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« The Big Cheesy: Contest winner, Danielle's, recap | Main | Revelatory ramen and transcendent pork buns. Obviously, at Ippudo... »
Tuesday
Mar262013

Lunch at Tortilleria Nixtamal

While I wouldn't return for the cheese enchiladas with mole sauce, per se, I would certainly make the journey back to Tortilleria Nixtamal for a plethora of other menu items.

Being that TN (Tortilleria Nixtamal) supplies NYC's best Mexican restaurants with their handmade tortillas and masa, I was thrilled to learn that they also operate a restaurant onsite.  So, on Saturday, the NY Mexican Food Lovers and I headed over to the Corona section of Queens in our monthly quest for the best comida Mexicana in the five boroughs. 

Expecting a party of approximately 6-8, I wanted to be the first to arrive at the restaurant.  After all, it's not like I had made a prior table reservation - I just assumed that TN wasn't the type of place that took pre-bookings.  Upon arrival, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of wait time for a table, especially after revealing the size of my group.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by how accommodating the staff was - they even sat me at a makeshift eight-top before anyone else in my party arrived!

Daily menu specialsInside Tortilleria Nixtamal's small, onsite restaurantAs I waited a few more minutes for my fellow NY Mexican Food Lovers members to arrive, I ordered a refreshing - and rather legit - glass of red sangria.  TN serves sangria, beer, and pulque cocktails.

Red sangria: Sweet and balanced with the perfect amount of wine, the sangria came topped with a melange of chopped winter fruits.A bowl of freshly-fried tortilla chips encircled a mound of chunky pico-de-gallo.  While the fragrant dip was flavorful, I preferred the red and green salsa duo that was already on our table.  To be honest, I find pico-de-gallo to be a bit high maintenance in terms of keeping its loosely-bound ingredients on a chip. 

Chips & pico de galloSalsas rojo y verdeWhile some of the specials sounded great - ahem, the Adobo de Puerco (pork with chile guahillo and puya sauce, served with rice, beans, and tortillas) - I ultimately chose to go with my Mexican standby, the cheese enchiladas.  With mole sauce, for a change. 

Cheese enchiladas with mole sauce, rice, and beansBeing a total rice and beans snob, I must say that I was very impressed with TN's version of both.  The refritos (refried beans) had a whipped consistency, which pleasantly reminded me of my beloved home.  The rice kernels were ideally small (unlike the long-grained crap that most restaurants use), and the fluffy, moist mound evoked a familiar essence of garlic, saffron, and cumin.  Screeeeeeeeeeeeeech!  The music stops.  Sadly, this is where my love affair ended.  The white cheese inside of each enchilada was barely melted, and the corn tortillas surrounding it were hard/stale.  Meaning that the tortillas, themselves, were either old, which I doubt, or not fried.  The mole sauce was lukewarm and, flavor-wise, mediocre, at best.  The straw that broke the camel's back?  The enchiladas were finished with an offensive amount of sliced white onions.  And that's coming from an onion-lover!  Sigh.

...

Overall?  I really enjoyed my meal and experience at TN, despite the enchilada fail.  Next time - and there will be a next time - I will order tamales, tacos, or one of the daily specials. 

I would definitely recommend checking out TN if you're looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path dining adventure.  Plus, the neighborhood is ripe with Mexican and other Latin American bodegas stocking hard-to-find ingredients and produce.  I, for one, loaded up on fresh guayabas and De La Rosa candies!

Tortilleria Nixtamal on Urbanspoon

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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