Photo by Olgamiltsova/ Adobe Stock
From hard shell to soft shell and meat lover to veggie friendly, there’s a taco in the Hudson Valley for you. Ready to dig into deliciousness?
By Francesca Furey and Steve Fowler, with additional reporting by Abby Audenino
We can’t get enough of tacos.
The highly snackable dish is simple, yet so versatile. Lucky for local foodies, the region’s authentic Mexican restaurants, fusion concepts, and farm-to-table establishments all contribute their own unique takes. At these hotspots, find classics like carnitas, al pastor, chicken, and barbacoa. Fish taco fans will adore options like catfish, mahi-mahi, and tuna tataki. Plus, mushrooms, cauliflower, and other plant-based twists are perfect for vegetarian diners. Without further ado, check out our list of can’t-miss taco stops.
P.S. Are we missing a spot? Email us at email@example.com so we can add it.
Despite it not being named Taco Taco, this spot has mastered plant-based taco fillings. Go for the classic Roswell, filled with Southwest ground “beef” (spiced soy curls crafted in-house) and topped with house-made “queso” and a Frito chip crumble. For a more adventurous meal, try a Space Cowboy (pulled “pork,” Coca-Cola BBQ sauce, onion rings, Poblano slaw, and jalapeño garlic crema) or the UnFish (marinated and batter-fried “fish,” red cabbage slaw, and roasted red pepper crema). The perfect go-with: a pineapple or tamarind Jarritos soda.
In an unassuming parking lot off Main Street, you’ll find a Mexican hotspot that Dutchess residents adore. The sister restaurant of Maya Café in Fishkill, their house-made, soft corn tortillas are a pillar for righteous and authentic tacos. You can’t go wrong with the popular tacos de camaron—three deep-fried tortillas filled with shrimp, black beans, lettuce, and pico de gallo, and topped with chile de arbol sauce and avocado. The Mexico City-style tacos (grilled chicken or steak, cheese, pico, guacamole, and cilantro) and tacos al carbon (two grilled skirt steak tacos rolled in a second layer of flour tortillas) are equally excellent.
Cancun’s is a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Red Hook that prides itself on using only the freshest ingredients. With all of the classics like al pastor, Cancun’s also offers a few fun varieties like bacon-wrapped shrimp, fajita, and classic Mexican tacos topped with mango and fresh cheese. Make sure you also take advantage of the lengthy list of margaritas, including the house margarita, which is Cancun’s own original blend of juices and tequila and comes in flavors such as pomegranate, mango, and passionfruit.
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One of the most recent openings on this list, Casa Mexico brings beautiful birria tacos to Hopewell Junction. For $15, dig into three cheesy, savory, and spicy snacks. Customize them by style, filling, and shell. A few of the savory stuffings include chicken tinga, chorizo, barbacoa, and more. In addition, plant-based options range from soy al pastor to chipotle mushrooms.
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A trip to the Stockade District isn’t complete without a stop at this modern taqueria with plenty of bar seating. For the best experience, get a taco box, which comes with two tacos and a side (plus guac for $2). If you’re feeling authentic, try the juicy, soft al pastor—a roasted pork shoulder with grilled pineapple, onion, and cilantro—or the barbacoa, with coffee and chili-rubbed brisket braised in Modelo Negra beer. Prefer a veggie-based bite? We’re fond of the smoky beet with caramelized onions, buffalo cauliflower wings, and the “Three Sisters,” with grilled zucchini and yellow squash.
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If you’re looking for taco heaven, head straight to this outpost frequented by Marist College kids and foodies alike. Taco ordering is simple: choose between Mexican-style (cilantro, onions, radish, and scallions) or Texas-style (Monterrey cheese, lettuce, pico, and crema drizzle), then load up with your choice of meat. Plant-based options like soy chorizo and al pastor or vegetable mixes are also available. Tacos can be served in soft or crispy tortillas and turned into a meal with rice and beans. El Azteca cooks up a killer birria taco (a fried taco with stewed beef coupled with a rich consommé) which was one of the hottest food trends in 2020.
