Otto Cedeno

Otto’s Tacos has been open for four weeks… and I have been wanting to go there for… well… four weeks. This weekend I had the opportunity to meet with owner, Otto Cedeno, and Chef, Joe LoNigro, and I had quite the feast.

My Takeaways

  • Passion for tacos- Formerly employed at a LA tech start-up, Otto ditched the LA start-up scene to tackle the restaurant industry in NYC. He was inspired to create a taco shop out of his love for mexican food and his disappointment in NYC mexican dining. Otto and Joe focus on simplicity. That’s why their menu is so gluten-friendly. They believe there is no need to add artificial ingredients to all natural foods, and I fully support this belief.
  • On being nobread friendly- The tortillas at Otto’s Tacos are 100% gluten free, as are most of the items on the menu. They are 99% corn with a touch of rice flour. The tortillas and salsas are handmade and fresh daily. Cheese and toppings found at competitors are NOT offered at Otto’s because Otto believes that the best tacos should be simple. When my friend who accompanied me to lunch was skeptical that there wouldn’t be any cheese or heavy toppings, Otto commented that her reaction was typical but from his experience not a single customer has felt this way after eating one of their tacos. He proved his point correct! The tacos were delicious and perfect as is. 
  • Kitchen Practices- Otto’s has an internal fact sheet which explains the ingredients used in all dishes and explains the components of each dish. All employees are trained using this guide, and are well aware of different allergens in each dish. When the staff overheard me say I am dairy free, several staff members were quick to point out what else I should avoid. (Thankfully it was just a sauce or two and a drink).

In talking to Otto and Joe, you can tell HOW passionate they are about providing the East Village and greater NYC area with QUALITY food. Careful thought and consideration is put into every dish, resulting in delicious tacos and Mexican food. My favorite part about my conversation with Otto was hearing his journey into the restaurant world. It was inspiring and encouraging, and shows that with hard work and a will to follow your passion, far-off visions can become realities. Good luck, Otto’s Tacos!

Scrambled Eggs with Bacon notoast at The Smile

Chef Melia Marden

At The Smile, Chef Melia Marden highlights that they “always try to have a variety of options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free customers” and their takeout restaurant Smile To Go (http://www.smiletogonyc.com/) also has a lot of gluten free items including delicious fresh baked pastries every day.

“Right now our gluten free pastries (both at Smile and Smile to Go) are: peanut butter and jelly cookie (also vegan and delicious in my opinion and I’m not vegan or gluten free), banana quinoa muffin (also refined sugar free and dairy free another one of my favorites).Our pastry chef is always working on new pastries so expect more to come.”