This time of year, it’s just too hot to consume anything but tacos and beer. We’ll take fish tacos and Tecate, or hand-pressed tortillas filled with carnitas and a Folksbier Berliner-Weisse, or crumbled chorizo and an Other Half IPA any night of the week at one of our favorite taco hang-outs. Whether you’re looking for greasy drunkard grub or discerning tortillas made with heirloom corn, we’ve found a Brooklyn taco bar for you.
El Diablo at Union Pool
Real talk: Williamsburg’s El Diablo specializes in providing cheap and drippy tacos for very drunk people. They cost $3 a piece and they go down easy with a $5 can of Tecate, served with a twist of lime. Stationed in Union Pool’s leafy backyard, which has a bunch of umbrella tables, a colorful mural, and a large covered patio lit up with bright paper lanterns, this taco truck offers a straight-ahead, no-frills meaty taco selection (chicken, beef, pork, and al pastor). We usually opt for a spicy-smoky chorizo taco, a veggie taco, made with deeply caramelized onions and peppers, and a fish taco (pictured above), which costs an extra 2 bucks and is doused with a creamy chipotle sauce and topped with crunchy red cabbage and flecks of diced mango.
TACO TIP: Bring some dollar bills, y’all, because El Diablo is cash only.
Antojitos El Atoradero at Parklife
Parklife’s big draw is its 4,000-square-foot outdoor space, filled with picnic tables big enough to seat you and your 7 best friends. This Gowanus spot also has a curling rink (sure, why not?) and small indoor counter counter run by Antojitos El Atoradero, a family business from the South Bronx that takes their tacos seriously. With blue corn tortillas and artfully arranged toppings that vary for each of their 10+ taco options, this Gowanus spot pays a lot of attention to detail. They serve crowd-pleasing light and flaky fish tacos and tasty, chipotle-sauced chicken tinga, as well as lengua (veal tongue) for the real taco heads. Choose your pleasure and pair with a hazy, hoppy Sloop Juice Bomb or a big, boozy frozen margarita garnished with a charred lime.
TACO TIP: Happy hour runs until 7pm Monday through Friday, promising $2 off draft beers and ciders, wine by the glass, and menu cocktails. On Tuesdays, the special runs until 9pm.
At this Bed-Stuy bar, equipped with a backyard taco truck and a handful of umbrella-topped picnic tables, the taco meat is piled too high to easily fold it into a tortilla. Bring a big appetite because they’re too messy and tasty to share. Our favorites were the carnitas, made with juicy, just-fatty-enough, caramelized pork, the huitlacoche, a mild and rich mushroom taco with a generous dose of creamy, stringy, white cheese, and the fish taco, a freshly batter-fried fish stick topped with shredded cabbages, diced tomatoes, sprightly cilantro, and a drizzle of crema, all wrapped in a double flour tortilla. Pair with a hoppy Bell’s Oberon ale, a dry Bad Seed cider, or a frozen margarita, painkiller, or peach Arnold Palmer.
TACO TIP: Make the most of Chilo’s well-stocked fixin’ bar. And while you’re sprinkling pickled onions and drizzling avocado sauce atop your already high-piled tacos, be sure to also grab a fork.
Chilo’s is located at 323 Franklin Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant.
San Pedro Inn
Nothing says “date night” like a dirty taco at San Pedro Inn. Their dirty taco is made with whatever’s left in the pan between servings of their more traditional taco fillings, which include rich roasted mushrooms, smoky chorizo, and crispy-juicy carnitas. In theory, this is going to taste differently every time, but the meaty-beany-salty-saucy-caramelized version of the dirty taco that we were served was the most delicious taco we encountered in all of our research. This Red Hook tavern doesn’t have outdoor seating, but it has retained the low-lit, lived-in feel of its former inhabitant, the beloved bar Bait & Tackle. The beer list is pretty straightforward with locals (like Other Half’s Forever Ever IPA) meeting dive bar stand-bys (hello, Miller High Life), and the house margaritas are among the best in town.
TACO TIP: Unlike the rest of the spots on our list, San Pedro is open every day for lunch.
San Pedro Inn is located at 320 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook.
Comadre Cocina at Folksbier
How about some traditional Oaxacan fare paired with an old-world German lager? This airy indoor tasting room, tucked deep into the side streets of Carroll Gardens, should be on the must-visit list for every food nerd and beer nerd in Brooklyn. Chef Zack Wangeman of Comadre Cocina sources heirloom corn from Mexico and uses the ancient technique of niximilization to make his delicious hand-pressed tortillas. Meanwhile, using old-school tactics from across the globe, Folksbier uses traditional methods to brew their beers, like the O.B.L. (Old Bavarian Lager), a crisp, unfiltered, German-style Helles lager. Our favorite, the tart and malty Raspberry Glow-Up, a Berliner-Weisse in a deep ruby hue, makes the perfect complement (both visually and gustatorily) to a fresh and summery serving of avocado-green guacamole.
TACO TIP: Chef Zack only serves tacos on Mondays, but you can roll by anytime for his pitch-perfect esquite (corn off the cob with Cotija, chile, and lime) and juicy pork gorditas.