Showing posts with label mexican food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mexican food. Show all posts


This is Where to Eat Your Tacos on Cinco de Mayo

If tacos were a food group, I would have no trouble fulfilling that dietary requirement. I love the versatility of those flour or corn tortilla vessels of yumminess--carne asada with tomatillo salsa, mole chicken with toasted sesame seeds, even fried cactus with crumbled queso fresco and I'm game! 

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant

I was recently invited for dinner at Cafe El Presidente, the year-old outpost of the Tacombi chain's well-known Mexican-inspired creations located in the Flatiron district. Walking in, you almost think you've entered a marketplace instead of a sit-down restaurant, with a juice bar on your right, hanging fluorescent lighting above, and black and white checkered tiles below. But then you realize that this is just a rarity in New York: a restaurant with space enough letting you walk around without needing to bump into anyone else. I couldn't help but wonder what used to be in this space as we settled in and I watched the chefs at work in the large open kitchen near our table.

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant dining room

Cafe El Presidente Mexican restaurant kitchen

First things first, drinks. I decided on a margarita with salt (no frills necessary if it's good; $12) and my boyfriend ordered the Oaxacan Old Fashioned (pronounced Wa-HA-Kan for those of you too shy to order it correctly; $14) with mezcal instead of whisky. Both were solid libations, but I'd love to go back and try the Pina Colada ($13) because nothing screams vacation (even if it's just for a few hours) like a pina colada.

Oaxacan Old Fashioned and Margarita
Oaxacan Old Fashioned and Margarita

The menu came, and we were surprised by its understatement. We almost thought that we had to mark off what we wanted with a pencil and just hand it in, as you would to a street cart vendor or something. But alas, it's all part of the ambiance.

Cafe El Presidente menu

We also took the time to admire the impressive selection of hot sauces available on every table. I'm a bit of a whimp when it comes to spice, so I was not about to even touch the "Oro Negro" (literally: black gold) bottle of habanero concentrate and grapeseed oil, although I did admire the numerous warning signs. The other sauces--morita, cascabel, jalapeno, and habanero--were more recognizable and I made a pact with myself to try at least one over the course of the meal.

Cafe El Presidente hot sauces
Hot sauces

To start, we tried the Esquites ($3.95), which was grilled corn with contija cheese and chipotle mayo, and I would HIGHLY recommend it. Served in a cute paper cup, appropriately feeding on the street food theme, it was so good that I could have gobbled up 2. We also had the Ceviche Guerrero ($14.95) served over guacamole. I could taste the freshness of the fish, and the lime juice truly brought out the sweetness as well. Again, I could have made a meal out of just this dish.


Ceviche Guerrero
Ceviche Guerrero

For our main course, we split the Gringa Madison quesadilla ($7.95) and 6 tacos: al pastor ($2.49), Baja crispy fish ($4.95), Puerco Toluca ($3.49), Nopal de Matehuala ($3.49), Sonoran shrimp ($4.49), and the seared fish de Ixtapaleno ($4.49). Holy my goodness and ay caramba. Note to self: never go here alone.

The quesadilla was served open faced with all sorts of goodies including heritage pork and Chihuahua cheese. It had more of that chipotle mayo which really tied everything together. As for the tacos, my favorite was definitely the Baja crispy fish because it had the perfect ratio of crisp to succulent. I also really loved the Puerco Toluca (chorizo) with the Cascabel hot sauce--see, I tried it! Also, if you've never sampled cactus (nopal), do yourself a favor and try this one. It was paired with swiss chard so I considered it my "vegetable" for the meal.

Gringa Madison Quesadilla
Gringa Madison Quesadilla
nopal, Puerco Toluca, seared fish, Sonoran shrimp tacos
From top left: nopal, Puerco Toluca, seared fish, Sonoran shrimp tacos
Al Pastor and Baja crispy fish tacos
Al Pastor and Baja crispy fish tacos
No meal is ever complete without dessert and at Cafe El Presidente, this means Tres Leches Cake. Literally meaning "three milks," tres leches is your typical sponge cake that sits in a mixture of whole, sweetened condensed, and evaporated milk for a little while to get all moist and creamy. This version is layered with jam and topped with coconut--yum!

