After a particularly disheartening day at work I (Emily) dragged myself into BKTX headquarters, i.e. the living room of the apartment we share. “I need food but I can’t think. Can you just pick something for me? I don’t care what it is,” I said to Olivia, who had kindly offered her services in helping me eat some delivery before we got to work on this week’s post.
Olivia scrolled through GrubHub and suddenly balked. “What is the DEAL New Yummy Taco? How can they possibly have four out of five stars with over 200 reviews? Maybe… maybe today is the day we go to New Yummy Taco.”
Here, dear reader, are the cold hard facts. For three years, we avoided the Greenpoint Yummy Taco, a perpetually empty, somewhat dirty half-Tex Mex half-Chinese food restaurant, mostly because of the washed out images of brown, watery guacamole and lumpy ground beef on the windows that looked like Montezuma’s Revenge had already ravaged the place. We were shocked to find a second, NEW Yummy Taco, near our new neighborhood in South Slope. Neither of these neighborhoods is known for affordable real estate, and after spending years walking past the storefronts and never seeing a single person inside, we naturally couldn’t understand how these empty restaurants with exceedingly unappetizing pictures of the food they produce could possibly afford to stay in business. We were even more surprised to learn that there are no fewer than seventeen Yummy Tacos (and New Yummy Tacos) distributed across Brooklyn and Queens, all with the same logo. The only thing holding us back from really diving into the mystery of Yummy Taco was the knowledge that we would, one day, have to try eating their food. Buoyed by unnaturally high delivery ratings and a few effusive Yelp reviews, including some that claim it is the best Tex Mex in the borough, one particularly enthusiastic Google review finally pushed us over the edge:
Game on, dude.
As we started down the stairs of the apartment, Olivia said “I can’t believe I’m excited to eat New Yummy Taco. I never thought this day would come.” A phrase from the book I’m reading came to my mind: “Art is despair with dignity.” New Yummy Taco was definitely despair, but COULD there be a chance to find dignity in there too?
When we arrived at New Yummy Taco, the sign flashed open and the door was ajar, but all of the chairs were already stacked on tables. We ordered a chicken soft taco, a “Tex Mex Chili” crunchy taco (which just meant ground beef), steak quesadillas, and nachos with guacamole and steak. It was $10. When the food arrived, it came with two tiny baby cups of salsa — real red salsa of a higher quality than Pace — and there were bottles of Sriracha on the counter.
Both of us preferred the steak quesadilla best of all. It was truly an outstanding quesadilla, where the cheese gets to its true melting point and gels a bit. The steak was almost unnaturally tender, a bit charred, and perfectly seasoned. It was full-on umami. The chicken was similar, a bit more charred-tasting even, but was a little pinker inside than we liked. The flour tortillas are worth mentioning, exactly the right texture with no weird processed flavor, which is hard to come by. The ground beef crunchy taco was Texas public school cafeteria realness, and though the guacamole looked terrifying, it really wasn’t that bad. We probably wouldn’t order the nachos again, but the quesadillas (and we suspect the steak tacos) would make for some top notch late night grub. Overall, we thought it was better than Taco Cabana, which frankly, we love. Weirdly, the chips were EXACTLY Taco Cabana chips — the red and white ones that are greasy but somehow always stale. While we dug in to our styrofoam containers, the five people (FIVE!) working there sat down at one of the two (TWO!) other tables in the place to eat a beautiful feast of glass noodles, pea leaves, and some kind of chicken that was definitely not on the menu (but we wished it was: one detail of note is that each Yummy Taco location offers varying amounts of Chinese food). One person left to make one single small delivery while we ate.
Afterwards, we felt basically like how we do after eating at Taco Cabana: gastrointestinally worried and in need of a shower, but comforted by food that would be passable in Texas. “I have a satisfied belly,” said Olivia as we walked out. I started burping and hiccuping at the same time somewhat uncontrollably, so take that for what it is. Twenty minutes later, Olivia ran down the hall shouting, “Oh the belly ache is coming! I’m getting the belly ache! I feel it, I feel it happening!” So, it's pretty authentic actually.
Many questions about New Yummy Taco remain: why does every location have its own website? Why were all of the chairs put away hours before it closed? How can it possibly be so cheap, yet so empty? And how can they afford both their rent AND so many employees? Maybe it's simple. Maybe one taco-loving family with terrible photography skills and a broken printer happily owns all of the locations. Maybe seventeen severely non-creative taco shop owners are stealing an obvious name and dancing taco clip art from each other all over town. Maybe something darker is going on. All we know is that there is NO explanation to be found, and the quesadillas are pretty damn good.