The Ultimate Taco

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Bar Taco – Westport, CT & Port Chester, NY 

Not only is their duck taco one of the best tacos ever to grace my lips with its presence, but it’s probably among the best duck dishes I’ve ever had as well. Albeit small, so you’ll need to order two or three or seven.

Truck – Bedford, NY

There is literally only one other place on Earth that has made me love fried oysters. Normally I am much more partial to the raw variety. But Truck nails it. Mostly because the batter doesn’t overwhelm the mollusk, which is truly the vital component and yet so many others fail at this. Nonetheless, Truck sticks the landing. Accompanied with farm fresh toppings and a homemade Tex-Mex tartar that sings. A close second is also their market veggie, but it depends on the season. When butternut squash is available, it’s a must.

 Pera – New York, NY

What? A Turkish Taco? Well, if the Koreans and the Japanese can muscle in on Mexico’s culinary turf, why not the Turks? And wow do they bring the muscle. And one of the most delicious preparations of lamb I’ve ever had. Granted let’s give a huge nod to the saucier because that’s the true belle of the ball.

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Pera

303 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10017(212) 878-6301peranyc.com

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The stars are primarily for the food. The service is actually hit and miss. First time we went it was pretty slow. And by slow, I mean if we didn’t ask for things to be sped along, we’d still probably be there. But the second time we went it was as though they remembered us and redeemed themselves in spades. Hard to say until I go a third time for the tie-breaker.

As for the decor, it’s nice. Simple and elegant, but nothing too lavish either. And the crowd seems to be more business than pleasure. But VERY packed regardless. Not an open table in the place at 6:30pm on a Tuesday.

But forget about all of that, because the moment the bread hits the table, Pera shines. What I mean by that is the bread is like nothing you’ve ever had. Akin to a souffle, it is light and airy and served with crumbled feta that literally melts into the steam of the bread.

The dolma (stuffed grape leaves) are also solid. Made turkish style with currants, the way I like them.

And the dates wrapped in pastirma (Turkish sopressata) were also pretty awesome.

But then, the dark horse rode in. The fried calamari. A dish I’m seldom a fan of, so much so, that when my wife wanted to order it, I rolled my eyes. Well, I wound up eating a lot of crow on this one. And a ton of calamari along with it. It was easily the best I’ve ever had. By a wide margin. Served with hot peppers, chives and sucuk (spicy sausage).

Then for entrees, I had the Lamb Adana, which was solid. But nothing better than it is at other Turkish haunts in the city. That said if you’re craving lamb, I would skip it and go for the lamb “tacos.” HIGHLY recommend. Can’t decide which is more amazing, those or the fried calamari.

Also worthy of note, the salmon entree was excellent, especially considering it’s not a Turkish fish.

Now for the only two misses: I found the okra entree to be a touch bland. And for dessert, the chocolate volcano was just okay- shoulda gone with the Baklava. And I will… Next time.

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