Tres Leches Cake
Tres Leches Cake
Taking a look at Cafe El Presidente's brunch menu, it's clear to see why this place is fabulous. Huevos rancheros, empanadas and breakfast tacos? Sign me up! 

For Cinco de Mayo, they are throwing a special France vs Mexico party (with costumes encouraged!). Email for reservations.

Cafe El Presidente Cinco de Mayo celebration

So, will I be back? Most definitely. These are some of the most legit tacos I've had in a long time, and that's coming from a California girl. It also helps that the tortillas are made fresh in the kitchen every day in their on-site tortilleria and that all ingredients are sourced sustainably. Come with a date or celebrate with a group, but either way, you're sure to have a delicious fiesta in your mouth.

Disclosure: Our meal was comp'd, but all opinions are my own.

Cafe El Presidente on Urbanspoon


You Want to Visit the Park with Tequila in Its Name

Last night I went with my friend Jen to check out the grand opening of Tequila Park Taqueria in the Hudson Hotel. It was a tad chilly by the time we got there, but with my jacket on it was a super enjoyable night at a rooftop bar.

The place is very large by comparison to other similar venues, and the vibe is definitely downtown meets uptown ($16 for margaritas?! Holy cow!?), yet nostalgic and whimsical (hello strings of lights, fake grass, and foosball tables).

In all honesty, their menu looked super interesting. I started with the Horchata Apple Blossom Margarita with Riazul Reposado and apple blossom honey and Jen got the Smokin' Apple with Corzo Reposado, ginger, mezcal and red sea salt. These couldn't be more different apple margaritas if they tried. Mine was on the sweeter side while Jen's had quite the kick, but I enjoyed them both.

Horchata Apple Blossom and Smokin' Apple Margaritas ($16 each)

For food we split two orders of tacos, one from the "common" side of the menu--the crispy 48-hour pork carnitas ($8 for 2)--and one from the "uncommon" side of the menu--sriracha cheesesteak ($12). Both were served on homemade tortillas and the latter packed quite the punch with the sriracha. Would highly recommend both!

Crispy 48-Hour Pork Carnitas Tacos ($8)
Sriracha Cheesteak Tacos ($12)

No visit to Tequila Park is complete without at least 3 rounds of foosball (best of 3 wins of course!). We played 4 and yours truly won 2, leaving with sufficiently sore arms. I forgot how much fun those little men on poles could be!!

Ready, set, foosball!!

It's definitely the start of rooftop bar season, so what do you think? Will you check out Tequila Park?


Elemental Dining

Williamsburg is fast becoming (or already is) the new awesome place to own a restaurant. To stand out and survive, each has to have something unique to draw people in and keep them happy hungry customers. Would a menu complete with Italian-style pizzas, South American seafood dishes and juicy burritos do the trick? I think so. 

On the border of McCarren Park, away from the hustle and bustle of Bedford Ave., you'll find Cu 29 Copper. Named to bring about thoughts of chemistry and harmony between different cuisines, the restaurant was decorated in warm hues of rust and of course, copper, with the center point being the large brick oven. I was invited by the owners on a nippy Sunday night to sample the menu and get a feel for this hidden gem.

We were seated in the large back room, with a view out to the good size outdoor patio. How I wished the weather was warmer so that we could have sat outside! When we arrived a family was finishing up their meal and a couple was canoodling/eating dinner on a cozy couch. There was a rather large elevated space in the corner and the host told us that they regularly have live music on weeknights. 

We started with the Roasted Garlic Shrimp. Talk about garlic. The sizzling dish packed a punch of flavor. I would watch out for this dish on a first date, but man oh man was it delicious. The shrimp were succulent, and my only complaint would be that I wanted more bread to sop up the remaining sauce. 

Roasted Garlic Shrimp

The next dish was Cu 29 Copper's Signature Pizza. The fluffy, slightly blackened (in a good way) crust was piled high with pepperoni, sweet sausage, peppers, mushrooms, red onions, black olives, hot cherry peppers and mozzarella cheese. With a slight kick, this pizza was super tasty. We came close to finishing it, but then the waiter reminded us we still had one more dish to try.

