Lend Me an Oreja: The Search for Ears is On



It was just about two years ago that I learned to love pig’s ears, and I owe the revelation to East 116th Street. There are dozens of taco spots in the area, and each seems to have a specialty. (For instance, Michelle Deli and Grocery, at 215 East 116th street, has the best tongue I’ve ever eaten.) For me, ears don’t get better than at Taco Mix.

This narrow spot has recently acquired a flashy sign and awning, just the sort of cosmetic effort that could put off the chowhound type, who might avoid a place that looks like it could attract outsiders. But the magical cauldron behind the counter still bubbles away, and that’s all that matters. When you order oreja tacos ($2 each), a cook plucks an ear or two from this all-day stew and chops it up with a cleaver. (It is unconfirmed what else is in there. Perhaps some tripe.)

I know to many of you, this does not look or sound at all appealing, but you’re missing out. The ears have been braised to tender, porky perfection. Depending on the time of day, there is hardly any bite to the cartilage (the later, the softer). When you’re done, your fingertips and lips will be pleasantly sticky.

Today I embark on a search for more ears. Not just in tacos but in all their glorious forms. With your help, you sickos out there, we can share the city’s best, so email your favorites. And remember to always keep an ear to the ground. (I am so sorry about that.)

Taco Mix
236 East 116th
between Lex and Third