Cheap Eats: Great Tacos, But More Than I Wanted To Pay

“Cheap Eats” is my post-series on cheap restaurants and prepared food options in New York. I recommend cooking your own food most of the time, but every once in a while it is nice to indulge and you don’t have to pay through the nose to do so. I plan to review many of the cheap options I find on various websites and will let you know if they are as good and as cheap as advertised. If you have a suggestion for a place to review, feel free to let me know through my contact page.

I have been busy scouring the Internet and coming up with a long list of “cheap eats” to try. There are a LOT of options out there, so lucky for you, this series will turn into a pretty extensive list. Next up on the list:

Dos Toros – 11 Carmine St (map) and 137 4th Ave (map)

Sorry for the image quality. It was cold and I had to take it quick before my fingers froze off!
Sorry for the image quality. It was cold and I had to take it quick before my fingers froze off!

I walked in the door, thankful to be out of the BITTER cold we experienced at the beginning of January. I had read about a great $3.50 taco deal that was delicious, so I sauntered up the the counter to place a taco order.

Plenty of amazing fillings and sauce on this puppy!
Plenty of amazing fillings and sauce on this puppy!

The Cheap Eats Breakdown

How was the ordering experience? Great! Similar to Chipotle or Subway, you make your way down a line of ingredients and indicate what you want on your taco. In typical Mr. NYBudget fashion, I asked for the hottest sauce they had. The woman who was helping me looked concerned and said “our hot sauce is extremely hot – why don’t you try it first” and with that, she picked out a pepper and placed some of the hot sauce on it. She was right, this wasn’t Chipotle’s version of hot. This BURNED. I loved it.

How unique is the food? One of the great things about living in NYC is that your cheap eats don’t have to be mundane. Tacos are not the most exotic food in the world, but these ones definitely had fresh and interesting ingredients. This certainly wasn’t just an order from Taco Bell! I’d say this was middle-of-the-road for uniqueness.

How delicious was the food? Very! I am a sucker for Mexican food, so I may be biased, but this was definitely tastier than many of the tacos I have tried in the city (I have a few favorite taco places that still far outshine Dos Toros, though).

Did it fill me up for $5 or less? Not even close. $3.50 got me one vegetarian taco. Not an order of tacos. Just one. Sure, in NYC, this is still inexpensive, but I am looking for TRULY cheap eats here.

Conclusion: The food was very good and the people behind the counter were friendly and helpful, but if I have to drop $10-$15 per meal, I would rather call it a special occasion and go to my absolute favorite Mexican restaurant, Tulcingo Del Valle for the same price. That said, if you find yourself in the West Village and want to treat yourself to some pretty tasty tacos, Dos Toros is a pretty damn good option.

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25 thoughts on “Cheap Eats: Great Tacos, But More Than I Wanted To Pay

  1. Danny January 17, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Aw man…too bad! Unfortunately, this place does sound pretty cheap for the area in my experiences. I wish I knew of a Mexican place that was cheaper, and equally delicious, around the area. You would think since this area mainly caters to NYUer’s/20-somethings that places such as this one would cater to their budgets (or lack of…haha!). Sadly, it just doesn’t seem that way, and is usually the reason I don’t eat in the West Village too often (when I go out that is). On a positive note, I will check out Tulcingo Del Valle on your recommendation when I’m in Hell’s Kitchen 🙂

    • Mr NYBudget January 17, 2014 at 10:30 am

      I highly recommend Tulcingo. But yeah, I am still working on finding a great super cheap taco place somewhere in Manhattan. I am hoping that super cheap eats isn’t only relegated to Chinatown!

      • Danny January 17, 2014 at 10:49 am

        Cool…sounds good…will need to check it out when I’m in the area. Doesn’t St. Marks have a taco place(s)? Usually find good deals/eats on that street (but more on the sushi/pizza side of things). Otherwise, the Riverdale area is always go to place for anything (tacos included…if you’re willing to take a ride up on the 1 that is hehe).

  2. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life January 18, 2014 at 9:54 am

    You have to spend a surprising amount of money to make a meal out of tacos. They’re just too small to fill you up with one. My absolute favorite veggie taco is at Taqueria Diana (2nd ave and between 7th st and st marks). They have a poblano taco that is to die for and apparently their meat tacos are just as good. They also have the most incredible homemade salsa that you can add on or take to go in the back.
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    • Mr NYBudget January 18, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Agreed – they trick you with those cheap prices, but you have to get 3 or 4 of them!

