Mexican/South American

Mexican Pizza at La Flor Cafe in Sunnyside/Woodside

Posted on March 31, 2010. Filed under: Bakery, Brunch, Mexican/South American, Pizza!, Woodside/Sunnyside | Tags: , , , |

La Flor Cafe in Woodside, Queens is one of my favorite places to go for brunch off the 7 train (see my original La Flor review). Below the bustling subway line is a quaint Mexican inspired cafe that seems to frequently reinvent itself. Flowers are painted on the window panes and tabletops are made from mosaics of broken dishes. The menu is simple, offering a handful of appetizers, tortas, salads and entrees. Brunch is served only until 2pm and you must inquire about the selection of beverages, as they are left off the menu. Just like everything else at La Flor, the Mexican pizza is a marriage of two cultures. A successful merger between the west and the south, the Mexican pizza recreates a New York staple. A traditional Italian crust is topped with Oaxacan cheese, cilantro, guacamole and tender cuts of pork. The pie is big enough to serve two, but once you take a bite you will think twice about sharing.

La Flor Cafe-53-02 Roosevelt Ave Woodside, NY 11377 (718) 426-8023

Mexican Pizza

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The Completo Will Complete You

Posted on February 24, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Bakery, Cheap Dining, Mexican/South American | Tags: , , , , |

“The Revolutionary Chilean Hotdog- The Completo- You Must Try It!” The sign was all I needed to draw me into this seemingly sleepy Chilean bakery in Astoria. I just had to try this hotdog, to see if it lived up to its revolutionary claim of course. Three bites later I was convinced. The Completo is grilled to achieve  a warm and crispy outer shell then topped with an overflowing array of minced avocado, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro all contained in a toasted bun. It is brought to you in its own personal hotdog holder and with a side of red sauce. Antacid sold separately. For dessert, the San Antonio Bakery also supplies a unique selection of chilean pastries and baked goods. Unusual cookies layered with crackers and caramel with a crispy meringue shell, and cakes with layers of real fruit in the middle. If you don’t feel like trying the Completo, they have a wide variety of beef, pork, chicken and fish sandwiches similar to tortas. Don’t let this gem of a bakery go unnoticed. Although the decor is plain, the place is clean and the spacious interior is comfortable for sit-in eating. The assortment of baked goods is interesting and tasty.

San Antonio Bakery 26-20 Astoria blvd 718-777-8733 & 174 Rockaway Ave Valley Stream NY 516-568-0075

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Tortilleria Nixtamal Naturally A-maize-ing

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Cuisine in Queens, Flushing/Corona, Mexican/South American | Tags: , |

Much too often New Yorkers devour their beloved Mexican fare with a grain of salt.  Skeptical palates graze the city landscape for that perfectly authentic tortilla, taco, tostada… thus creating the never-ending debate of what is real Mexican food versus what is merely fodder. Tortilleria Nixtamal will give these folks yet another matter to chew on. Situated on a quiet street in Corona Queens set far from the noisy Roosevelt Ave, where Mexican food abounds, this small tortilleria is popular among converse clad diners who enjoy watching the tortilla production in process. The red and yellow picnic tables are reminiscent of Mexican street-food stands. The menu is brief, but exhibits well prepared, inexpensive meals like tamales, tacos, tostadas and soups. They even have a recession special– tamale, pozole and soda for $6. The Chile Relleno with Tuna is a tasty roasted jalepano pepper stuffed with albacore tuna, delicately arranged to resemble a butterfly on your plate. The food here is good and the service is friendly. They offer tours of the tortilla production and there is even a small factory in the basement where they grind the maize. The restaurant touts healthy and natural tortilla preparation. Nixtamal is an Aztec word to describe corn that has been partially cooked and treated with calcium hydroxide (otherwise known as cal or lime). Nixtamal can be used for grinding into masa (or corn dough) used for tortillas (finely ground) or tamales (coarsely ground), or can be kept in its whole form to make hominy, typically used in pozole soup. (courtesy Tortilla Nixtamal website)

Tortilleria Nixtamal (104-05 47th Ave Corona 718-699-2434) is a worthy field-trip for those adventurous borough dwellers and Manhattanites alike. Here you can get a glimpse into how your food is made from the crushing of the corn to the mixing of the dough. As for its authenticity, well we will have to just leave that topic to the corn pundits. Meanwhile I’ll savor my tasty plate for what it is.

