Southern Brooklyn

El Jarochito: Taco Carnitas – The Bite


THE BITE:The Bite exposes our magnanimous publisher’s super secret Mexican restaurant, El Jarochito located just outside of Sheepshead Bay’s borders at 195 Neptune Avenue. From the outside, one would expect a standard bodega, but it’s really a different story inside.

As you enter, you pass the typical counter and display cases of beer, which upon closer inspection places you firmly into another country. In the glass case, just below the register you can find freshly butchered meat. There’s not much to choose from but the prices are amazingly low. Keep walking to the back of the store and you pass two more display cases displaying huge cakes, pastries and cookies all completely over the top in garish colors. Continue back and you pass shelves of Mexican grocery items and dried spices until finally, in the belly of the beast, you come across the lunch counter. This is why you’re here; for the authentic Mexican food prepared to order.

For The Bite, I want to focus on the Taco Carnitas, or pork tacos ($2 each). These tacos are a combination of marinated pork, onions and cilantro, served in two small flour tortillas accompanied by a grilled green onion, wedges of fresh lime with a cup of smokey salsa roja on the side.

Wait a minute, where’s the cheese, the lettuce, the tomato? Take a hike gringo. These tacos are the real thing.

The pork for these tacos is available plain or marinated and I chose the marinated meat. The pork is seasoned with cilantro, cumin, garlic and onion when marinated and is usually cooked in lard. Many recipes call for the inclusion of orange slices in the marinade, but if they used it here I couldn’t tell. The precooked meat is then chopped and crisped on the flat top. They then grill the meat with chopped onions and cilantro and pile it high into two flour tortillas which are wrapped in bakery paper and served.

I immediately unwrapped the taco and squeezed some of the fresh lime juice across the meat. I was a little confused by the use of two tortillas for each taco, but when I picked it up for my first bite, I understood. This taco was searingly hot and the extra tortilla acted like buffer between the hot filling and my hands. I loved this taco. It’s simple and straight forward. Some meat, some seasonings, a little acid from the lime all rounded out with the plain flour tortilla. This is street food at its finest.

The salsa roja was a lightly-spiced tomato, onion and pepper mix that would make some fine eating on its own, but was totally unnecessary on the tacos. Kuddos for serving it on the side. The grilled green onion was more than a garnish on the plate. The grilling accentuated the sweetness of the onion. Picking up the onion and eating it whole brought me back to my childhood, reliving the entire Alfalfa and Buckwheat Romeo and Juliette scene.

El Jarochito offers a stunning selection of desayunos, guisados, toastadas, tortas, cemitas, tacos, gringas, quesadillas and burritos that are nothing like their fast food counterparts offered at places like Taco Bell, Chipotle or Chilis. Here the food is good. And it’s cheap. There’s nothing on the menu over $6. It helps if you speak Spanish here, as all of the signs are in Spanish and the English translations on the printed menu leave a lot to be desired. But don’t worry, the staff speaks English and will patiently answer all your questions.

El Jarochito Deli Grocery Corporation, 195 Neptune Avenue, (718) 769-4447

The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

Comment policy


  1. I have driven past this place on numerous occasions, but thought that it was like a bodega – never thought that delicious food hides within.  I’m always looking for a new place to eat.  I’ll have to try it.

  2. A central American friend took me here twice. Each time I pointed out the live roaches crawling in the back by the sit down counter. Not to mention the meat marinating in the open with the “staff” making jokes and shooting their saliva into it. Truly this can take you back to the old country (Mexico).

    Also true the prices are low. I recommend starting with a quarter of the taco and every 3-4 days increase till you can eat one whole taco with the runs. After about 6 weeks your stomach will grow used the various unfamiliar bacteria and you will feel as if you were home. 

  3. Be careful all you ‘bites folk with delicate palettes. You might take the first bite at the counter in the back but your last bite could be at Coney Island Hospital just a few blocks away…Buen apetito!

  4. You visited this place yourself, right? No mentioned of the abominable sanitary conditions. Did you notice how they dress carcass parts in close proximity and sometimes in the immediate proximity of where they prepare your tacos? Have you noticed as roaches periodically make their presence known?

    All the facts need to be presented for your review to be credible. Otherwise my guess is that you were a compensated promoter of this establishment.

  5. You can guess all you want, but it doesn’t make it any more true. Any post for which we are paid are clearly marked – usually in three places (headline, before post, after post) – that it’s paid. Your overly aggressive allegations make me think perhaps you’re a competitor.

    El Jarochito has received A grades on its last two health inspections, and has had relatively few violation points since 2009. And, no, I have never seen a roach in this place.

    Is it spotless, fancy and upscale? Hell no. It’s a counter in the back of a bodega. It’s also a butcher and baker, and the same folks who cook the tacos are responsible for those duties and, like any other restaurant, prepare their meats in the kitchen. It’s an open kitchen, connected to the counter, so yes, it’s in close proximity, but not unusually or dangerously so.

    On my first few visits, I ordered while they were cutting up pig slabs. Some might find it hard to eat in such an environment, but I’ve got a tough stomach and enjoyed the show while I ate. The cook took off the gloves he was wearing while cutting the meat (which was done on a separate counter), washed his hands, and put new gloves on to cook my food.

    Stop smearing local businesses because you’ve got some sort of vendetta. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. But I, Robert and the NYC Health Department all believe this place is sanitary, while you’ve got nothing but nasty, unsubstantiated claims to make.

  6. Ned, thank you for the spirited response. I will boast that my “overly aggressive allegations” and “nasty, unsubstantiated claims” provoked you to add some additional detail which your readers may find helpful.

    I’ll take it on face value that you didn’t get paid for the review or see any roaches while you were there. Regarding the the pig slabs, as I understand there’s not a problem dressing raw meat as long it hygenically segregated from the area where they cook meals, I won’t argue this case because I’m not familiar with the exact rules. What I will say is that when I was there the same person who was cutting up the slabs of meat was making the barbacoa without changing gloves – defeats the purpose of wearing them don’t you think?

    I’m curious – did they know who you were and why you were there? Also you mention that they got an A grade – can you name more than 3 places that got a B? How much faith should we put in the NYC restaurant inspection system?

  7. YUM. And the smell…  oh my goodness. Just tried the pork, the chicken and the beef taco’s.  Not that there was anything wrong with it, but didn’t care that much for the chicken, but the pork…Yum. The beef, best part was the very tasty, crunchy burnt bits.  
    The shop is clean. The people polite and helpful. Service was swift.  The truly only bitch is parking. 

    Each order came with salsa, a seasoned roasted pepper and spring onion. And I can’t wait to have it again.  Hot, juicy, fresh cilantro, fresh, soft tortilla…  
    Thanks Ned for the new favorite!  

  8. You should only eat home. With food that you’ve grown yourself.  Clearly you have no idea what really goes on in restaurant kitchens.   

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