Nostrand Avenue in Crown Heights seems poised to become Brooklyn’s next gentrification hotspot, with hip new places like Two Saints and Colina Cuervo recently opening alongside the many longstanding Caribbean eateries lining this busy boulevard. Nothing against those newcomers, but with so many super-trendy spots already crowding Crown Heights, it would also be nice to see more new restaurants that are decidedly affordable, totally non-pretentious, and definitely delicious.
Enter Taqueria Milear, which opened on Nostrand this spring. This narrow, family-owned spot is pint-sized (there’s just a small counter and 12 seats), but it stands out for serving authentic Mexican cuisine that’s a step above most neighborhood taquerias, without being a step up in price. Delectable homemade tortillas–warm, thick slabs of cornmeal that will bear the weight of any saucy taco–are one of the main reasons Taqueria Milear is worth traveling for. Even super-sloppy tacos, like picadillo, beef stew with carrots, onions and peas, won’t make these bad boys fall apart. There are also more familiar taco options like chorizo and al pastor (spicy marinated pork with pineapple), and all are topped with onions, cilantro and cactus. An important note: For some reason, they don’t automatically serve everything with their homemade tortillas, but reserve them for those in the know. You have to request the homemade ones, and they’re a well-worth-it 50 cents extra.
The tortillas also make for perfect quesadillas with fillings that include zucchini flower and chicharron prensado (crispy pork cracklings), while a thicker version shows up as the base for sopes layered with beans, avocado and Oaxacan cheese. The brunch menu (served every day until 2pm), includes tamales and huevos rancheros. There are also more intense main dishes like pork ribs in salsa verde, as well as thirst-quenching fresh watermelon juice that has got to be as refreshing as it possibly gets in this oppressive heat. Tart, very lime-y guacamole is served with warm, freshly-fried tortilla chips.
Almost everything on the menu hovers in the sub-$9 range, topping out at $13.95 for the heavy mains. For my money I’d say that this is clearly the best value at any new restaurant that’s opened in the neighborhood this year.752A Nostrand Avenue (between Sterling Place and Park Place); 718-484-8005; taqueriamilear.com