Chile Relleno with Tuna

The Daily Grind

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El Jarochito Mexican Grocery & Take Out

Posted on November 10, 2009. Filed under: Cheap Dining, Mexican/South American, Specialty Food Markets | Tags: , |


Chipotle, Jamaica and More!

El Jarochito (30-11 29th St Astoria) is possibly the closest you can get to Mexico in Astoria, in terms of food products. Canned or dried hominy kernels stock the shelves just waiting for you to throw in some chicken and cook up a nice hot bowl of pozole. The Tostadas Buena Vista taste just like the tostadas made in Xochimilco, crispy and light. They carry a number of dried herbs, jamaica (hibiscus) flowers, peppers, spices and corn husks for making tamales. If you try the Dulce Vero Elotes (candy corn-on-the-cob) you will find that this small lollipop resembles spicy cornmeal on a stick. The Tamarindo juice mix comes in three deliciously sweet flavors: hibiscus, horchata (cinnamon rice milk), and tamarind. Just add cold water. This place also has a small grill where they make tacos, tostadas and many other small plates to go or sit at the side window-stand when weather permits. There are a few Mexican pastries here, but those are not recommended as you can find them at a higher quality somewhere else.


Pozole Made from Hearty Hominy

Spicy Corn Lollipops

Spicy Corn Lollipops

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Mexican Food Trucks

Posted on November 7, 2009. Filed under: Cheap Dining, Elmhurst, Flushing/Corona, Mexican/South American |

100_1406 Eating in Translation guy has been lurking around Queens and here is what  he found in the way of trucks toting tasty food…

Tia Julia
Parked on Benham St. just south of Roosevelt Ave., Elmhurst, Queens
11:00-10:00; closed Thursday

tlacoyo, which resembles an unsealed, pan-fried turnover stuffed with beans (first two photos below; $2.50), or meat and potatoes, and dressed with sour cream, hot sauce, and grated cheese…and much more

El Idolo–  Parked on the south side of Roosevelt Ave. near 104th St., Corona, Queens (One of several trucks with this name)

…serves a taco arabe ($3), in which the tortilla is rolled around grainy, flavorful, chipotle-sauced pork. Rather than a corn tortilla, this Pueblan variation on the top-loaded taco employs a slightly thicker, wheat-flour wrap — introduced, say many stories that seem to spring from the same source, by an Iraqi emigrant in the 1930s.

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San Luis Taco Truck in Astoria

Posted on September 14, 2009. Filed under: Astoria, Cheap Dining, Mexican/South American | Tags: , , |

Tacos from the San Luis Truck

Tacos from the San Luis Truck

The ever popular food truck cuisine has recently expanded in Astoria. Mexican and Ecuadorian food lovers will be happy that a new truck has arrived serving your favorite South American dishes until the wee hours of the morning (on week days that is) The San Luis truck is parked on 31st Street on the corner of Ditmars and offers a variety of cheap eats to-go- like tacos, quesadillas, sandwiches, tortas, salchipapas (slices of hot dogs and french fries served together in a heap of greasy goodness), soup, Ecuadorian entrees like hornado, guatita and fritada all around $8-$10 and of course you can wash it all down with Jarritos Mexican fruit soda. The service at this roadside attraction is friendly, quick and clean. You can eat there on a small ledge connected to the truck, take it to go or order for delivery. The tacos are served complete with red and green sauce and a lime for extra flavor. Wrapped in two soft shells made with corn flour and topped with delicious cilantro, radishes, lettuce and tomato, I tried one dark meat chicken and one chorizo. The fresh vegetables and the small chunks of meat were nestled tightly in their double shells. Although a little small, they were cheap at $2.50 a piece. As the lines show, this place is worth the trip. They are open late, 12pm, during the week, but only until 8pm on Saturday and Sunday. Delivery available 347-344-0002/347-720-3634

