Please don’t treat this as some sort of “bizarre foods” gross-out post. The “head” in tacos de cabeza doesn’t stare back at you or anything like that. It’s nothing more than shreds of meat painstakingly removed from the head of a roasted animal, then steamed to melting tenderness.
Nothing more, but also nothing less; while I normally go for strong flavors and crunch and char, I’ve come to appreciate the unadorned, unctuous meatiness of cabeza. It’s my go-to order from the Tacos El Bronco truck stationed on Fifth Av between 37th and 38th streets, across from the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in Sunset Park. Taking advantage of a thaw in the weather and (mostly) clear sidewalks, that’s where I went for lunch today.
You can find an annotated illustration of my lunch below.
A. The fat, charred green onion is a grace note that Tacos El Bronco adds to all their tacos. I eat it separately, and could honestly do without it, but appreciate the gesture.
B. The lemons were a surprise – where were the usual limes?! I was disappointed at first, then remembered the stunning increase in the price of limes over this past month. A bit of research confirmed that this is not a hiccup, as I thought the last time I stocked up at the fruit and vegetable place, but the result of a drought-damaged harvest. My surmise is that Tacos El Bronco has switched to lemons to avoid increasing the price of their tacos. Good on them for looking out for their working-class customers! I do miss the limes. though.
C. The cucumber slices are another grace note. Between them and the cilantro, you are actually eating a healthy salad.
D. Delicious cabeza meat lurks beneath the garnishes.
(Not pictured: choice of smokey red chile salsa or creamy, avocado-thickened green salsa.)