Mexican Food in NYC

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hhawk
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2004/11/12 14:33:59 (permalink)

Mexican Food in NYC

Of course there are lots of Mexican Restaurants in NYC most of them not worth visiting as they do some variation on Cali-Mex, or Tex-Mex and so forth. And there are so many regions of Mexico each with great food that its worth trying the authentic stuff.

In NYC, in BROOKLYN, in the Red Hook area (an area continously inhabited since 1636) is a large public recreation area. On Sundays from roughly Easter to early Oct. many Latin American gather here (along with others) to play soccer. Lining the park/sports fields are many vendors from many parts of South and Central America.

Just let you nose be your guide and dont' worry most of the operators speak English very well; although some or most of the "staff" don't. Your in for a real treat from "street corn" with cheese and chili to fresh coconut with Lime Juice and Chili you can get it all there!

Another great Mexican treat in Brooklyn is on the corner of 5th Ave and 46th street on the South East side, a small red booth about the size of a double phone booth that serves spicy Tamales and other treats from Oaxaca.
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    BT
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/13 02:37:22 (permalink)
    What's "Cali-Mex"? Just wondering what you mean. I have found, in SF for instance, that very many of the "Mexican" places are owned and run by folks from Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatamala) so the food IS different than true Mexican (I find some of it blander). On the other hand, there is the one slightly infamous local invention--the "Mission-style" burrito--which is very tasty (and cheap) in its native habitat and often gets badly done elsewhere, and is admittedly not actually Mexican. But still, I'm not sure what a New Yorker considers "Cali-Mex"?
    #2
    hhawk
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/13 10:10:05 (permalink)
    For me, Cali mex is using ingredients and techniques from modern American / California cuisine in creating Mexican style dishes. Different types of Fish Tacos make a good example or a Taco with a vegetarian chili filling. An other might be a Tamale that’s made with a lot of rich butter, heavy cream, and truffles.
    #3
    BT
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/13 11:37:50 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by hhawk

    For me, Cali mex is using ingredients and techniques from modern American / California cuisine in creating Mexican style dishes. Different types of Fish Tacos make a good example or a Taco with a vegetarian chili filling. An other might be a Tamale that’s made with a lot of rich butter, heavy cream, and truffles.


    Fish tacos are, supposedly, imported from Baha California--not an invention in El Norte--at least that's what the places that serve them claim.

    Believe me, in the last 20 years I've almost never seen "rich butter, heavy cream" used in ANY restaurant in CA (maybe a few ancient "French" places and, of course, your French and Italian bakeries). And truffles in "Mexican" food? Never seen that either. There ARE indeed some "nuevo" Mexican joints that pride themselves on Californicating the food--lots of "unrefried" black beans or maybe that infamous vegetarian taco filling--but truffles? Personally, my favorite Mexican place in SF IS my favorite because it uses lard (as they would in Mexico), though lacking butter or cream (except, of course, "crema" or creme fraiche), lots of puerco and is about as far from "low cal" as it comes.
    #4
    kozel
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/14 16:22:01 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by hhawk


    In NYC, in BROOKLYN, in the Red Hook area (an area continously inhabited since 1636) is a large public recreation area. On Sundays from roughly Easter to early Oct. many Latin American gather here (along with others) to play soccer. Lining the park/sports fields are many vendors from many parts of South and Central America.

    Just let you nose be your guide and dont' worry most of the operators speak English very well; although some or most of the "staff" don't. Your in for a real treat from "street corn" with cheese and chili to fresh coconut with Lime Juice and Chili you can get it all there!


    For more info on Red Hook, there was a thread on it at eGullet with pictures. Here's the link

    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=47802&hl=red+hook
    #5
    bubbaboy
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/17 14:44:09 (permalink)
    Has anyone here ever tried a Mexican take out place in NYC called San Loco?...there are three locations i believe...i heard they were good.

    JD
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    BaconBits
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/17 15:37:56 (permalink)
    I just tried a Mexican joint near my apartment the other night for the first time. It's been there for least 5 years. Its very small and looks totally dingy - which is why it's taken me 5 years to try it out, but lately it's been so super crowded. So I finally ordered in from them. Other than the fact that they delivered the wrong food to me - it was still quite tasty. It's called The Enchilada, and it's on 12th street b/n 5th ave and University Place.

    I don't know Mexican food well enough to say it was the best mexican, blah, blah, blah. But I thought it was very good, not to mention quite cheap. Now if they just learned how to deliver the right food...
    #7
    mttbrn
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/17 16:16:03 (permalink)
    San Loco is pretty awful bubbaboy. I'd recomend it to folks for whom Taco Bell is too authentic tasting. I'm not saying I haven't eaten there my share of times (generally after too many beers) but I'd hardly recomend it.

    For my money the best Mexican food in NYC is at Festival on Rivington St. but there's just no way NYC can rival my home state of California in this dept.
    #8
    hhawk
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/17 17:33:03 (permalink)
    I ate a few times at San Loco years ago near St. Marks Place and 2nd Ave. The food was very low prices and the Salsas spicy but i don't remember enough to say how authentic the salsas are/were. The Tacos, etc. were in the middle of the road.
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    bubbaboy
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/11/18 08:16:20 (permalink)
    Thanks MTT and Hawk...it's hike for me to get there from 96th street so i guess i'll wait until i'm in the neighborhood.


    JD
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    hooemi
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/12/14 16:27:37 (permalink)
    I think that one important thing to note when discussing Mexican food is the difference between "street" food (basics like tacos, burritos, tortas) and the "gourmet" foods (like cochinita pilbil, sopitos con queso de cabra). The difference is similar to that between burger joints and upscale restaurants here in the US. I've spent some time in Mexico and along the border in New Mexico and Texas, and I've found NYC has a couple of really good upscale places where you can get "gourmet" Mexican (e.g. Mi Cocina on the corner of Hudson Street and Jane Street). Unfortunately for most Manhattanites, you have to go out of your way for good authentic Mexican "street" food.

