Price

Definitely on the higher end of the taco scale. Each small taco is $3.65, meaning a full meal of three tacos plus a side and you’re topping $15.

Surprisingly affordable, the menu of hearty tacos is priced to scale, ranging from $1.50 for a bean-and-cheese taco to $3.50 for steak.

Salva Vida.

Salva Vida, pre-opening. Photo by Linnea Covington via Grub Street

The Verdict: Salva Vida takes an equal number of categories—including atmosphere and price—but taco taste has to be the tiebreaker, making Cochinita the best new addition to the nabe.

2 Comment

  • conchinita is delicious — but you’re right, the price is tough to swallow.  a “budget approach” to eating — restraining yourself to two tacos, say — still puts you over $7.  and a bottle of water is $2.75!

  • I’ve been to Salva Vida and Conchinita each about 3 or 4 times, that being said I would have to make Salva Vida the winner if it were my call. The Chorizo burrito is bomb there. Conchinita has its advantages, the drinks and pork tacos, but I think I’ll be headed to Salva Vida much more often as the tacos are twice the size, cheaper and in some cases better.