You Can’t Trust a Mexican Restaurant with a Name Like Rachel’s Anyway

So last week, I was supposed to have tried out that Mexican Restaurant, Rachel’s, in Park Slope. My dinner meeting ended up getting cancelled because of the 27.9 feet of snow we got on Tuesday, so I went back home straight after work in wanting. I wasn’t in super high hopes of great satisfaction from Rachel’s–how could I possibly put all my trust into Mexican food made by a woman named Rachel, anyway? Suspect. But as Mexican food is just about my favorite thing on the planet, there was definitely a glimmer of hope and anticipation in the would-be burrito of that night.

The seed had been planted, so a few days passed and I still had a hankering for a massive meat-stuffed tortilla. I’d just gotten home from my post-work run to a terribly empty refrigerator. Even if I hadn’t been lacking the energy that I’d expended at the gym, I was surely lacking the motivation to brave the winter cold again after a long day. So I made the Seamless decision.

A few months back when I was visiting home in LA, my best friend Rachel and I were seeking to accomplish, together, my main goal of stuffing my face with as much grimy Mexican food as humanly possible in the short span of time I was Westside. When her friend Matty, who was also present for and in concurrence with the shared objective of acquiring burritos, took note of my urge for al pastor, we started talking about the sad state of East Coast Mexican fare. Yes, it’s very relevant to my life on a daily basis because as a native of Southern California, Tapatío runs through my veins and my heart is a beating hunk of carnitas.

As we sat around the table chowing down on our guac-y, cheesy, lard-dripping al pastor burritos, Matty told me that he lived in NYC for seven years, in which time he managed to find at least 1 excellent taquería: Cocoyoc. Not only, to my elation and supreme relief, do they serve al pastor; oh no, Taquería Cocoyoc also serves barbacoa (goat!). Yes! I really went out on a limb for this one, but I wholeheartedly trusted his recommendation. So I put this chunk of informational gold in the safe deposit of my mind to be withdrawn once I got back to the City.

And this past weekend was the time. Obviously I had to order the al pastor burrito. There was no question about that. I also ordered, for the sake of sheer gluttony, one barbacoa soft taco just so I could taste the goat Matty highly recommended. And lastly, I got a side of guac to smother over all the goods.

The food was actually amazing. Taquería Cocoyoc is the first taquería I’ve come across since moving to New York City over a year and a half ago whose food I’d rate equally on the scale of Cali-not-Mexican Mexican as my old favorites in LA. I started off with the barbacoa. I love to save the best for last, so I took my time enjoying the crispy fried crust of the flavorful and tender goat meat. Cocoyoc tops their tacos with diced onion and fresh cilantro. Simple and perfect. There was a little more fat than I cared for, but I’m sort of obsessive about that sort of thing, and I was definitely able to work around the unwanted bits.

Then onto the gigantic crema fresca covered burrito. The al pastor was so tasty, the perfect mix of flavor and texture, the trifecta of spice, pork, and fat. The rice they used was red Mexican rice that tasted savory and not at all acidic like the canned tomato travesties other restaurants try to pull off as “Mexican” or “food.” They used flavorful (probably lardy) beans that you could just tell had been slow cooked and not dumped straight out of a giant Sysco can into the burrito. Moreover, their guac was actually made of avocados. Hallelujah. I’m not sure what I’m getting sometimes when it comes to guacamole in this city, so it was such a sight for my sore, starving eyes to see this creamy, chunky, fresh avocado dip with enough substance to serve as a meal on its own. Just the way it’s meant to be. The salsas were also delicious. The salsa verde was fresh, bright, and citrusy, and the other was robust and smoky and very spicy. The burrito al pastor was everything I’d hoped for.

I will definitely be a returning customer, most likely a regular, and I will definitely drag my friends to this sweet spot frequently. How glad and relieved I feel to finally have a go-to taquería in NYC, and so close to my own grungy little Bushwick apartment. How can you trust a Mexican restaurant by the name of Rachel’s, indeed. Taquería Cocoyoc all the way. Thanks, Matty, for the sound suggestion! Right on.

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