I have finally discovered the best burrito in New York City and, to my surprise, it's not at the highly exalted Bay Area transplant, Dos Toros Taqueria (which, let's face it, makes good fast-food style burritos, but so does Chipotle), nor even at the deliciously hidden Mexican gem on Avenue A, Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery. No, readers, the BEST burrito I have had, to date, in this city, may be right on your very block this weekend -- at a NYC Street Fair.
While wandering through a cascade of vendors dripping over Lexington Avenue at last weekend's "Oktoberfest" street fair, I knew I was hungry and on the prowl for some street meat, but somehow nothing was striking my fancy. Then I saw it, a big sign that read "Authentic Mexican Grill Burritos," superimposed on a banner of a Mexican flag, and I knew that I had found something special.
The succulent smell of chicken and beef being grilled right in front of me wafted up into my nose and beckoned me toward the crowded food vendor. Once there, a warm tortilla was smothered with freshly grilled, still smoking, chicken pieces, along with all of the toppings I desired. Slowly, the burrito grew, as rich black beans, grated cheese, chopped onions, tomatoes and tasty salsa were layered over and around the chicken, and topped with my choice of sauce, then rolled up and wrapped in foil to make it the perfect on-the-go meal. I chose a chipotle sauce, which gave the burrito a spicy kick that hung around my mouth and only made me want more.
As I enjoyed the fantastic filling, I asked the servers where I might order the burrito in a restaurant in NYC. To my dismay, I learned that the vendor, which hails from Puebla, Mexico, does not serve their products in any restaurant in New York, and only frequents the street fairs. However, not to fear, as they do tend to appear at nearly every fair on this list, which is updated often.
Mardi Gras Festival Productions is behind the majority of the street fairs in Manhattan. Don't be fooled by the catchy names of each fair, as most serve the same food and sell the same sheets, Pashminas, hats, computer accessories, and played-out "I <3 NYC" t-shirts. Although, I must admit, it is a great way to spend some time outdoors in the city. Many of my hats and scarves were purchased at a NYC street fair, and I always find it hard to resist the cheesy-fried aromas of the $5 arepas, which always pair well with the $1 lemonade specials. If you look carefully, you might also just find a good deal at the occasional hippie clothing, vintage item or specialty art vendor.