Posts Tagged With: Mexican

Meet the New Mexican Sheriff of Hell’s Kitchen – Tacuba

Tacuba

Tacuba

November 20, 2016 Update:  Three months later, Tacuba of Hell’s Kitchen is clicking on all Chimichangas!  A big birthday bash for a close friend last night started with a sound concern, but ended with another fun meal.  If you go however, try to avoid Friday and Saturday nights if you can.  The word is apparently out (ahem!).  There were quite a few large groups there besides the usual turnout, and they can get busy.  Tacuba has all the red flags of places I usually avoid.  Younger crowd, loud, overzealous vibe sometimes.  But the touch of Julian Medina (who I finally met last night) of Toloache fame, gives it this nice balance of food and energy you cant get out of Mexican in Hell’s Kitchen.  Nothing new to report food wise.  Stick to the Carnitas, Pulpo and the rest of the appetizers.  And the drinks here are quite good.

August 7, 2016 Post:  To open a Mexican restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen these days requires some major Chalupas.  I need to double check with the EWZ stats department but its entirely possible that Mexican is more represented in the Kitchen of Hell than Thai these days.  The last couple of years saw Taquerias, Tex-Mex, and all sorts of various sit-downs flood the area.  All while old fashioned Mexican bodegas forced to close or transform themselves.  So forgive me when I say this, but when I saw yet another Mexican being developed on 9th between 54/53, I said the same thing when they replaced Little Chef with Choza at Gotham West Market.  We need another Mexican here like I needed Shingles

Then I find out this is another place from Julian Medina, of Toloache fame.  That intrigued me enough to stop wishing for shingles, but not quite enough to make it a priority (sorry Medina).  But I needed to try it for myself eventually.  Oh and by the way did I mention that spot is cursed?  It saw a bunch of places come and go, whose names no one can recall.  The only memorable thing about this location saw one of my co-workers get slapped by a former CEO when it was an Italian joint.  It was a playful slap, but a slap to the face nonetheless.

But the reason that intrigued me wasnt Medina (sorry again Julian, I owe you a drink), but the fact that with all the Mexican we have in Hell’s Kitchen, I was never truly comfortable recommending any of them to visitors looking for a “Mexican restaurant”.  They are all either too authentic, too taqueria, too hole in the wallish, too tex-mex, too chilish, or just simply too suck.  I couldnt think of one spot, but I think that’s about to change.  There’s this new place opening soon on 10th promising to make Mission style… just kidding Medina (make it a pitcher).  I think Tacuba may very well be it.Tacuba OCtopus Tosdata

Talking about Mission, the dish that is simply called Carnitas at Tacuba has that Mission District slow roasted nastiness.  It comes with Chicharron (Cracklings), four little tortillas for you to master your taco skills, but thats not all… A beautiful, tangy tamarind habanero salsa that will make you want to dip you car keys into.  You may also want to add some sides to go along like the rice and beans, and the unique Avocado Fries.  But dont overlook the terrific Sweet Plantains.

The one thing I love about Tacuba is its short, to the point menu.  Other than the good looking Ceviche section, they only have about 5 appetizers, which they seem to master.  The Guacamole is thick and proper, with chile serrano giving it a little kick.  The Zucchini Flower Quesadilla with Burrata, Manchego and kale pesto tastes much better than it sounds.  Good luck finding this in your neighborhood Cantina.  But the one must eat here for both lunch and dinner is Octopus.  For lunch you got a Torta featuring Chorizo, Octopus, and Chipotle Butter.  And for dinner (and lunch) Octopus comes on a toasty Tostada with chipotle butter and mezcal.  Carnitas Burrito at lunch time is well done as well, other than the accompanying fries that can use some work – I suggested rosemary and garlic chips or something to oomph them up.  No Complaints on the desserts and drinks side either.  Go!

Tacuba
802 9th Ave (53/54)

Tacuba Carnitas Tacuba Tacos Tacuba Octopus Torta

Tacuba

Tacuba

Tacuba

Tacuba

 

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Categories: Midtown West, New York City | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Eating Without Ziggy – Hummus Whisperer’s San Francisco Report

I was already eating good food in NYC the day of my flight, as I somehow convinced the wife and daughter to attend the annual Grub Street Food Festival in LES, per Ziggy’s recommendation from the night before.  We arrived at the start at 10am and tasted the freshest bites.  The most memorable items included the melt in your mouth smoked short rib & pork shoulder chili with hominy from Char No. 4 (not Chanel No. 5 as they told me), borscht from Gifelteria, and coffee with a delicious pear walnut tart from Cafe Grumpy.

