If you’ve been missing the Mexican food posts since I’ve been back from Los Angeles, no fear, there’s lots of good Mexican food in New York as well. (Don’t let those annoying West Coast transplants fool you!) My favorite cheap Mexican restaurant is Tehuitzingo in Hell’s Kitchen, but on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is go within a five mile radius of work, so that’s when Downtown Bakery comes into the picture. It’s a little more pricey (Hey, it’s in the East Village! The rent is too damn high!) and the food may not be as authentic (Cali-style burritos are on the menu along with more classic Mexican fare), but the food is still mighty tasty.
Speaking of Cali, Downtown Bakery serves breakfast burritos wrapped “California Style” in flour tortillas with hot sauce and sour cream. On a recent visit, I was craving the potato taco at Tacos Villa Corona so I ordered the Burrito De Papa with eggs, fried potatoes, and jack cheese ($5.50). It comes with refried beans, but I thought that would be too much carb-on-carb action, so I asked them to omit the beans. My mistake, without the beans, the burrito was bland and dry. Also, unlike the potato taco at Tacos Villa Corona which had smaller cut potatoes, these were were larger chunks which had less fried surface area and therefore less crunch. Cali wins in this battle. (BUT NOT THE WAR!)
David’s Ranchero Breakfast Burrito, which comes with eggs, chopped green peppers, onions, tomatoes, jack cheese, and black refried beans ($5) was much, much better. There was a lot of flavor, and because of all the vegetables, there was a sauciness that the potato burrito lacked.
If you want spicy, however, try the Enchiladas in Guajillo Sauce ($7) wrapped in white corn tortillas. Covered in an incendiary red sauce made from dried guajillo peppers, this is only for serious spice fiends. I finished it, but I have to admit many tears were shed in the process. A side of black beans and some crema on the side would have helped tremendously to quell the heat.
My favorite at Downtown Bakery, however, is the Pollo En Mole Poblano ($11), stewed chicken breast with mole poblano, served with yellow rice, black refried beans, and corn tortillas on the side. Although I’d like it more if it was made with dark meat, the stewed white meat is always tender, and covered in mole sauce, it’s more than tolerable. The mole is pretty fantastic at Downtown Bakery. It might not be as thick as at other restaurants, but there’s a rich lusciousness to it that complements the breast meat extraordinarily well. The serving of mole is generous at Downtown Bakery, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself wishing for a few more spoonfuls of sauce near the end. If that happens to you, they have you covered. An extra order of mole poblano is available for $1. If that’s not enough (I wouldn’t blame you), a large container is available for $10.
So no matter how hard West Coasters try to convince you good Mexican food can only be found in California, know the truth. Great Mexican can be found elsewhere. Viva Mexico! Viva New York!
69 1st Ave (b/n 4th & 5th St; map)
New York, NY 10003