Any good Mexican restaurants in NYC?
January 4, 2006 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Are there any good, authentic, home-made Mexican food restaurants in the New York City area?

I've been told that there isn't any good Mexican food in NYC, but I find it hard to believe. Although - after searching and trying places after only living here a few months, it may be true. If it is true, why?
posted by nwhycgirl328 to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're interested in a little travel, friends of mine run an authentic Mexican family restaraunt in Stamford, CT (about 40m by train out of Grand Central) on Summer Street called Viva Mexico. Husband's back in the kitchen, wife serves the cafe tables. He speaks very little English, but she's lived in the area for some time.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:39 AM on January 4, 2006

I've been told that there isn't any good Mexican food in NYC

This was true until the massive influx of Mexicans in the '90s, since when (thankfully) it has been a base canard. There's lots of good Mexican food in NYC, but it's not easy to keep up with, since restaurants close and chefs change jobs with distressing frequency. Ask your foodie friends, ask Mexicans you run into, and follow the Chowhound discussion boards. And do try huitlacoche if you get the chance (any authentic eatery should have it); it may be corn fungus, but it's tasty and unique.
posted by languagehat at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2006

The four places in NYC where I will eat Mexican :

Cafe El Portal
Mary Ann's
Matamoros Deli (this place is actually a deli, but they have what is often referred to as the best burrito in Brooklyn)

Avoid San Loco, Fresh Tortillas, or any place that has their menu on little plastic signs at the front of the restaurant.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:56 AM on January 4, 2006

I'm a former Texan living in NY and I feel your pain. There are many small taquerias in NYC frequented by actual Mexicans. They can be had to find, however, and do change frequently. Also, New Rochelle is said to have some new and tasty Mexican offerings, but I have yet to sample them and wouldn't know where to begin.

Those are your best bet. Otherwise, it's pretty slim pickins.

However, La Palapa, on St. Mark's Place is pretty damn tasty. Try the pipin polenta. You won't be sorry.
posted by mds35 at 7:57 AM on January 4, 2006

I miss those Matamoros sopas, I miss Brooklyn :(
posted by any major dude at 8:02 AM on January 4, 2006

Yep, for some reason, in order to get good Mexican food you typically have to look outside of Manhattan. Both Charritos in Hoboken, (great salsa) and the Taqueria in Jersey City are great. The Taqueria is more LA-style Mexican, and it ROCKS.

I've also been to Viva Mexico in Stamford several times, and I totally agree with thanotopsis' assesment. I'm glad to hear that they are doing well.
posted by lilboo at 8:22 AM on January 4, 2006

New Rochelle (take Metro North going to Stamford) in Westchester County has a couple decent ones. El Michoacano has very good tacos al pastor or carne asada. Their tortas are ok too. There's another one a couple of blocks away (Main st around North Av.) I forget the name, but they serve cochinita pibil that--for being in gringolandia--is good. Another one is "the four corners".

I hear there's good options in Queens (Queens blvd) but I didn't try those.

> Avoid ... any place that has their menu on little plastic signs at the front of the restaurant.

He, I would take these plastic signs as a strong hint that the place is run by real mexicans.

Oh, and FWIW I am mexican.
posted by tremendo at 8:40 AM on January 4, 2006

Reliably good Mexican is hard to find in NYC. The only restaurant I've found that hasn't disappointed me is Bonita. For a quick fix I second Afroblanca's recommendation for Matamoros Deli.
posted by idest at 9:01 AM on January 4, 2006

When the weather breaks, try the redhook ballfields. It's kind of a trek from Manhattan, but probably worth it. Also in the area is El Huipil, which I found very good, but others deem heavenly. It won an award from L Magazine, for whatever that's worth.
posted by miniape at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2006

Corona Queens on the 7 train is a trip to a very Mexican place, might be too authentic for you though.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:24 AM on January 4, 2006

Take the 7 to Corona. Look around. It'll probably be a dumpy little bodega with a small, handwritten sign. It will be good. If memory serves, there was a fairly decent place in Astoria near the Astoria branch library.
El Sombrero in the east village/lower east side will do in a pinch, but it's not great.
posted by willpie at 9:41 AM on January 4, 2006

What idest said. Bonita is the best we've found for authenticity. Way better than nearby Bean. Bedford Ave Williamsburg, near South 2nd.
posted by Decani at 10:01 AM on January 4, 2006

in manhattan there is a place on sullivan st called florencia 13, owned by a couple of guys from south la. it's pretty good la style mexican.
posted by elsar at 10:36 AM on January 4, 2006

oh, and thanks for the heads up on new rochelle.
posted by elsar at 10:37 AM on January 4, 2006

La Maguey Y La Tuna on Houston is really good.
posted by rottytooth at 11:14 AM on January 4, 2006

Er ... make that El Maguey Y La Tuna.

