Laura Lucero had her first job in the restaurant business when she was just 10 years old. In a bustling mercado somewhere in Mexico City, she would bring cold bottles of soda to the customers in her father’s taqueria, and watch her mother as she skillfully prepared carnitas and flautas. She also remembers vacationing in Puebla with her family, where makeshift kitchens were set up outside, and sitting in front of an open fire as her grandmother cooked handmade tortillas.
The memories and flavors of Lucero’s childhood permeate the food and the atmosphere at Taco El Chingón, a new authentic Mexican street food spot in Bellmore. The Freeport resident opened the restaurant in Bellmore Plaza 10 months ago, offering “something different” among the community’s bagel stores and pizzerias.
“People say the Mexican food in the area is more like Tex-Mex, and we are more authentic,” she said. “I want to give them the opportunity to taste something that’s from my grandmom, my mother and my father,” Lucero said. She added that “el chignon” refers to something that is cool or awesome, and describes someone as “the best in whatever [they] are doing.”
Some of the menu items at Taco El Chingón come from Lucero’s mother’s recipe book, including the huarache especial, a handmade corn tortilla piled high with refried beans, queso fresco, green sauce, onions, avocado, cilantro and a choice of meat. Mama Lucero’s flautas, or rolled crispy tacos, are also featured. The savory snacks are stuffed with either shredded chicken or potatoes and chorizo, and topped with lettuce, Mexican crema and queso fresco.
Something customers “really love,” Lucero said, is the restaurant’s variety of salsas, which are all prepared in house. Diners can choose from six different salsas, including guacamole salsa, salsa verde, raw tomatillo salsa, a corn and tomato pico de gallo devoid of cilantro, a creamy chipotle salsa and a chile de árbol made with habanero peppers.
Lucero said she’s grateful for Taco El Chingón’s customers, all of whom have helped bring in new clientele. “It’s a really nice neighborhood, and to see their faces when they eat our food makes me really happy,” she said. “They’re getting a taste of home.”
Taco El Chingón is at 2809 Merrick Road, and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant offers dine-in, takeout and delivery options, and can be reached at (516) 809-9102.