This summer El Diablito, Taqueria Diana, Sembrado en Nueva York, and Tacos Morelos have opened in the East Village. If all goes according to plan, Otto’s Tacos will enter that suddenly burgeoning taco landscape by mid-September.
The restaurant at 141 Second Avenue is the first for Los Angeles native Otto Cedeno, previously Director of Production and Operations for Livestream.com. “I’ve had frustration with the Mexican food in the city,” says Cedeno, who’s lived off and on in New York City for the past eight years. “I always joked that one day I’d do something about it. I guess that joke is now a reality.”
Cedeno tells us that Otto’s Tacos will be inspired by the simplicity of Mexican street tacos in his hometown. “A lot of Mexican food gets drowned in sour cream, cheese and guac,” he says. “We’re going to focus on meat, cilantro, onions and salsa. I want each component to be so flavorful that you could eat them separately.”
Since acquiring the space, which formerly housed a Subway and the short-lived Good Guys Famous Burgers, Cedeno has gutted the interior and gotten the building up to code. Like the menu and the food, Otto’s Tacos’ decor, which Cedeno describes as “rustic yet modern,” will be similarly simplistic — “no Mexican flags or chiles on the walls,” he says. “We want the food to speak first.”