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Sunday, April 8, 2007

Brooklyn Tacos and Planet Hollywood

I decided to go on an adventure to Brooklyn for tacos. I went to Sunset Park, which has a large Mexican population (although it does not rival the Chinese population that Sunset Park has). I took the 1 train in Manhattan to the D, and took the D all the way to 36th Street in Brooklyn. I then walked down to 39th Street to begin my taco eating tour and then headed north on 5th Avenue. I ended up at the Grand Army Plaza, on the northern fringe of Park Slope.

So anyway, I used Google Maps to show the path I took and where I stopped. Click here to check that out. Also, here is a little image that shows my trajectory.

The path, more or less, of my taco crusade

The first place I went to was called Tacos 2004. A better name for a taco place I cannot recall. I went in, was seated by a lady dressed scantily in a tight black skirt which was more than a few inches above her knees, and also a form-fitting red something or another, perhaps a haltertop, I'm not really sure. She was very nice and, in contradiction to her outfit, quite appropriate in her manner. I ordered a Corona, two carnitas (fried pork) tacos, and one chorizo (sausage) taco.

The tacos at Tacos 2004

The tacos at 2004 were good. I suppose not blow-your-mind good, but certainly good. They came with guacamole already on them, which is a little unusual for a Mexican tauqeria. Normally you have to ask for it. I usually don't put gaucamole on my tacos, but I was quite fine with it. They also gave a red salsa which was pleasant but not extremely flavorful. Another unusual thing about the tacos was the way they were folded, sort of making a cone shape, and also they they were wrapped in wax paper.

So there was some really drunk guy at the bar who the waitresses (all of whom, by the way, wear the tight black skirts and tight red shirts) had to escort out. There was a friendly guy sitting next to me who kept smiling at me. I think he was just a nice fellow, it seemed he was drinking a bit, perhaps he wanted to talk, but I had no idea if he spoke English or not and I really wasn't interested in finding out.

The waitresses at Tacos 2004 all dress alike, in a rather provocative manner

Toward the end of my meal another white guy came in, which I must say made me feel a bit relieved, for it isn't easy being the only white guy in a room full of Mexicans. But the white guy was probably in his 50s and a little creepy. He also kept smiling at me, but his smiles were even weirder than the ones from the Mexican. I paid my check, which was $6.50 for the tacos, plus $5 for the Corona, and left, happy to leave behind the uncomfortable glances.

I walked up 5th Avenue, which is a rather working-class area. It's not crappy, but it's certainly not amazingly nice. Like I mentioned, it's mostly Chinese with a growing Mexican constituency. As I walked I could see Upper New York Bay, and in the distance I even saw the Statue of Liberty.

This picture gives you an idea of the working-class feel of Sunset Park. Although you can't see it very well, within the red box is the Statue of Liberty (note: I added the red box using Microsoft Paint, it's not there in real life)

So after walking for about 15 minutes or so I reached De Guerreros Tacos. This place was more of a take-out place, with only a few tables, as opposed to Tacos 2004, which was full-service and included a bar. I simply told the nice fellow what I wanted and sat down and waited for a few minutes, and then a nice lady (his wife, perhaps?) served me my tacos.

The tacos at De Guerreros, which were a bit more traditional than the ones at Tacos 2004

At De Guerreros I ordered another carnitas taco, and also a cecinas taco, cecinas being a dried, salty beef. The tacos were constructed in the traditional way and simply topped with onions and cilantro. They were served with a salsa verde. I thought I would just comment that the salsa verde contained cilantro, just like the "hot sauce" at Las Americas and the sauce at Roti Roll, mentioned in other recent posts. I must again reiterate that cilantro is awesome.

I would have to say I enjoyed the tacos at De Guerreros more. The cecinas taco was really outstanding. Also, there were no creepy men giving me smiles.

After my tacos at De Guerreros (that made it 5 for the day, a fine but by no means outstanding showing) I decided to continue walking up 5th Avenue, which would lead me to Park Slope, the much talked about Brooklyn neighborhood oozing with gentrification. It is so funny, you're on the same street, and one minute you're in a working class, run-down ethnic neighborhood (although Sunset Park is really not that bad compared to other places), and the next minute you see a ton of white people walking around with their cool attire and iPods and Greenpeace patches, reading the Communist Manifesto and drinking lattes in organic coffee shops that pay their Mexican dishwashers a few cents more every hour.

But seriously, Park Slope, despite its preciousness and ultra-cool, or so they think, inhabitants, is really a pretty charming place. If I had a lot of money I suppose I wouldn't mind spending a few million on a brownstone.

A commercial drag in Park Slope, Brooklyn

A residential drag in Park Slope. Ah, brownstones!

I finished my walk at the Grand Army Plaza, at the northwest corner of Prospect Park. It's a very regal area, and Park Slope starts right across the street. It was a nice place to end my tour, which started with me eating tacos in Sunset Park and ended with me walking by little kids on skateboards and bicycles wearing 100% hemp clothing, trailed by their parents, who wore the same clothes, all smiling and laughing and pushing their long hippy hair out of their faces.

The Grand Army Plaza, where my journey concluded

I took the 2 train all the way back home. At a certain point a family got on, a father, mother, maybe a 1 year old boy, 3 girls, maybe between the ages of 8 and 14, and a grandmother. They were all very nice looking and apparently pretty well off. They were fashionable. The father wore a cowboy hat. They were from somewhere in the South, maybe Texas, I don't know. There's a lot I could say about them, but I'm tired so I'll leave it at this: they were going to eat at Planet Hollywood in Times Square, and when the dad got up from his seat to exit the train his jacket and shirt pushed up and I could see that he was wearing a thong. Yes, that's correct, a thong.

Have fun at Planet Hollywood, you rebel bastards.