A few blocks and neighborhoods were skipped for tonight's dinner, a delivery.
We don't go out for Mexican all that much. I'm married to a Mexican, so when we want good Mexican food, we cook. And when we're lucky, and my grandmother-in-law is here visiting, we eat really, really good Mexican food. We do, however, eat a fair amount of street food here in Queens; tacos, elotes, esquites and such. But José is very picky about where we get it from. More about that when I hit some taco trucks.
When we do get Mexican, it's almost always a delivery, and we usually order from two places, which are both, coincidentally, called Tulcingo. Not to be confused with all of the other Tulcingos out there, and there are many. We order from the Tulcingo on 82nd street (4011 82nd Street), occasionally, and more often from Taqueria Tulcingo on 83rd street (4010 83rd St). Whatever the specials of the day are, that's what we get. Over the past few years, the meals have ranged from absolutely delicious to just good. It seems to depend on who's in the kitchen that night. Any sort of meat, when stewed with chipotle with chunks of potatoes, is a winner. I've had some great albondigas, costillas en salsa verde, and tortitas de pollo as well.
So tonight, Mexican delivery, but for the sake of this blog, we ordered from Taqueria Coatzingo, a Chowhound favorite, and a place to cross off of my list. Coatzingo is all over the boards, the specials are highly recommended, and I've been reading about it for ages but we, for some reason or other, never ate there.
When asked about their specials, the cashier rapidly listed at least ten different options. As soon as she said albondigas I stopped paying attention. I love meatballs of any sort. And then I perked up again when I heard huazontles (if you want to know what they are, click here) and ordered those too. Two dinners? Why not. With so many choices José was at a loss. When asked which special was her favorite, the woman on the phone did not hesitate in endorsing chuletas en salsa verde con verdolagas. With that sort of recommendation you don't even have a choice, do you? The food came fairly quickly, and a free 2 liter Coke as a bonus. Something was a little off, though. The bill was almost $40 for just 3 entrees and José looked a little shocked. Now that may not be shocking to most of you, and it certainly wouldn't be for us eating out in Manhattan, but when we normally order, the specials are below or around 10 bucks, and here they were $12.50. Is it because Coatzingo has more of a non-Mexican clientele than the other neighborhood places? I will find out in the future as I make my way through the other places on Roosevelt, once I actually get to one for real.
But, back to the food: it was more expensive but was it better?
Albondigas (meatballs): the chipotle sauce was done well, spicy but not overpowering, some nice slices of onions throughout, and four large meatballs. They had the right taste, slightly minty, well seasoned and flavorful. Many Mexican cooks either put rice or stuff their albondigas with hard boiled eggs, but these had neither. I asked José what he thought. He concurred that while he liked the flavor, there was some texture missing.
Huazontles: Delicious. Stuffed with cheese, battered and fried, then smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with cream. Huazontles do, as the gourmet sleuth said, have the look of broccoli and taste sort of like spinach. There were all sorts of textures and flavors to the dish: the creaminess of the cheese with the spiciness of the jalapeños in the sauce, the fresh green taste of the huazontle, and the crispy then soft batter. Really good, but I couldn't finish it. Lunch tomorrow.
Chuletas (pork chops): José definitely enjoyed them. The meat was soft, not dry like pork chops can sometimes get. The green sauce was thin and spicy, full of verdolagas, (purslane) which gave it a slightly bitter note, in a good way. It had a complex flavor, and I kept grabbing forkfuls of the sauce, even though I had my hands busy with my two dinners.
The rice and bean container: Lost points for being half the size of the take-out rice and beans that we usually get, but gained points for having a chunk of queso fresco and a spoonful of guacamole.
All in all it was a good meal. Definitely high quality, fresh, and authentic (as authentic as it can get in NY) Mexican cooking. But I have had meals just as good at our usual places, and for slightly cheaper prices. So. I have lots of Mexican restaurants ahead of me. Will I find the perfect place? What does that even really mean? I'm not sure, but it will be fun finding out.
76-05 Roosevelt Avenue