This was my first business trip in 2 years and last time I went to Des Moines, Iowa, enough said. First stop was at the Newark airport terminal C, the Grand Central Oyster Bar at the Newark airport Terminal C!!! Had a lovely platter of 8 oysters, the best in NYC, per Ziggy, and definitely the best at Newark Airport. Next was my first class meal with my 3rd Bloody Mary.  The chicken was a TV dinner, but the ice scream sundae on this United flight was a pleasant surprise.

There are 4487 restaurants in San Francisco according to an online review site and I’m here for 4 nights.  I think there are just as many restaurants as the homeless on the block of my hotel,  and according to a local friend they come here from all over the country to get paid a stipend and enjoy the mild weather. Apparently the city is believed to have the highest number of homeless people per capita of any major US city.  One of the reasons they arrive, in my opinion is…Sardines. It’s so important to the food scene, that Ziggy gave me an assignment to blog about “Sardines and anything else, but mostly Sardines.” It appears that there are actually no more than a dozen restaurants in SF that serve sardines, but I will look for Sardines as I don’t want to disappoint.

Lunch: The Melt – the place specializes in melted cheese sandwiches. Trust me they know what they are doing. I had the “ballpark sandwich,” a weekly special in honor of the SF Giants, spicy cheddar with hot dog and special secret mustard recipe – very tasty, they grill the bread perfectly and hide the pickle underneath the gourmet chips, all for $5.50.


For dinner I convinced my coworkers to have our first experience with Burmese food, Burma Superstar in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. I knew that the place usually has a 1 hour wait, but because the SF Giants were playing game 7 of the National League series, the place easily had room for 4. The restaurant looks like a typical eatery you can find in NY’s east village, but no human feels like a sardine here. What I didn’t know is that their tea leaf salad and rainbow salad were recently featured on the Food Network.

Each one was a perfect blend of ingredients, 21 and 25 ingredients respectively. As for the rest of the menu, I learned that the depth of smells and flavors far exceeds Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Korean food. I had a delicious mixed vegetable curry (pictured on left), my coworkers had the pumpkin shrimp and garlic shrimp dishes. The calamari salad was also outstanding. I had a Soju, Ginger, and lemon juice drink called “i know Kung  fu” as a perfect accompaniment. If you are looking for a delicious, authentic Asian experience in SF, this is the right place.

Breakfast and lunch were an easy choice with The Plant in the building. A great selection of organic juices and smoothies, as well as manual drip coffee, a concept I have not seen in NY, used to achieve the perfect brew.  Same place for lunch, a veggie burger to die for (the bun was red!).  I had one with melted cheese and mushrooms and another with wasabi Aioli. I also ate a tasty red Thai curry veggies with coconut rice.
In my hunt for sardines, I climbed a mountain, actually a Russian Hill to Pesce. Should I take a trolley? Neh. I climb like a local, even the roads have marks so you don’t slip. Note to self, stay at the Fairmont next time. That’s where the Detroit Tigers World Series delegation is staying. Grace cathedral down the block, they do yoga in there!! An hour an a half later, I finally arrived at Pesce, serving Venetian Cicchetti.  The chef is from Venice. I’m definitely the only tourist in a mile radius excluding those traveling on the trolley.  I picture the entire Tanner family from the show Full House eating here.  immediately sat at the bar and Ordered the Grilled Sardines!, squid ink risotto with Calamari, and one of my new favorite vegetables, the brussels sprouts.  First bite of sardines…delicious, no bones.  This is the kind of place I want to visit once a week. Then burned it all off by walking more steep hills and took a trolley downhill for an exhilarating ride.  Next stop, Venice.
On my last night I chose to explore a different side of the city that most tourists don’t dare to visit, the Mission District, better known as “the Mission.” You can consider it a hipster neighborhood similar to the Lower East Side with a rich history of immigrants from Germany, Ireland and more recently Mexico. Walking through the neighborhood, I saw pot smoking bums, hipsters, Punks – a thriving subculture there, packed tattoo parlors, and churches with Mexican mariachi bands, as well as Mexican, Honduran, Salvadoran and Guatemalan restaurants. I passed a famous french Michelin two star rated restaurant called Saison. There are over 350 restaurants in the Mission alone. I arrived at my destination, Gracias Madre, a Mexican restaurant famous for its unique, fresh vegan cuisine. From the first taste of their home-brewed ginger ale and bite the Appetizer, butternut squash and caramelized onions folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa, I can tell that they emphasize healthy, organic, fresh local ingredients and flavors.  For main course I continued a squash theme with a delicious Roasted poblano chile stuffed with butternut squash and caramelized onions, topped with pecan cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, served with black beans, rice, and tortilla with side of zucchini. Also ordered a cashew version of Flan, which turned out more delicious than regular Flan.  In my opinion, this is one of the best vegan restaurants in the world.
Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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