DINING OUT: Say Olé for What A Taco

June 3, 2014 Helen Klein
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Flavorful, home-cooked food that’s easy on the budget is the specialty of What A Taco, which delivers Mexican food “with a Brooklyn twist,” in the words of owner and Bay Ridge native John Tsakinis.

With 25 years as a chef, Tsakinis opened the eatery last October with the goal of offering up fare that’s affordable, family-friendly and fun, while also keeping the spirit of Bay Ridge’s traditional mom-and-pop businesses.

He delivers on all counts. At a recent lunch, I sampled several specialties, which range in price from $1 (for a taco) to $8 for the avocado salad, and there’s also a reasonably priced breakfast menu for earlybirds.

Everything was well-flavored, made in house with fresh ingredients (no canned food is used, stressed Tsakinis). A chicken taco ($1) featured a mound of shredded chicken (cooked for three hours so flavors can blend), topped with salsa verde featuring onions, jalapeños, tomatillos and cilantro. The beef barbacoa taco (also $1) starred shredded spiced beef (cooked for four hours!) spiced with salsa roja, inflected with the smoky goodness of chipotles.

A stuffed burrito (part of an $8 lunch special served daily from 11 am. to 4 p.m., including a drink and a side dish) was crammed with rich chili, black beans, cilantro-lime rice, pico de gallo, guacamole and green goddess sauce. It came with crunchy fresh chips topped with diced veggies.

The Nachos Grande ($3) featured a pile of chips adorned with melted cheese, beans, jalapeños (pickled in house), sour cream and pico de gallo.

The Burrito Platter ($7.50) is, in effect, a deconstructed burrito –an elegant arrangement of the meat of your choice, shredded cheese, black beans, shredded lettuce, rice and diced veggies, with a generous container of salsa, definitely value for the money.

And, that’s Tsakinis’ goal. “I want to make food that’s inexpensive but good, clean, fresh and cooked every day,” he said. “I want to give value, see volume and see people happy.”


8612 Fourth Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11209

718-745-8226 or 8227

Order by phone or on seamless.com or grubhub.com

Free delivery to Shore Road, 65th Street and 11th Avenue

Monday-Thursday: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Friday: 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Saturday: 9 a.m.-11 p.m.

Sunday: 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

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