Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Feb 9, 2001 10:07 AM

authentic mexican food

  • k

I am looking for very authentic Mexican restaurants in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, or Harlem (have a hunch there are some good spots there). Not TexMex!! Any ideas?? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hi Kristen,
    In midtown, try Dos Rancheros on 9th Ave and 38th Street. Otherwise, in Manhattan, you'll need to head to Spanish Harlem around E. 116th Street and Lex/3rd Avenue.

    In Queens, you'll find authentic Mexican restaurants dotting Roosevelt Avenue from Woodside to Corona. If you take the E, F, or R train to Roosevelt station or the 7 train anywhere from 61st/Woodside to the 90s, you'll find ample places to try. I've been to several, but haven't really scratched the surface, but my favorites seem to be around 81st Street.

    In Brooklyn, the Mexican neighborhood is Sunset Park going into the South Slope, on 5th Ave from around 12th Street and above. People have mentioned Tacos Nuevo Mexico, but I think that place has gone downhill from when it first opened in '95 or '96.

    I know there is a Mexican neighborhood in the Bronx as well, but that is my final frontier of NYC, and have yet to explore the area. Hope this helps.

    1. Some ideas in manhattan:

      Try Gabriela's on Amsterdam and 75th, or on Amsterdam and 93rd. They feature the cuisine of Guadalajara. I especially like their carnitas, and margaritas. Entrees are $10-15.

      I hear that Rosa Mexicano (2 locations)is good authentic Mexican, but haven't tried it yet. It is more expensive than Gabrielas.


      1. g
        George Lynch

        Yes, try La Palupa in the East Village. In fact, see my post about La Palupa in the past few days.

        Terrific regional Mexican, inspired by Diana Kennedy's cooking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: George Lynch

          La Palapa is tasty. But I'm afraid it's anything but "authentic." Kennedy is authentic in the sense that she's an authentic gringo.

        2. Without question, my fave mex in NYC is Mexicana Mama on Hudson betw. Charles and W. 10th. FWIW,I have been to La Palapa, Los dos Rancheros, Rocking Horse, etc. - - all of which I really enjoyed for a variety of reasons, but nowhere near as much as Mexicana Mama. The spices are bold, rich, flavorful, and authentic. They make one of the best chunky guacs I have had and feature rotating homemade salsas that deeply satisfy. Both their chicken mole and barbacoa are superb, their soups top-notch, and there is no better salad around than the Ensalada Mexicana with sliced avocado, mango, jicama and a chipotle dressing. Give it a try - - you won't be disappointed. Oh, one more thing - - head into Kitchen Market on 8th betw. 21-22 for outstanding San Fran Burritos with excellent fillings like roasted chicken in a tomatoe marinade, yucatan stewed pork, and green chile posole - - also, the best downtown resource for canned and bottled mex cooking spices/sauces.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jimmy Z.

            I don't know if it falls into the "authentic" category, but I second the rave--Mexicana Mama is extraordinary. I'm always amazed at how many sauces the chef will make in one day for such a small place. Each is unique--not the "throw red or green sauce on everything" formula that many Mexican restaurants have. I'm a fan of the pork tacos, but their specials are always worth checking out. And the soups! Full of flavor. My only beef is that the soup portions are small (especially if you order in--I always get two!). I've often said to my husband that after eating there, I have the urge to charge over to the chef and give her a grateful kiss!

            1. re: Chowbabe

              I hate to break up the party, but to me, Mama Mexicana sort of personifies everything that is worst about New York Mexican cooking. The food is precious, oversweet, loaded with goop. There is a profound ignorance of the basic principles of Mexican cooking--sometimes, the cooks seem never to have seen a Mexican meal on television, much less eaten one. The barbacoa tastes like bad deli corned beef doctored a little with chile sauce; the chile relleno (at least the one time I had it) was unpeeled, unfried and drowned under what seemed like an entire can of creamed corn. The tortillas taste like beer-bar coasters.

              And in the words of Henny Youngman: The food is terrible--and such small portions.

              1. re: Pepper

                Don't feel bad about being a party pooper, to each his/her own. As for the "ignorance" of the chef, Julietta Ballesteros is from Monterrey, Mexico, so she has definitely more than seen Mexican food on TV. I agree that it's not "authentic" per se, but I champion her bringing the ingredients from her background and taking them to another level.

                1. re: Chowbabe

                  OK, so she's Mexican ... I have not been there yet, but the name of the place really turns me off. Sounds so much like the many horrible so-called "Mexican" joints filled with drunken frat-boys.

                  I do know a couple of Mexican friends who like it, so I guess I'll have to try it once and see for myself.

                2. re: Pepper

                  I agree with the person who said the food is oversweet and loaded with goop. This place is WAY overrated.

                  1. re: Pepper

                    Pepper, please tell us what great Mexican restaurants you recommend in NY so we can calibrate your tastes.

                    Mexicana Mama has some of the best mole I''ve had, but I'm ready to be delighted elsewhere.