Remember when I told you about an epic taco event taking place this past weekend? Well, it was flipping fantastic and indeed epic.
Thrillist's 2015 Taco Knockout drew more than 600 people to the Hudson Hotel's Tequila Park Taqueria on Saturday May 2. There were pinatas and sombreros and tons to eat with 10 different tacos from NYC restaurants all competing for the acclaimed Taco Knockout belt.
|The 2014 Taco Knockout belt|
Armed with empty stomaches, my pals and I had a mission to try all 10 in the 4 hours we were allotted and we felt the mission was more than doable. We were given our cocktail tickets and a fancy blue chip in which to vote for our favorite.
First things first...Milagro cocktails! I tried the "Freshest Margarita" while my friends sipped on the "Paloma Milagrosa."
Then we got right down to it. Here's the listing of tacos in the order we tried them and our thoughts on their merits:
Chef Alfonso Ruiz & Chef Tom Casatelli’s Sunset Pork with chipotle pineapple pork, pickled jalapeno corn tortilla, picked red onion & chipotle crema: This creation from Ho'Brah was a fairly standard taco, but delicious nonetheless. The meat was cooked nicely but the flavor combination was nothing special.
|Sunset Pork Taco from Ho'Brah|
|Cho Nut Taco from Kimchi Smoke|
Tequila Park Taqueria Executive Chef Geoff Rudaw’s Chicken Vindaloo Taco with mango chutney, raita & crispy mee krob noodles: This was my favorite hands down and the one I voted for. I love it when flavor combinations from different ends of the world meet and this taco epitomized that concept. The only thing we wanted was a bit more heat.
|Chicken Vindaloo Taco from Tequila Park Taqueria|
Executive Chef Jesús Nuñez’s Taco y Olé with beef oxtail, fried egg cream, piquillo pepper, crispy jamon Serrano, herbs and pickled veggies: This taco, from Socarrat Paella Bar was another flavor fusion. We also appreciated how colorful it was, and I was a big fan of how the sauces mixed well in each individual bite.
|Taco y Olé from Socarrat Paella Bar|
Chefs & Owners Eduard Fraundeer & Wolfgang Ben’s Crispy Chicken Schnitzel Taco with ramp remoulade, radish and Austrian pumpkinseed salsa: "I love ramps," my friend exclaimed as she took a bite into this taco. The chefs from Edi & The Wolf really threw a curve ball with this taco, both because it was the first hard shell we had tasted and also because...schnitzel!?! It was much enjoyed, especially because of the ramps.
|Crispy Chicken Schnitzel Taco from Edi & The Wolf|
Chef Thomas Kelly’s Smoky Carnitas Tacos with manchego, crispy tortilla strips, corn salsa & creamy chipotle: Food truck cum storefront Mexicue went all-out comfort food with their taco. All together I thought it tasted reminiscent of a cheeseburger, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. My only complaint about this taco was how much liquid spilled out whenever I tried to take a bite. Definitely not something to eat on a first date.
|Smoky Carnitas Taco from Mexicue|
|Buffalo Chicken Taquitos from Taquitoria|
|Mahi Mahi BLT Taco from La Equina|
|House-Cured Pork Belly Taco from Tres Carnes|
Executive Chef Brian Tsao’s Beef Bulgogi Tacos with wonton skins, Asian pear, kimchi slaw, toasted sesame & scallion: Last but not least, this taco from Mira Sushi & Izakaya wins the award for most likely not a taco, but it was still good anyway. The crispy wonton shell gave it an interesting flair and the beef was flavorful.
|Beef Bulgogi Taco from Mira Sushi & Izakaya|
|Guacamole from Rosa Mexicano|
There was also fantastic entertainment by DJ Dirty Digits, percussionist Jimmy Lopez and flash mob performances by the Northeast’s finest mariachi band, Mariachi Tapatio de Alvaro Paulino and folkloric dance group Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Nueva York.
|Mariachi Tapatio de Alvaro Paulino|
|Where can I get one of those dresses?|
As the event wrapped up and everyone yearned for their stretch pants, Mexicue was awarded the 2015 Thrillist Taco Knockout belt for their Smoky Carnitas Taco.
|Chef Barry Frish from Mexicue wins the Taco Knockout|
And lastly, here are some snaps of my and my friends with our taco-eating hats on...literally :)
Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! Celebrate responsibly, please!