      Nevertheless, I LOVE tacos – I will definitely check out Taqueria Diana. I have already tried Otto’s Tacos (a bunch of my friends actually know Otto, so they end up there a lot).

  3. Broke Millennial January 20, 2014 at 11:15 am

    I am normally not a fan of Mexican food, but it’s especially bad in New York. I find the price point for most Mexican joints here absolutely abhorrent. I went to one place who charged $14 for a chicken and cheese quesadilla. SERIOUSLY?!

    For a cheap eat, check out 100 Montaditos. Granted, I went during a special when everything was $1, but their regular menu still seemed pretty cost-effective. And I’m sure you’re familiar with Vanessa’s Dumplings. Also a great find.

    Looking forward to more of this serious. I love finding a good cheap eat.
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    • Mr NYBudget January 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

      There is definitely a ton of overpriced Mexican food around. I will definitely check out 100 Montaditos – sounds great! Vanessa’s Dumplings is also great. I tend to go to Prosperity Dumpling more, but in my mind, they are pretty much the same thing (even their websites look similar, so I am guessing they are owned by the same person?)


  4. Leslie Beslie January 21, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I knew this would be about Dos Toros! It’s good Mexican… for NY. Which isn’t saying much. It definitely is too expensive for what it is. The best/pricey Mexican I’ve had was Chavella’s in Crown Heights. The best/cheapest Mexican I’ve had here was in South Slope.
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    • Mr NYBudget January 21, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I’ll have to check out Chavella’s. I will say, I am an absolute Tulcingo Del Valle NUT (Hell’s Kitchen) and I recommend everyone go there, even though it doesn’t meet my “full for under $5” requirement.

  5. Mel @ brokeGIRLrich January 21, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Cachapas y Mas on Dyckman Street is also good and reasonably priced. I think a large burrito was about $5.50. Empanadas were $1.50 (they’re ok, but they’re definitely not a reason in and of themselves to go there).
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    • Mr NYBudget January 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

      $5.50 for a large burrito could work! I’ll check it out!

  6. Holly@ClubThrifty January 22, 2014 at 7:56 am

    $3.50 sounds pretty good for a veggie taco! Yum!
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    • Mr NYBudget January 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Not bad for Manhattan, but I am looking to build a list of places that will fill you up for $5 or less! We’ll see how far I get!

  7. Grayson @ Debt Roundup January 22, 2014 at 11:07 am

    We actually have a great food truck here that makes awesome tacos. They give you three and it costs about $7 for the meal. I love them and will continue to get them.
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    • Mr NYBudget January 22, 2014 at 11:10 am

      Very cool! Where do you live?

  8. Elroy January 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

    You should do a food truck series. When I’m in NYC, I love chasing food trucks!

    • Mr NYBudget January 23, 2014 at 11:14 am

      I used to eat at food trucks all the time. The upside is that they usually have interesting food and new ones are always popping up and coming to your neighborhood. The biggest issue I have found though is the price. They seem like they should be inexpensive, but in NYC, it’s easy to pay $10-$15 for lunch from one of these trucks. This is definitely within my budget, but I will always view this as a “treat” and not my everyday work lunch option.

      There are some super tasty ones though!

  9. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply January 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

    For cheap eats for Tacos, I don’t know of any specific places, but I’d rather go to a mom and pop authentic Mexican place for tacos. I’ve been to a few “trendy” type tacos where they are much more expensive, but they do have different tacos that the authentic places won’t have. Go to Jackson Heights for some real authentic tacos for cheap!
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    • Mr NYBudget January 23, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Looks like we were commenting on each other’s posts at the same time! I used to live near Jackson Heights and never took advantage of the amazing cheap food there. I will have to go back soon!

  10. Justin @ Root of Good February 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Looks good but about twice the going rate everywhere else in the US! 😉

    I think the fancy tacos at Rick Bayless’s Frontera Fresco (in Chicago, not sure if they have a chain in NYC) are about this price. And about the same size. 2-3 is a good fill up your belly serving.

    • Mr NYBudget February 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      Yup – I definitely mark this as a fail overall on the Cheap Eats scale. Oh well – on to the next one!

  11. Virginia February 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I agree — very tough to find decent Mexican food in New York. Check out Tacos El Bronco in Sunset Park. So good! Anything with the green sauce is delicious. I haven’t tried the tacos, but that could fit in the under $5 budget, I think. Just visited their website, and they have a food truck too. Yummm

    • Mr NYBudget February 25, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for the tip Virginia! I’ll have to check that out!

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