    Hhawk had the right idea for "street" Mexican- find immigrant communities and eat where the locals go. For example, I love a place called Mexico 2000 in Williamsburg (Broadway between Keap and Hooper). It's a tiny place with 2 tables and a small kitchenette in the back, and a bodega in the front. While you wait for the cooks to whip up terrific cheap "street" classics, you can shop for an extensive collection of Mexican foods- including all the Mexican varieties of chiles, both fresh and dried. There are places like this in all the Mexican immigrant neighborhoods I've been to (especially Sunset Park and parts of Astoria) and it seems like these bodega/taquerias are where most Mexicans in NYC go for their fix of home cooking.
    #11
    hooemi
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/12/14 16:36:49 (permalink)
    I forgot to mention one thing: San Loco and similar places like Benny's Burritos are to Mexican food what Domino's and Pizza Hut is to Italian. They might not be bad in and of themselves (although I don't like them), but they aren't the real deal.
    #12
    EdSails
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/12/14 19:58:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    quote:
    Originally posted by hhawk

    For me, Cali mex is using ingredients and techniques from modern American / California cuisine in creating Mexican style dishes. Different types of Fish Tacos make a good example or a Taco with a vegetarian chili filling. An other might be a Tamale that’s made with a lot of rich butter, heavy cream, and truffles.


    Fish tacos are, supposedly, imported from Baha California--not an invention in El Norte--at least that's what the places that serve them claim.

    Believe me, in the last 20 years I've almost never seen "rich butter, heavy cream" used in ANY restaurant in CA (maybe a few ancient "French" places and, of course, your French and Italian bakeries). And truffles in "Mexican" food? Never seen that either. There ARE indeed some "nuevo" Mexican joints that pride themselves on Californicating the food--lots of "unrefried" black beans or maybe that infamous vegetarian taco filling--but truffles? Personally, my favorite Mexican place in SF IS my favorite because it uses lard (as they would in Mexico), though lacking butter or cream (except, of course, "crema" or creme fraiche), lots of puerco and is about as far from "low cal" as it comes.


    I have heard huitlacoche referred to several times as a "Mexican truffle" because of it similarity and seasonality. You are right though-----there is a big difference between the authentic Mexican places (which generally are very easy for a Roadfooder to find in CA) and the ersatz Cali-Mex type of cooking. For the most part, I've never seen Cali-Mex in an authentic setting---it seems mainly either a chain type invention or something in a place with a chef who went to the CIA and is just looking to design his own "Mexican style" creations.

    BTW, BT------could you describe the "Mission-style" burrito that you've talked about before. I'm curious what the difference is between that and the burritos I'm used to.
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    BT
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2004/12/14 23:08:12 (permalink)
    quote:


    BTW, BT------could you describe the "Mission-style" burrito that you've talked about before. I'm curious what the difference is between that and the burritos I'm used to.


    Well, they've been talked about a lot here so I assumed we all knew what they were. maybe not.

    All over San Francisco, but concentrated in the Mission District, are tacquerias selling burritos made with very large (maybe 18" diameter) flour tortillas which are warmed (almost always with steam), then filled with your choice of goodies including a variety of meats (typically your choice among 12-15) such as chicken (in red or green sauce), carnitas, skirt steak, brains, tripe, chile colorado and so on; beans (refried or whole, black or red), rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chiles and other stuff. After this is rolled, the result is a thing maybe a foot long and 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter which sells for around $4 and will provide any normal person with a meal or two.

    In my experience, these inventions differ from anything a Mexican in Mexico might recognize by being much larger, and by having many more ingredients (the Mexican burritos I've had had maybe some meat only or meat, beans and/or rice but are made with normal-sized tortillas and usually served several to a plate (no plates in the Mission--it gets rolled in foil).

    You may well be "used to" the same thing I'm talking about, but I gather they were invented in CA. I've been eating them in the Mission for 20 years but I think I first encountered them being called "Mission style" on Roadfood.com, though it makes sense they could have been invented in the Mission District of SF because they are certainly HUGELY popular there (show me anyone in SF under 30 who doesn't eat several a month, especially anyone unemployed or marginally employed). Anyway they have by now gone national in places like Chipotle (part of the McDonald's corporate empire) but I've never eaten in a Chipotle so I can't say how close theirs come to the mom & pop originals.
    #14
    PaulBPool
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2005/01/26 15:07:11 (permalink)
    Well now, Long Island isn't exactly NYC...but we're close. Couple of good places out here, family owned and operated, that serve very traditional Amerixican food. Don Juan restaurants. I used to go to the one in Massapequa (which was originally El Zorro) quite often, I still think that one is the best of the lot. Others in Westbury and Hicksville are okay. Good taco/burrito/enchiladas, try the Pollo Mexicano and the "special". Great spicy red sauce with loads of garlic, and if you ask them to make it caliente, they will gladly heat it up! GREAT frozen margaritas and other fruity drinks.
    #15
    ericats
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    RE: Mexican Food in NYC 2005/01/26 15:36:45 (permalink)
    BT, I have to disagree with you re mexican restaurants in CA not using butter or cream. Rajas con crema and chiles en nogada both contain large amounts of cream and shrimp/fish dishes are usually sauteed in butter (maybe it's a regional thing, I'm in So Cal.)

    In certain areas of Mexico they use butter and cream quite often. There are two great books by Patricia Quintana , Taste of Mexico and Feasts of Life (I beleive they are both out of print), that have many recipes with cream and butter. These are both wonderful books and I recommend them to everyone.
    #16
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