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Great Mexican joints
In anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, we check out five new places that are breathing life into New York’s South of the Border dining and drinking scene.
Wed Apr 25 2012
Photograph: Dominic Perri
Albodingos en Chipotle (beef meatballs) at Casa Enrique
The regional mash-up:
The backstory: The gleaming white dining room suggests a modernist menu, but the food here is a homespun affair. Mexican brothers Cosme and Luis Aguilar teamed up with the owners of Bar Henry to open this small Long Island City eatery in March. Cosme mans the stoves, drawing on his late mother’s traditional recipes from Cintalapa, Chiapas, as well as dishes from Puebla and San Luis, where he also lived. Luis oversees the dining room as GM, and their younger cousin Chantel, a quick-smiling Queens native, serves the tables, bringing a familial warmth that matches Cosme’s soulful regional cooking.
What to order: Start your meal with the beef albondigas ($9)—the short-rib-and-brisket meatballs are fluffy and moist, with a wedge of hard-boiled egg at their center and a pool of a chipotle-spiked roasted tomato sauce below. Sop it up with nutty, warm rounds from Tortillas Piaxtla in Queens. Main courses showcase a wide range of deeply flavored, long-cooked sauces. For the Mole de Piaxtla ($16), Cosme cooks down a spicy paste of five roasted chilies (including guajillo, pasilla and chipotle) with starchy plantains, nuts and earthy cocoa for three hours, and then simmers chicken in the complex stew. In the Chamorro de Borrego ($20), bitter guajes (green seeds from a pod) add a vegetal note to the bright sauce of pulla and guajillo chilies cloaking the braised lamb shanks.
5-48 49th Ave between Vernon Blvd and 5th St, Long Island City, Queens (347-448-6040)