If the 3,400-members-strong Nyack Eats Facebook group constantly raves about El Cuñao, you know it’s that good. The tacos are relatively inexpensive and the recipes are inspired by the owner’s native Mexican state of Guerrero. We suggest diving into a trio of traditional tacos—options include al pastor, carnitas, cecina, chorizo, and carne asada. You can stick with the popular quesabirria tacos with Oaxacan cheese or order tacos placero, a large, handmade tortilla loaded with rice, Mexican home fries, and chorizo.
Another college student favorite, Fresco Tortillas is located just near Vassar College. Fresco serves its tacos on flour tortillas that are made from scratch and baked in the tortilla machine. A variety of tacos are offered in either hard or soft shells, or in taco bowls. The eatery also offers vegetarian options like the chili tofu taco for those who love a classic taco without the meat.
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While Frontera only has two types of tacos on the menu, these two variations are both solid standbys that are served with hand-stretched yellow corn tortillas, rice, citrus chipotle slaw, and your choice of charro, refried, or black beans. The street tacos are served with grilled chicken, melted Jack cheese, caramelized onions, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and guacamole. The gringo beef, on the other hand, are served in crispy corn shells with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, mixed cheeses, tomatoes, and sour cream. With two solid taco options and a bar full of tequila, Frontera is the perfect stop for your next night out.
In the foothills of the Gunks, there’s a small, family-run Mexican shop that’s been a local stomping ground for over a decade. There are only six corn taco varieties to choose from, but they’re all amazing. For meat lovers, there’s the carne asada, carnitas, chorizo, or pollo asado. Pescatarians and vegetarians will enjoy de pescado (tilapia) or grilled vegetables. What makes these tacos special is the guac, house-made in a traditional molcajete and made spicy, medium, or mild.
With over a dozen taco varieties and a front-row view of the Hudson, it’s no surprise Hudson Taco is a Best Tacos back-to-back winner in our Best of Hudson Valley awards. In addition to the classics, you’ll find cola pork carnitas, Baja fish (lager-battered cod and slaw), General Tso’s (fried chicken, herb salad, pickled Fresno chiles, and yum yum sauce), HV pork belly (Chinese spareribs, Asian slaw, and Chinese mustard mayo), and mushroom & shishito (portobello, blistered shishito, and queso fresco blend). Low-carb eaters can order their fillings in bibb lettuce.
“Tacos have evolved from simple street fare into a culinary mainstay. What other food item can you get with unique and intense flavors and not break the bank?”
–Matthew Sherry, executive chef at Hudson Taco
What if we told you a Oaxacan cocina is dishing out incredible tacos in a former, 85-year-old church? (Well… it’s true!) In this historic setting, try a few (or all 10) authentic corn tacos, like al pastor, birria, carnitas, chorizo, grilled shrimp, and sole fillet. You’ll find some other options that are few and far between in the Valley, including shredded chicken tinga in a chipotle and tomato sauce, slow-cooked beef tongue (lengua de res), marinated beef confit, and adobo-marinated pork cutlets (cecina enchilada). Every taco order comes with three tacos topped the authentic way—with fresh onion, cilantro, lime, and radishes.
Open six days per week, La Casa Latina is a hidden gem in Catskill that serves great tacos. Menu highlights include the fish and mango tacos and the tacos borrachos, made with flank steak marinated in dark Mexican beer. La Casa Latina also offers a variety of Mexican fare, including enchiladas, fajitas, burritos, and other plates.
Los Jalapeños has a wide selection of Mexican food, but its tacos are the real star of the menu. With classic options from chicken, shrimp, and steak to inclusive options like tofu avocado, the tacos here clock in at about $3 each and are served in a soft shell corn tortilla with diced white onion and cilantro.
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Wappingers Falls and New Paltz
Gluten-free, blue corn tortilla shells? Count us in. This funky, fresh, Southwestern-inspired spot has tons of accolades from Best of Hudson Valley nods to a short rib burrito that Food Network named one of the best in the country. But Mexicali Blue is most known for their fresh and delicious fish tacos, with stellar options like ahi tuna (teriyaki- and sesame-marinated tuna, cabbage, guac, and wasabi aioli), bang bang shrimp (battered shrimp topped with coconut sriracha aioli, cabbage, and guac), and mango catfish (grilled Cajun catfish layered with cole slaw, jack cheese, and herb sour cream).
“What makes a taco authentic are the ingredients and the marinades. Street tacos, for example, are usually cooked with pork lard. In our deli, we sell traditional Mexican meats: chorizo, steak, carnitas, and tongue. We add a little cilantro, onion, and lime on the side, and of course, red salsa.”
