New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Chowing down on tacos and tequila with ‘Breaking Bad’ stars

I ate 15 phenomenal tacos with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul at Food Network’s NYC Wine & Food Festival, and here are the top three you need to try.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, best known together for their roles as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White in “Breaking Bad,” made an appearance at the bar for their mezcal Dos Hombres. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Food Network’s Tacos & Tequila event felt like a dream with unlimited tacos, tequila and iconic bartenders for a day. The event, hosted by Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival on Oct. 14, featured 20 remarkable restaurants each with their own special flair. 

The cast of Food Network’s new show The Kitchen — Alex Guarnaschelli, Katie Lee, Jeff Mauro and Geoffrey Zakarian — hosted the event and cheered on spirited attendees. 

A taco tasting would be a taco tragedy with nothing to wash the tacos down. The event included more than just birria and barbacoa — Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul drew in crowds, serving up citrusy cocktails infused with their very own brand of Dos Hombres Mezcal. While I may not be a tequila virtuoso, there’s something about the combination of hard liquor, live trap music and the presence of the stars that brought on a perfectly chaotic evening.

The chaos made my taco tasting all the better. One taco after the other, complete strangers would walk up to me and give me directions to the vendor I should try next. Although I would love to go on about every single one of the 15 tacos I shamelessly ate, here’s my ranking of the top three that were more than just tortillas and meat.

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  • People toughed out the rain in jackets and with umbrellas to enjoy all the food. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

  • People toughed out the rain in jackets and with umbrellas to enjoy all the food and drinks. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

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3. Cantina Rooftop

605 W. 48th St.

For a textbook taco with all of the freshest toppings, look no further than Cantina Rooftop. A hidden gem in Hell’s Kitchen, the vibrant Mexican patio serves the classics like chicken enchiladas and quesadillas, but their selection of tacos beats all. Vegan or not, you can get any kind of protein you want in your taco.

I was handed classic carnitas: a mouthwatering mix of léchon and pork belly topped with salsa habanero, green salsa, onion, lime and cilantro. Even though I’m an avid cilantro hater, I forgot to take out the cilantro beforehand — and yet I was pleasantly surprised by how well it added to the taco’s freshness. The pork and salsas together packed a punch of spice, but the coolness from the generous diced onions and lime wedges cooled my tongue, making for a whirlwind of a taco experience.

A man in a black shirt spooning sauces out of plastic containers to place over a taco in a small container.
Cantina Rooftop (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

2. Han Dynasty

90 Third Ave.

If Han Dynasty sounds familiar, you may be a current or former resident of Third Avenue North, Founders Hall, the Palladium residence hall or Alumni Hall. Located right on Third Avenue, this Sichuan-style Chinese restaurant is a favorite among NYU students because of its three signature flavors: spice, numbness and saltiness. When we think of Sichuan cuisine, chili oil-doused dishes like spicy pork wontons and mapo tofu come to mind, but at Tacos & Tequila, Han Dynasty introduced a wild twist on Sichuan.

Han Dynasty wrapped their taco not with a traditional tortilla, but with a scallion pancake stuffed with piping hot sauteed beef. The scallion pancake had the crunch of a typical taco while still being incredibly savory on its own. As a Chinese woman myself, I wish the vendor could’ve delivered more on the spice and numbness part of its brand by incorporating some chili oil into the mix, as it does with the rest of its menu. Although the taco is not an official menu item, you can walk just a few minutes from your residence hall to Han Dynasty and still enjoy its delectable scallion pancakes.

A woman in a black sweatshirt with a panda on it pouring spices on top of tacos.
Han Dynasty (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)


1. Sofia’s Taqueria

Multiple locations in Staten Island

Sofia’s Taqueria stands out among all the Tacombis and Los Tacos No. 1s in the city — I wish I could’ve discovered it sooner. With several locations on Staten Island, this colorful taco and tequila bar is highly appraised for its guacamole bar of six original flavors: Sofia’s secret, pineapple, fire roasted corn, five alarm, strawberry-cucumber and mango-habanero. The bar’s food has earned it an OpenTable Diners’ Choice award every year from 2019 to 2022.

The first bite into Sofia Taqueria’s Al Pastor pork belly taco was heavenly. Sofia’s wasn’t afraid to go all in on the meat department. Along with the most glorious hunk of glazed pork belly I have ever seen, the taco was piled on with a bean medley and a guajillo and coriander adobo. The oozing juice of the different toppings balanced out the pork belly’s fattiness, culminating in a taco that presented a true culinary masterpiece.

A woman in a blue, orange, and magenta jacket putting together tacos on white plates while wearing black gloves.
Sofia’s Taqueria (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)
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Contact Andrea Lui at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Andrea Lui
Andrea Lui, Dining Editor
Andrea Lui is a sophomore at Stern studying Business with concentrations in Finance and Computing & Data Science and a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. She developed a profound love for writing while performing poetry, prose and dramatic monologues for over 10 years as a competitive public speaker. At NYU, she's also an Admissions Ambassador and serves as the External Relations Co-Director of the Board of Undergraduate Stern Women in Business. Andrea is on a mission to try every single restaurant in New York City … Check out @lui.andrea on Instagram to see if she succeeds.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].

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