On an Ever-Changing Strip of Real Estate, the Nachos at Taqueria Diana Have Staying Power
No street seems shift as constantly at St. Marks Place in the East Village. If you keep up with the revolving door of real estate that is the stretch between Cooper Square and Avenue A, you seen the evolution of ramen shops, slice joints, and automats. If you don't stroll down the street for a few weeks, you may be dumbfounded when you find that your favorite bahn mi place has been replaced by a frozen yogurt emporium, or that the okonomi hot dog you were aiming to try left for warmer waters uptown.
One of the newer spots to open in this radius is Taqueria Diana (129 Second Avenue, 646-422-7871), a slim kitchen with a couple of stools in back and an abbreviated menu that lends well to Seamless ordering. You'll find floppy quesadillas griddled to order ($8.25-9.50), burritos ($6.75-8.50), and compulsory tacos ($3-3.50), all of which can be enlivened by the squeeze bottles of housemade hot sauces.
You may wince at the $12 sticker price for a plate of nachos with guacamole. Don't. What emerges from the kitchen ten minutes after you order is a platter of food larger and heavier than a phone book, spread out on a sheet tray as carefully as a Las Vegas poker dealer turns out a deck of cards. The chips are made from La China Poblanita tortillas, sliced into triangles and deep-fried to goldenrod; they crunch with a decibel louder than the pop rock playing overhead. Dotted with shreds of well-seasoned carnitas, whole pinto beans, sour cream, escabeche, melted cheese, and a rough mash of guacamole, it's a flawless assemblage of texture, heat, and richness, punctuated by the briny tang of pickled jalapeños. Just try and make a dent.
Let's hope Taqueria Diana sticks it out for the long haul.
Scarlett Lindeman is a Brooklyn-based writer, covering the city's best taquerias, fondas, and cantinas. She writes the ¡Oye! Comida column for Fork in the Road.