February 28, 2009

Rico’s Tacos (Ay Que Rico!)

by Payman Bahmani

Ever since Kayoko packed her bags and returned to the land of eternal sunshine and spotless minds, I’ve been having an ever-growing yearning to return to the good old days of the NY Umamiventure. In particular, I’ve been reliving and re-tasting in my mind the sultry sandwiches we ate during the Banh Mi Crawl, or the “International Sandwich Rager” as I like to call it. That day we ate a seemingly impossible array of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches from the best that Sunset Park had to offer, and topped it off with some tortas from Rico’s Tacos (hence the term international) because it was also in the area–and because I’m not one to put an end to a rager. I rage. That’s what I do.

So one cold and dreary Brooklyn morning, on our way to Costco, V and I figured we’d stop by and have a banh mi. Unfortunately I failed to consider the effect that Chinese New Year would have on a Vietnamese sandwich shop (how did I not see this?), as Ba Xuyen was closed in observance. I had to figure an alternative, and quite honestly, when it comes to a banh mi in this neighborhood, there’s no alternative to Ba Xuyen, though others come close. And those who know me know I don’t like to come close. I like to rage. Ragers are number one, not number two.

Not wanting to leave empty handed–nor with an empty stomach–I had one of my greatest ideas to date: I remembered Rico’s Tacos was not too far off, and decided that’s how I’d celebrate Chinese New Year. As soon as I stepped inside Rico’s I realized the Year of the Ox was going to be a very good year.


Unfortunately there wasn’t any ox on the menu, as I certainly would have ordered that. But no matter, as I ordered the closest thing, the Caldo de Camarones (pictured at top); a dark red, spicy, shrimp-filled wonder of a soup that’s only served on weekends. V ordered the pozole, another weekend-only soup made with hominy, pork, chiles, and other seasonings:


But remember that I rage, so there’s no way I could have left it at just that; so we ordered a Torta de Milanesa de Res (breaded steak sandwich) along with the most intense torta I’ve ever seen, the Torta Cubana: Rico’s version of the Cuban Sandwich, done Mexican style.

Here’s the Torta de Milanesa de Res, a breaded fried steak cutlet made with Rico’s standard fillings of refried beans, tomato, shredded mozzarella, avocado, pickled jalapenos and carrots, and mayo:


And here’s the madness inducing Torta Cubana, made with all of Rico’s standard fillings mentioned above, plus a breaded fried pork cutlet, chorizo with scrambled eggs, and three hot dog style sausages. Lava ass will no doubt ensue, but that’s how you rage! AMMMMMazing:


So although Ba Xuyen was not in the cards for that morning, I’m glad I was able to turn lemons into lemonade, or in this case, banh mis into tortas. Yes indeed, it’s going to be a very good year.

10 Comments

  • xppinkx
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Chinese new years is long gone babe…but RICO’s i’ll accept…we never have any taco trucks…so i dabbed in one in queens while waiting for my reservation fir thai…2 dollar steak tacos and salsa verde..u cant beat that man!!! everything is sooo drool worthy…miss NY for food and frolic…

    RAGE ON!!!

  • kayce.
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    what can i say other than: NOMnomNOMnom? i don’t have enough words to express my ny-food-culture jealousy… maybe one day ATL will be half as awesome. the camarones look amazing, btw. the only thing that would make them better is if the heads were still attached: shrimp brains = BEST PART!

    rage on, sir.

  • Paystyle
    Posted February 28, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    And I forgot to mention that apparently Rico’s 24 HOURS!!! I still have to personally verify this but oh man is life great if this is true!

  • kayoko
    Posted March 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Awesome post Pay! Those camerones are certainly delightful looking and the Torta cubana looks like something worth having a heart attack over.

    If it’s true about 24 hours, that’s ILL.

    Umamiventure #15 will be on Sunday 3/15 in NYC. Thinking a Lower East Side crawl or Greek in Astoria. I’m open to ideas. Stay tuned and GET HUNGRY!!!

  • Paystyle
    Posted March 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Astoria sounds good, though while we’re in Queens I’d love to hit up Sammy’s Halal.

  • Tyson
    Posted March 1, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Greek in ASTORIA? I’m so there! I can recommend lots of places near my apartment… also, some of the best Pakistani is Roti Boti at 21st and Astoria Blvd. That place is worth a brief walk away from the Ditmars area… tandoori quail, goat curry, foot curry, etc. They don’t skimp on the mustard oil. Also, excellent rice and nan.

  • kayoko
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 8:50 am

    If we do Astoria, we can do Roti Boti and Kebab Cafe for lamb sandwiches. YESSSSS!!! If Jackson Heights, taco crawl with Sammy’s stop?

  • Paystyle
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Both choices sound great, but when you present me w/the idea of a taco crawl, well…I would crawl 500 miles and I would crawl 500 more!

    My vote: Jackson Heights taco crawl w/Sammy’s stop!

  • Jud-san
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    You are the #1 Rager.

    The shrimp soup looks amazing, but the Cubano freaks me out.

  • Quesillo please
    Posted February 8, 2013 at 9:43 am

    The cheese you mention is certainly not mozzarella. It’s a Mexican cheese called “Oaxaca” cheese or as it is known in other parts of Mexico, “quesillo”.

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