–Guillermo Zayas, chef/owner at El Cuñao Deli
Add some Mediterranean flair to your taco fervor at this modern Scarsdale spot, which offers gluten-free and paleo-friendly options. Take advantage of the fresh seafood with options like grilled king salmon or crispy oyster and chipotle aioli. Landlubbers won’t be let down by the mezcal lime chicken or pulled pork salsa verde. Vegetarian options are also available. Order three for $14 every day, and treat yourself to the wide variety of margaritas.
Kingston, Tivoli, and Woodstock
Since 1980, Sante Fe has been dishing out a small but mighty taco menu across the Valley. Four delicious but wildly different options will have you coming back to try them all. Start simple with the pulled pork (slow-cooked pork, caramelized onions, and white cheddar) and steak (grilled, marinated steak, sweet red onions, cilantro, lime, and white cheddar), or spice it up with authentic Oaxacan tacos—pulled achiote chicken and homemade mole poblano. Specials are constantly cropping up and you might be lucky enough to score the Philly cheesesteak, blackened scallops, lobster, or fried shrimp with Thai chili drizzle on the menu.
We’re surprised that Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri isn’t all over this dive just minutes from the Hudson River. The white corn tacos are small, making them perfect vessels for taste testing the whole menu. The classic beef is a customer favorite—Amish natural ground beef with queso blanco, shredded romaine, and pico de gallo. Also worth trying: the fried, wild Gulf shrimp taco with creamy corn and red pepper tartar sauce, and the blackened, wild-caught cod topped with citrus, fennel, cabbage, and salsa verde.
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Hailing from the Zacatecas region of Mexico, Chef Fidelia’s mission is to serve authentic Mexican cuisine. Purists will delight in the traditional styles like steak, carnitas, and chorizo, while adventurers can take on the beef tongue option. With soft-shell snacks just under $3 a pop, it’s Taco Tuesday every day at The Taco Factory.
Yonkers, Tarrytown, Bronxville, Pleasantville
This Westchester-based, fast-casual restaurant is pumping out fresh, yellow corn tortillas (from a Yonkers-based tortilleria) that are truly extraordinary. They dish up Cal-Mex style tacos—served two tacos at a time—with your choice of chicken, chorizo, fish, or steak. We’re especially fond of the BBQ pulled pork (slow-cooked pork shoulder and caramelized onion), braised pork belly (sweet with pineapple glaze and pineapple salsa), and the more unusual tempura-battered shrimp topped with mango salsa and tomatillo sauce. If you like your tacos crunchy, an extra 50 cents will buy you hard shell substitutes.
“My favorite taco is our fried fish taco with red cabbage slaw, guaca salsa, cilantro, and radish. It’s dynamite — packed full of flavor and melts in your mouth.”
–Nick Mesce, owner of The Taco Project
Vibrant and lively, this taqueria has indoor and outdoor seating, and a selection that includes the main proteins (chicken, pork, steak, fish, shrimp), plus some vegetarian options like portabella, falafel, and tofu. Special-priced tacos on Tuesdays means you can (and should) throw in an order of Mexican street corn.
Tacos With a Twist
Go beyond authentic and try these out-of-the-ordinary options.
BULGOGI BEEF TACOS
Crazy Bowlz, Kingston and New Paltz
Thin, marinated slices of beef sandwiched between soft- or hard-shell tortillas, with mango salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese.
La Charla, New Paltz
Oaxacan-style, sautéed grasshoppers (you read that right) with avocado mash and salsa verde on corn tortillas.
CHICKEN ALFREDO TACOS
Mt Kisco Diner, Mount Kisco
Breaded chicken cutlets are deep-fried and used as the taco “shell,” then filled with angel hair pasta and alfredo sauce (bring a big appetite).
SMOKY BEET TACOS
Diego’s Taqueria, Kingston
Brined and grilled beets are piled high on corn tortillas and topped with caramelized onion, arugula, and cilantro crema.
TUNA CRUDO TACOS
Butterfield, Stone Ridge
Crispy tortillas stuffed with fresh tuna, apples, and cabbage, with spicy Korean dressing drizzle and furikake seasoning (sesame and seaweed).