Tag Archives: Pinche Taqueria

If Time Out New York can do it, so can I. I’ve been inspired and satiated by Time Out’s 2009 Top 100 list and look forward to conquering their 2010 list very soon. But from now until the end of the year, I present my own Top 100 Dishes of the year in reverse order. Look for another five dishes every few days.

90. HUITLACOCHE QUESADILLA at TEHUITZINGO

I’m always curious to see how Mexican restaurants translate or explain huitlacoche. I’ve heard it refered to as black corn, corn smut, and Mexican truffles. But Tehuitzingo’s translation is probably the most appetizing I’ve seen: corn mushroom.

And this stuff is just that, it’s a fungus that grows on corn. For some reason, it’s more expensive and more highly prized than the unvarnished yellow stuff. And I’ll tell you, it makes for a delicious addition to a spicy, cheesy quesadilla.

The version at Tehuitzingo (which is my favorite hidden Mexican spot located at the back of an unassuming bodega) is exemplary. It’s got just the right amount of flavor and texture to make a balanced snack, but doesn’t overwhelm the experience of the huitlacoche itself. You get a smoky earthy funk on the palate and an interesting soft pop as you bite into each black piece.

They can call it whatever they want, but I’ll still be back for a quick, cheap snack whenever I’m in the neighborhood. And you should too. Price: $3.50

TEHUITZINGO DELI AND GROCERY
695 Tenth Avenue (between 47th and 48th Street)
Hell’s Kitchen
(212) 397-5956

89. BRUSSELS SPROUT & PANCETTA PIZZA at MOTORINO

I’ve been very vocal about my devotion to Kesté when it comes to neo-Neapolitan pizzerias. I find their dough and toppings to be the most delectable and authentic (not that I’ve ever been to Naples!)

Motorino might get more publicity and hype and while I’ve enjoyed them, I just don’t think they compete with Kesté.

Except when we’re talking about the Brussels Sprout & Pancetta Pizza, which seems to get better and better upon each visit. The sprouts are fresh and distributed well. The ham is salty enough with a meaty, earthy flavor that was balanced with the creamy richness of the fior di latte mozzarella. And the dough is charred, chewy, and heavenly.

It’s the kind of pizza I’d expect to find at Kesté. Except I got to give points to Motorino for this one. Price: $16 ($14 at Brooklyn location)

MOTORINO
349 East 12th Street (between 2nd and 1st Avenue)
East Village
(212) 777-2644
319 Graham Avenue (between Ainslie Street and Devoe Street)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
(718) 599-8899
motorinopizza.com

88. CARROTS at BLUE HILL

Ok, now I’m doing it. This dish is something you can get at Blue Hill for free… if you order one of their tasting menus. I know it’s annoying, except you’ll get a great meal and get to taste the most amazing raw vegetables you’ve probably ever had.

For those of you that don’t know, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill gets all their ingredients from their own farm in Tarrytown, NY (there’s also an acclaimed restaurant attached, Stone Barns) or from one of the other nearby Hudson Valley farms. Talk about sustainabilty.

The carrots are served poked on a series of metal prongs as an amuse bouche (called Vegetables on a Fence). And they’re nothing fancy. No special sauce or foam. Just raw carrots with maybe a hint of sea salt.

And they taste amazingly sweet and earthy. This is where simplicity really proves itself. We’ve all had carrots so many times before but never really paid attention to where they come from or the depth of flavor they contain. It’s much easier when they’re this fresh, local, and beautifully presented. Included with prix-fixe

BLUE HILL
75 Washington Place (between Avenue of the Americas and Washington Square West)
Greenwich Village
(212) 539-1776
bluehillfarm.com

Photo courtesy of: pinkpignyc.com

87. SESAME PANCAKE WITH VEGETABLES at VANESSA’S DUMPLING HOUSE

Even though the shape is closer to a slice of pizza, the sesame pancake sandwich at Vanessa’s is a bit reminiscent of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. However,  it reminds me more of a NY bagel. I think it could have something to do with the litany of sesame seeds and the richness of the perfectly tender dough. But it’s lighter and cheaper than any bagel sandwich you’ll ever find. And features the cleaner, sweet flavors of the aforementioned banh mi.

The vegetable option starts at $1.50 (it’s even half that for just the bread) and reaches $2.25 if you choose the peking duck filling. All the sandwiches come with carrots, cucumbers, and cilantro, but in my mind these perfect little snacks don’t need anything else. Tucked inside the sesame pancake and brushed with a bit of sweet brown sauce, the vegetables are fresh, crunchy, and bursting with flavor. Not to mention colorful.

Sure, you could get roasted pork, beef, duck, or even tuna salad in that beautiful, warm pocket. But for a quick, flavorful snack, the vegetables are perfect and couldn’t be more affordable. And even though I try to compare it to other NY dishes, this is in a league all its own. Price: $1.50

VANESSA’S DUMPLING HOUSE
118 Eldridge Street (between Grand and Broome Street)
Chinatown
(212) 625-8008

86. YUCA FRIES at PINCHE TAQUERIA

I came to Pinche Taqueria because the Village Voice had raved about their fish tacos. It’s a step up in ambience from the Mexican delis/taquerias of the city but somewhere below the dark, crowded margarita party dens of the West Village. The casual fast-food vibe with part exposed brick and part nostalgic cheesy pink panelling, makes for a great neighborhood location.

And the Mexican food is affordable and tasty enough. It’ll do in a pinche (get it?), but it’s far from the most flavorful Mexican food I’ve had in the city. The fish tacos were light and crispy, but the al pastor tacos were a bit on the bland side and had a slightly off texture. But I’d be willing to give them a second chance, if to just have another opportunity to indulge in the side of yuca fries.

The one thing I’d come back for again and again here are the amazingly addictive yuca fries. They were served in a ridiculously large order and I had to really stop myself from finishing the whole platter. The fries were thin and had a greasy crunch that melted away to a starchy, delicate, salty finish. The cilantro mayo and jalapeño ketchup were the perfect dipping sauce.

The tacos seem to take center stage here and the fries are listed as a side. I understand that’s how you order such things, but I’d rather make this my meal any day and put the tacos on the side. Price: $4.50

PINCHE TAQUERIA
227 Mott Street (between Prince and Spring Street)
Nolita
(212) 625-0090
333 Lafayette Street (between Bleecker and Houston Street)
(212) 343-9977
pinchetaqueria.us

Photo courtesy of: justcooknyc.blogspot.com


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