This post begins with a far better post from beloved neighborhood bloggers We Heart Astoria. It’s an epic tale of two talented Astoria writers, Tina Corrado and Anne Noyes Saini, who spent last summer in search of the finest tacos and Mexican fare that Astoria has to offer. To do this, they carefully compiled their own lists of restaurants, shops and street vendors, while also soliciting suggestions from their wide network of food-obsessed Astorians. One of those Astorians was none other that We Heart Astoria’s own Meg Cotner. Meg remembered a tip from the owner of neighborhood Italian favorite and porcine paradise, Il Bambino, about an unassuming convenience store called La Cabana on 30th Avenue that made outstanding tacos. That is how many people were involved in introducing La Cabana into my life, and how, at long last, I finally found my favorite tacos in Astoria.
When it comes to trying out tacos at a new place, the Al Pastor is my litmus test. Most of the taco purveyors in Astoria have an Al Pastor on their menus, but La Cabana’s is my favorite, with juicy well-marinated pork, onion, cilantro, and just a bit of pineapple for sweetness. They also make a delicious Taco de Carnitas with a heaping helping of tender beef strips, thinly sliced. My favorite taco, however, is their Taco de Queso. A generous slab of Queso blanco, heated up on the griddle until it starts to brown, is paired with La Cabana’s delicious and spicy salsa verde, a squeeze of lime, onion and cilantro. It is one of the few cheese tacos I have spotted on menus around Astoria, and one of the very few exceptional vegetarian tacos that I have tried in the neighborhood. La Cabana uses a double tortilla for all their tacos, which makes them easier to handle and allows for more generous portions. Their smooth, opaque, and wonderfully hot salsa verde is an excellent accompaniment to any of their tacos.
La Cabana also makes a few types of tamale, and one of them, the Tamale de Mole, with tender chunks of dark meat chicken, is really outstanding. It is not spicy on its own, but hit it with your preferred dosage of salsa verde to customize it to your taste. There is a hot food bar and a tortas menu which both look great, though I am yet to explore their offerings. Finally, La Cabana is also a fully stocked convenience store vending the typical necessities as well as some products that are less commonly found in Astoria: a wall of Mexican spices, dried chilies and beans, racks of imported sweets and Mexican pastries, and bottled, branded horchata.
Astorians know good food. In part it’s because we are exposed to so much of it, and in part it’s because of the vast knowledge about different cuisines that every one of us in this great, diverse neighborhood holds. It has been a joy to be a part of this conversation, and I would invite any and all of you to join in. Interact with your favorite Astoria restaurants on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and even Instagram if they have an account. Follow your favorite local blogs and writers – I have a Queens reading list you might like to start with here. Introduce your friends and family to the great food and businesses you love here in Astoria. Share what you know about food with others, get suggestions from your neighbors, and talk to people face to face about where to eat.
Before long you’ll find your favorite taco, your favorite Greek fries, your favorite burek, your favorite slice, and I could go on, but I’m getting hungry, Astoria.
La Cabana – 3318 30th Avenue, Astoria NY