There used to be a serious lack of Austin-style breakfast tacos in New York. Thankfully, Jalapa Jar—the beloved salsa slingers and ex-Texans who have found their niche at places like Smorgasburg—has opened up their first brick-and-mortar store to fill that void. Located in arcade of the Clark Street subway station, perfectly positioned for morning commuters (but hopefully not for rats, as Seth Meyers joked). Jalapa Jar offers a surprisingly extensive menu for such a small outfit. There are four different Jalapa salsa-scrambled eggs-based breakfast tacos (including two vegetarian options) with cheeky, Brooklyn-related names, but you’re also encouraged to make your own. In addition to the breakfast tacos, they offer endlessly customizable taco bowls, the requisite chips and salsa, guacamole, or Texas queso, a chickpea and spinach salad, Borough Pie (a riff on a Frito pie), and Sweet Stix, spicy, sweet mashed plantains deep-fried in a tortilla. Jalapa Jar also brought in Summer Moon, Austin-based coffee purveyors, for their hot and cold brew.
With the breakfast tacos calling my name, this morning I journeyed to the Clark Street kiosk to check out the goods. I arrived around 8:45 a.m. and was able to stroll up to the counter to order with no wait to speak of. After some internal debate, I settled on the the Dirty 6th—a chorizo, scrambled eggs, and refried bean combo—and the Greenpoint Veggie—with avocado, scrambled eggs, and refried black beans. Both were topped with cilantro, cheese, and jalapenos, wrapped in flour tortillas, and served with a side of salsa (I went for medium). They were out of cold brew—”Literally our first day! Sorry about that,” the nice guy at the counter shrugged—but I was happy to grab a hot coffee.
Due to its location, Jalapa is set up for takeout only. But on a nice morning, this isn’t a problem at all. I walked to a nearby church and ate my breakfast tacos in their Peace Garden—as fitting a location as any. The Dirty 6th was delicious—spicy and smoky, with a good combination of textures. The Greenpoint Veggie wasn’t bad at all—they were thankfully generous with the avocado—but to my taste, it could have used a little more texture variation and a pinch more salt. At $7 for two tacos (and $4 for one), this isn’t the very cheapest way to start your day, but it could be much worse. Plus, the tacos do fill you up—everything’s bigger even out of Texas, it turns out.
Jalapa Jar is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Clark Street arcade. (They’ll still spend weekends at Smorgasburg.) And as long as a Taco Rat doesn’t become the next Pizza Rat, these breakfast tacos are one of the more delicious things to ever come out of a subway station.