I’ve been trying to meet up with Dr. Taco since this past spring, when we began exchanging Instagram messages. Finally on Saturday the stars, especially the one that’s been baking New York City, aligned and we set a rendezvous for one of his favorite foods, tacos at Mi Dulce Mexico. And not just any tacos, Sinaloense style ones from Northwestern Mexico.
Dr. Taco, whose real name is Steven Alvarez is an English professor at St. John’s University, where he teaches a course called Taco Literacy that explores the foodways of Mexican immigrants in the United States. He’d originally suggested we meet for Colombian burgers, but I insisted on tacos, which is how we wound up at Mi Dulce Mexico. I’ve passed by the bakery/taqueria numerous times and never thought to eat there, but Alvarez told me that since February it’s been the new home of América Rodriguez, the chef of Taqueria Sinaloense, which closed a while back.
Since I skipped breakfast and am at root a glutton I was seriously considering a plate of machaca con huevos, a Sinaolense beef jerky cooked with eggs and tomato that is a typical breakfast, or chilorio, another specialty of the Nortwestern state. The latter is a life-changing heap of pork that’s been slowly cooked down for hours, then fried in lard, and lastly cooked in a ruddy concoction of chilies and other herbs and spices. When you’re dining with a professor of taco literacy though, tacos are the way to go. So we each got three: a machaca con huevos, birria de res, and tacos arabes.
“Can’t believe I’ve never had a taco arabe,” I said giddily as we waited for our order. We found a shady spot by a public bench and after the requisite photo shoot dug into our tacos as an older gent just down the street proceeded to whack away at a tree with a machete. My favorite was the taco arabe, a pork taco with a decidedly Middle Eastern accent wrapped in a flour tortilla. “It tastes just like shawarma,” I exclaimed. The machaca con huevos was good, but that arabe was a tough act to follow. Alvarez told me he gets shipments of machaca from his mother, lucky man. My least favorite was the birria, but only because I’m so spoiled by Birrialandia.
I don’t think it was intentional on his part, but Alvarez and I managed to have a short survey of tacos: two from Puebla and one from Sinaloa. “We should have had a chilorio too,” I said as we finished our third taco. “Oh man, does that mean I get an F in taco literacy?” Alvarez joked.
Many thanks to the good Doctor for hipping me to the fact that Sinaolense style tacos are still alive and kicking in Queens. Doc, next time I’ll return the favor by giving you a course in regional Thai!
Mi Dulce Mexico, 35-58 97th St., Corona, 718-533-9999