by Charlie Finnerty
Burgers Tacos Wings & Seafood restaurant at 110-46 Merrick Blvd was named Queens’ Best Taco by Queens Chamber of Commerce after a vote by Queens residents. Chamber President Tom Grech and State Senator Leroy Comrie presented the award to co-owners Madeline Wilson and Philip Armstrong at the restaurant Nov. 2.
“We knew we had awesome tacos, but now everyone’s going to know,” Wilson said.
Armstrong said the award offers a boost in morale after the difficulties of managing a small business during the pandemic.
“To be totally honest, this is a surreal moment. After COVID, small businesses have been having a hard time,” Armstrong said. “We’re here everyday putting in the work. There’s still more work to do but stuff like this makes us know we’re on the right path.”
Wilson and Armstrong operated the restaurant as a “ghost kitchen” during COVID, providing meals exclusively for delivery before moving to their current dine-in location in January of 2021. Armstrong said business has fluctuated throughout that time.
Cristal Rodriguez is the head cook at Burgers Tacos Wings & Seafood. Rodriguez, originally from North Carolina, said her southern heritage inspires her cooking.
“It’s an opportunity to bring a little soul and southern love to the city,” Rodriguez said.
On her tacos winning the borough award, Rodriguez said the credit goes out to everyone at the restaurant.
“It means the world,” Rodriguez said. “I’m honored and I’m humbled. I’m just a small vessel, it starts with [Armstrong and Wilson]. I’m just their secret behind the doors.”
Rodriguez said the smaller operation at Burgers Tacos Wings & Seafood creates a bond among the staff.
“I really love the environment. It’s a homely environment,” Rodriguez said. “I love that we’re small because we’re able to pay more attention to the needs of the people. Not only that, but we’re also able to put our minds together as one.”
The best taco award is part of a series of “Best Of” titles that the Queens’ Chamber is awarding to restaurants across the borough. Other awards include best barbecue, best pizza and empanadas. Grech said the taco award was especially competitive because so many different cuisines have embraced tacos and added their own flair.