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La Vuelta Latino Bistro in Long Island City

Posted on February 18, 2009. Filed under: Date Spot/ Romantic, Fine Dining, LIC, Mexican/South American |

100_09851  La Vuelta (10-43 44th Drive LIC 718-361-1858) 

Hidden on a side road surrounded by nothing- sits a quaint and unassuming Latino bistro. La Vuelta offers a menu that is a turn from the conventional South American fare usually found in New York. Some might call it fusion or nuevo- I just call it plain good. Everything about this restaurant from the intimate setting to the reasonable prices to the friendly service and of course to the food- is a pleasant experience. The row of unique hanging lanterns guides you into a dimly lit restaurant that is decorated with paintings of old cars. Immediately after you sit your server bestows your table with a basket of plantain chips and garlic dip. Staring with a nachos, a dish large enough to feed the entire table. The plate topples over with baked jack cheese and a white bean puree.  The grilled shrimp with coconut rice and pineapple jalapeno is a tender arrangement of  all tastes sweet and hot. The plank roasted tilapia (pictured) with roasted red beets, rice and pepper escabeche adds traditional latin ingredients to form a colorful palate. The buttery tilapia is slightly crisp on a bed of fresh herbs and vegetables. The grilled tuna steak with sauteed vegetables and five pepper salsa is an entree overflowing  with zest but not overpowered by seasoning. It is appropriate to end a cold wintry night with La Veulta’s seasonal cocktail- the Grand Marnier hot chocolate- a steaming hot tin pitcher of cocoa and milk with the essence of bitter orange. If you still crave dessert- the baked apple empanadas are doused in sweet syrup that is sprinkled with jalepeno pepper.  The wine list is short, but offers nothing but quality choices like a fruity Malbec or Camenerie. The small restaurant is still a sleeper so the weekend dinner crowd is limited and short lived. La Vuelta may be off-the-beaten-path but it’s worth the detour.

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Viva El Mariachi Mexican Food in Astoria

Posted on November 7, 2008. Filed under: Astoria, Cheap Dining, LIC, Mexican/South American |

100_06081 Viva El Mariachi 33-11 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106, Astoria 718-545-4039

The name says it all at this authentic eatery serving delicacies from south of the border. The food here certainly isn’t gourmet, but it is wholeheartedly a native from the land of which it hails. A few steps up from street food, Mariachi offers an impressive array of about 35 different platters, along with several traditional tacos, tortas, tostadas, tortillas and burritos- they also have burgers, but we’ll leave those to the local diners to handle. The modest establishment is open late and never seems to be really crowded. It’s convenient to either sidle up to the bar if you’re going solo or grab a table if you have company. Chatting with the locals and eating your complimentary chips while playing some cumbia on the juke box is always a good pastime before your dish arrives. The quesadilla de flor de calabaza or pumpkin flower quesadilla is an unusual find that will satisfy your hungry stomach and curious tastebuds. Three100_06101corn tortillas stuffed with pumpkin flowers and queso blanco, mmm. The $2 soft tacos come in a variety of flavors- like cactus, beef, chicken and vegetable-peppers, onions and mushrooms. If you have a sweet tooth, skip dessert and order the piping-hot Chocolate Mexicano instead. Made from real milk and Abuelita-a true Mexican hot chocolate mix, although Nestle bought out the company a few years back. The taste is creamy and rich with a touch a cinnamon.  You can also make this delicious treat at home. Abuelita and Ibarra chocolate run about $3 at Lupita Mexican Grocery (in Astoria) and make for a great winter drink. Just break off a couple triangles, mix into boiling milk and voila! Viva El Mariachi is open late and offers delivery.

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