Cu Signature Pizza

The last dish, and my favorite, was the Seafood Moqueca, a traditional Latin seafood stew with coconut milk, lobster broth, cilantro and toasted pine nuts, served over rice. This dish came with lots of extra bread so as soon as we slurped up the mussels and found all the bits of calamari, we left no broth at all. The yellow rice was amazing as well after it had been sitting in the stew for so long.

Seafood Moqueca
Taking a look at the rest of the menu, I'm intrigued by the other pizzas (Italian Stallion anyone?), the tacos (especially the shrimp tacos with chipotle mole and the tuna tacos with sliced mandarin pico de gallo) and the banana nutella crepes (can't resist!). Drinks are reasonably priced with beers for $5 and signature cocktails ranging from $8-$10. They have a great lunch menu as well with specials around $8, and almost all the online reviews I've read about this place rave about its brunch.

Cu 29 Copper is located at 232 N. 12th Street (between Driggs Ave and Roebling Street).

Cu 29 Copper on Urbanspoon


FINALLY! Good Mexican in Manhattan

Being from Los Angeles, I have been searching high and low in NYC for something to even come close to replicating the often-craved, authentic Mexican food I can find readily available at home. There's the Mexican take-out joints run by Chinese people, and they have decent, cheap food, but the meat always seems like it could double in a Mongolian beef dish as well. Chipotle makes a decent burrito, but come on, burritos are more American than apple pie at this point. 

So when the oh-so-reliable blog Midtown Lunch alerted me to a new Mexican food purveyor near my office, I had to check it out. Taqueria Nixtamalito excited me because the name alone wasn't dumbed down to something a typical American office worker could say easily (not that it didn't take everyone a while to learn the correct pronunciation of Chipotle, but that's a different story). The "permanent cart," I'll call it, is an offshoot of Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona, Queens. They've been dishing out fresh made tortillas, tamales and enchiladas (and wholesaling to NYC staples like Mexicue, Dos Toros Tacos and Rosa Mexicano) and decided to take their show to the big leagues by opening in a space just south of the Municipal Building (1 Centre Street).

When I arrived at 12:15 on a beautiful Tuesday, the line was about five people deep. I read that it can get much longer so I decided to take lunch on the earlier side. For such a small place, I was happy to see such a large menu. Tamales are one of my favorite foods if they're made right, and Taqueria Nixtamalito offered several varieties including chicken mole, chipotle with pork and chicken, and verde with pork all $3.50. The taco menu was also extensive and included chicken ($2.50), pork ($2.50), barbacoa ($2.75), carnitas ($2.50), shrimp ($3.00) and fish ($3.00). Rounding out the menu were chicken mole enchiladas, tortas, guacamole and salads. They also sell the Mexican soda Jarritos!

Although I was tempted by the chicken mole enchiladas, I couldn't pass up what I thought would hopefully be the most amazing (read = only) tamale I've had in years. I ordered the shrimp taco and chicken mole tamale. The cashier asked me if I'd like salsa and I said yes please. Then he made my day even more and asked if I'd like green or red. Salsa verde (green salsa) is amazing with tamales! 

Shrimp Taco
Chicken Mole Tamale 
Tamale Post-Salsa Verde
Ay carumba was I happy! With only three tables next to the actual stand, I took my food across the street to city hall park to eat in the shade and people watch. However, I would totally advocate for finding a table to eat this meal at. After carefully covering my lap in a napkin layered with the plastic bag layered with another napkin, I dug in. The shrimp taco came with mango, cucumber, a tangy mayo-based sauce and of course chunks of succulent shrimp. The handmade tortilla made all the difference as well.

I covered my tamale in the smoky salsa verde and enjoyed the mix of flavors with the mole. There were large pieces of shredded chicken that I enjoyed until I was scraping the extra off of the corn husk. For $6.50, this was a pretty filling lunch. I definitely could not eat two whole tamales without feeling super full. Next time I'm ordering the enchiladas. Who's with me?

The cashier said that they will soon be launching a system where customers can order online, but until then... Viva Taqueria Nixtamalito!

Taqueria Nixtamalito on Urbanspoon