And if you do make it up to New Rochelle, La Herradura is excellent.
posted by rottytooth at 12:04 PM on January 4, 2006

Also up in Westchester, there's Coyote Flaco, which used to just be one restaurant on Midland Ave in Port Chester, but which now also has a shop in New Rochelle.
posted by Inkoate at 12:10 PM on January 4, 2006

I'll throw in Pancho Villa's in Huntington (Long Island). But only because when my brother was in the Navy, he was talking to some San Diego natives about Mexican food, and they dismissed his opinions because he was from "back east". They said there were no "authentic" Mexican restaurants in New York - with one exception. Pancho Villa's.
Sorry, no link.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 12:52 PM on January 4, 2006

the best burrito in Brooklyn

Burritos are not Mexican, they're Cal-Mex. If you see a place advertising burritos, it's not an authentic Mexican restaurant. (Nothing against Cal-Mex, though I personally find burritos boring, but the poster specifically asked for "authentic, home-made Mexican food.")

talking to some San Diego natives about Mexican food

Were these Mexican SD natives? If not, they don't know about Mexican food, they know about Cal-Mex. See above.
posted by languagehat at 1:10 PM on January 4, 2006

As languagehat points out, people call lots of different cuisines "Mexican food". Maybe you are searching for and trying the wrong kind of thing? I know that I prefer Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex to, uh, Mex-Mex, and so whenever someone says they've found the best Mexican food, I always have to clarify or else I will be disappointed. That said, I also live in NYC and have found some restaurants that make dishes that I love, but none that blow me away consistently.
posted by unknowncommand at 1:43 PM on January 4, 2006

Having not been to Mexico, I have nothing to really compare with but when we were visiting NYC in July 2005 we came across a great little place called Pedro's Spanish American Restaraunt at 73 Jay Street, Brooklyn (DUMBO). Between the 2 of us we had about 4 dishes and it cost us about $27. We can't reccomend it highly enough!
posted by mule at 4:23 PM on January 4, 2006

languagehat> Burritos are not Mexican, they're Cal-Mex.

Er, just to clarify, I've been eating burritos forever, and they are definitely mexican... Now, they weren't what most people now call burritos, those I'd call "burrotes" :)
But anyhow, what you call Cal-Mex burritos are migrating back into Mexico too, and some of my fellow mexicans really don't know about the burritos from northern Mexico (I'm from Sonora), they are rather smallish/long usually of only beans or/with machaca or other meat, vs the huge wraps (very American) that have now usurped the name. And yes, flour tortillas are mexican!

Mexican cuisine is incredibly varied with many "real", "typical" and "authentic" dishes from all around the country, and no, not all of it is spicy
posted by tremendo at 6:26 PM on January 4, 2006

More suggestions here. I was going to suggest Taqueria y Fonda, too, but I wasn't sure if it was still there.
posted by mds35 at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2006

they are definitely mexican... Now, they weren't what most people now call burritos

Well, then, you're agreeing with me, because what I meant was "what most people now call burritos." But I think you knew that. Anyway, although there are places in Mexico where you can get something called a burrito, when my favorite aunt and uncle traveled through Mexico (this was some years ago, I admit) they couldn't find anyone who recognized the word as an item of food.

Mexican cuisine is incredibly varied with many "real", "typical" and "authentic" dishes from all around the country, and no, not all of it is spicy

I've been telling people this for years. Quit demanding the standard burritos and huevos rancheros and seek out regional specialties, people! Encourage diversity!
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2006

Encourage diversity!

F'real, yo. Haven't you people ever heard of nachos?
posted by mds35 at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2006

Bah, sorry to come late to the party, but...

Los Dos Molinos on 18th St b/t Irving and Park.

They have a couple restaurants in Arizona. I grew up in Phoenix and take my Mexican food very seriously. Los Dos was one of my favorite places in Phoenix. I was shocked when a friend told me recently that they had a Manhattan location and that I lived within a 5 minute walk. When I got back from my holiday vacation to AZ, the first thing I did was check out the Los Dos here. It was awesome. Very, very spicy. Great margaritas. Make sure you order from the "specialities" section of the menu and also try the tamales.
posted by mullacc at 2:18 PM on January 5, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you, all! I have a lot of taste-testing to do.
posted by nwhycgirl328 at 3:18 PM on January 5, 2006

I just had the best Horchata ever at Cafe Mexicano in Brooklyn at Union and 4th Avenue. It seats 6, so be warned. $2 mole tamales are great, too.
posted by billtron at 8:32 AM on March 2, 2006

« Older Incredibly basic iPod/iTunes question   |   Richard Lewontin in English in Italy Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.