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Dinner at Pulqueria...the real 'Barrio Chino'

  • Restaurant  Pulqueria
  • Cuisine  Mexican
  • Location  11 Doyers Street (between Pell Street & Chatham Square), Manhattan 
  • Phone  212-227-3099
  • Directions  Hopstop
  • Atmosphere  sexy, dark, spacious,
  • Attire  smart casual, dress to impress
  • Ideal for  small groups, 1x1, bar scene, trendsters
  • Price  moderate

Pulqueria is not the type of restaurant/bar that is particularly approachable.  By 'approachable,' I'm referring to the fact that there's no visible signage or even the slightest hint that, just below your feet, resides a hip Mexican restaurant.  In the heart of Chinatown, for that matter.  Located on one of the most confusing, non user-friendly cul-de-sac 'blocks' in the entire borough of Manhattan.  My point is this:  you're not going to just happen upon/find this place if you aren't already aware of its existence.  Period.

While Michelle sat in a non-moving cab during rush hour, I chose to get my evening started with a margarita.  Hell, you already know that I had arrived at Pulqueria on the earlier side of our 6:30pm reservation.  "No rush," I replied, in response to her 'traffic sucks and I'll be arriving a bit later than expected' text message. 

Two very mediocre margaritas later, Michelle arrived at Pulqueria and we were seated immediately.

To begin, Michelle and I chose to split an order of the 'Guacamole Classico,' which was accompanied by a basket of warm and salty house-made tostados.  The vibrant avocado dip was folded with chopped white onions, tomatoes and finished with a dusting of cilantro, green onions, and a couple of lime quarters.

For my entree, I chose the 'Enchiladas Suizas,' which loosely translates to chicken enchiladas with green sauce.  Typically, I shy away from ordering chicken, as I find it either tasteless or too gamey - relatively boring when compared to other proteins - and, to be quite honest, dirty.  Ask me about my experience with Aramark's (one of my previous employers) Arkansas location, situated directly across the street from a major Tyson Chicken plant.             

I asked our server if the kitchen could make me a plate of cheese enchiladas, to which I was told that there were no substitutions.  Um, OK.  "The 'Enchiladas De Jamaica' are vegetarian," she added.  After I explained that I was not a vegetarian - that I just didn't particularly enjoy chicken and was concerned that their enchiladas would be made with dark thigh meat - she simply shrugged and gave me a blank stare.  "Fine, I'll take the chicken enchiladas," I hesitatingly replied.  

Once my entree arrived, however, I was taken aback by its visual authenticity and overall drool-inducing sex appeal.  Two corn tortillas were lightly fried, stuffed with shredded white-meat chicken breast, and folded over (in a taco-like shape).  A liberal amount of melted Chihuahua cheese and sliced white onions crowned each enchilada, whose bottom halves were immersed in a creamy, green tomatillo sauce.

My first bite was all the proof I needed that, maybe, I should consider broadening my enchilada horizons beyond just cheese.   

Conclusion:  I found the food at Pulqueria to be much more impressive than the cocktails which, having read all of the PR pieces and initial reviews, suprised me.  I was under the impression that the venue was leaning heavier towards drinks/destination 'bar/lounge' venuee and less towards eats/legit restaurant.  At least that's the sense I got in the months prior to its opening.  Per my experience, however, it was quite the opposite.  The food completely outshined the beverages...and the service. 

Pulqueria is not somewhere that I will rush back to, per se, but the next time I find myself in Chinatown - hungry, but not in the mood for Chinese food - I would definitely return.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 

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