The address of newly opened Otto's Tacos, 141 Second Avenue, has been so many things over the last few years — including a hamburger joint called Good Guys, which died in its infancy, a Subway, a Burritoville, and part of a Max Brenner — it's almost impossible to keep track. The rent is undoubtedly stratospheric and here's hoping the new place, which specializes in small tacos with a choice of five fillings, can make a go of it via the current trend of restaurant micro-focusing.
Taquitoria, which are really flautas. In an inspired piece of culinary theater, Otto's has made a small and shiny tortilla-making machine the center of attention. This mini-factory has a turntable upon which balls of masa dough are placed, then squished, into five-inch diameter tortillas. For purposes of comparison, a regular white-corn tortilla like the kind made in factories in Bushwick are six inches in diameter. Lest you think that's not a big difference, note that, by the principles of geometry, a six-inch tacos has 44 percent more surface area than a five-inch one.
On the other hand, though Otto's tortillas are smaller, they're also thicker and the masa dough more coarsely textured, making these tortillas more filling than slicker ones with a greater diameter. And the dough placed on the Otto's turntable for squishing will expand in your stomach like a sponge. This is most effectively shown in Otto's novel masa fries ($3), bent tongue depressors of crunchy and corny fried masa furnished with a spicy mayo dipping sauce. They're great, but you're going to need a friend to finish them.
Dressed with chopped onion and cilantro, the taquitos feature a choice of carne asada, carnitas, chicken, mushroom, and shrimp, priced around $3 apiece. The shrimp totally kicks ass, puddled with a serrano cream sauce that's so good, I'd put it on pancakes. The other fillings are fine, though they struggle with the strong-tasting masa for flavor supremacy.
The fillings are worked-over enough that you can't really discern much of a distinction between chicken, pork, and beef, though vegetarians are likely to be very pleased with the mushroom version.
[Chips and guac]
As mentioned earlier, there are masa fries, plus chips with a choice of two salsas, chips and guac, rice and beans, and churros with a dulce de leche dipping sauce as potential sides/desserts. The guac was rudimentary, just avocado, onions, cilantro, and a bit of lime juice (it could use a bigger squirt and a little more salt) with freshly fried chips not made from the homemade tortillas, which is good, rendering the chips crunchier than they'd be otherwise.
Love the churros, which are shorties, delivered warm, three to an order. Drinks are relatively expensive, and include Mexican Coke in a bottle ($2.75). I might gripe about the price, but renting this storefront so close to St. Marks on a major thoroughfare must have required a giant cash outlay. Good luck, Otto's Tacos!
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