Roosevelt Ave Mexican Survey
- Eric Eto
I've managed to eat at many of the Mexican restaurants on or near Roosevelt in my few years of living in the neighborhood, but as I look at this list, I realize there are so many places I haven't even tried. Here's a list of as many Mexican restaurants that I've encountered on Roosevelt in the past week, with a few comments or impressions. The list begins at the intersection of Roosevelt and Greenpoint Ave/Queens Blvd and ends around 104th St in Corona.
Rincon Azteca (47-16 Greenpoint Ave/Roosevelt)
One of my standbys for tortas. Good al pastor.
China Poblana (62-29 Roosevelt Ave)
Tacos Veloz (61-17 Roosevelt Ave)
Sharing a building with a tortilleria, this place seems like it could be better. It seems to show some promise as the house matron seems to do all the cooking. After a few visits, I still haven't found that special thing she could provide.
El Mexicano (64-13 Roosevelt Ave)
This place makes the best beans. Whole pintos, smoky and not mushy. Mostly I get tortas to go, or breakfast (huevos rancheros with those good beans). Nothing else seems to standout.
Tierras Mexicanas (65-18 Roosevelt Ave)
The menu is pretty standard, with no real standouts. I posted previously about trying to time my dining with a few of their promising daily specials, notably the "birria estilo Tierras Mexicanos" and the "carnitas Michoacan".
El Mariachi (67-12 Roosevelt Ave
)Only been once. Tacos OK.
Marcia's (71-22 Roosevelt Ave)
WrayB has talked to me about this place. It's a very homey storefront, which appeals to me, like having someone's mom cook for me. However, I've never been.
El Tijuana (71-28 Roosevelt Ave)
Never been. They do have a permanent daily specials sign in the front window that features the nopales (cactus) and camaron (shrimp) torta.
Viva Juarez (73-10 Roosevelt Ave)
Had two lousy experiences here. Really awful huevos rancheros (the ranchero salsa straight from a can--and very salty). Haven't been back in a couple years.
El Poblano (75-13 Roosevelt Ave)
One of my first places that I lauded on the boards. They transformed from a deli counter in a small market to a full-fledge restaurant, and now with a bar. I think they were better during the period of adjusting to their growth. Now they seem to be resting after several phases of renovating. I usually ask what special items are in the steam trays. They have some unusual items, and good pipian pork chops. This is my usual torta place near the Roosevelt station.
Taqueria Coatzingo (76-05 Roosevelt Ave)
This place still seems to have it. However, I've noticed that the guy who was doing the really great cooking is now a manager, and doesn't cook as much any more. There's some inconsistency, but way above average still. Very good al pastor.
Taco Landia (Roosevelt/77th)
This place is like a permanently fixed taco truck. Doesn't go beyond the marginal quality of a taco truck. The only thing I get here is a tongue taco if I'm in the nabe and on the run. But I have to look into the steam tray to make sure they didn't just refill the tray. The tongue is much better if it's been stewing in that red sauce for a while. If you want a bigger meal on the run, the bistec huaraches are enormous and pretty good. If you're not on the run, then go elsewhere. I usually stopped here late night after being disappointed not finding the arepa lady.
--Something Mazatlan-- (Roosevelt 78th)
The main signage is missing, but from what I remember, this place is suppose to specialize in seafood, but the menu doesn't really indicate that. I'm suspicious. Never been.
Viva Zapata (80-14 Roosevelt Ave)
Been twice in the last 3 years. Pretty standard fare. Nothing jumped out at me, but I probably didn't give it a chance.
El Sol Azteca (82-12 Roosevelt Ave)
This place replaced another of the Tulcingo restaurants, which I thought was pretty good. Haven't been since they changed hands.
Taqueria Tulcingo (40-10 83rd St)
This is the place next to the Spanish restaurant, Meson Asturias. Haven't been.
Las Cazuelas II (40-08 Hampton/83rd)
Just opened this month. See comments under Las Cazuelas I.
Tacos Veloz (Roosevelt/86th)
I've always thought this one was one of the better on-the-run taco places. It's a street facing counter.
Las Cazuelas I (86-22 Roosevelt Ave)
This is one of the newer additions to Roosevelt Ave. It shows a lot of promise if only for one thing. There's a handwritten sign in the front window in spanish that says that all the tortillas are handmade. If they take as much care to make handmade tortillas, I'm guessing the other stuff would be pretty good. I'm optimistic.
Tacos al Suadero (87-21 Roosevelt Ave)
I find this al Suadero chain to be pretty reliable. Nothing extremely outstanding, but good quality for the most part.
Mexicana Bakery (88-01 Roosevelt Ave)
Tacos Mexico (88-12 Roosevelt Ave)
Another mini-chain of taquerias in the Roosevelt landscape. Haven't been to any of these.
Plaza Garibaldi I (89-12 Roosevelt Ave)
This place is surprisingly good. From the outside, it looks more like a margarita joint in a college town, but since it's on a predominantly Mexican block on Roosevelt, it makes you think twice. I've avoided it for a while because of it's touristy feel, and I'm kicking myself for it. They recently had pambazos as a special item. Not great, but good enough to get over my craving.
Las Palomas (89-16 Roosevelt Ave)
Tacos al Suadero (37-57 90th St)
This seems to be the newest of the al Suadero joints. It looks as if it has replaced the Thai place known as Friend Thai, but I'm not certain.
Tacos Veloz (90-10 Roosevelt Ave)
Never been to this one.
Vallecita Bakery (40-06 Benham/91st)
On a recent walk-by, it looks like they have fresh baked stuff around the clock. New trays of pan dulce were being placed on the cooling rack in the middle of the shop.
El Azteca (Roosevelt/92nd)
Tacos al Suadero (Roosevelt/94th)--at least that's what it used to be.
They seemed to have expanded the storefront and swallowed up one of the Tacos Veloz places that was right next door. I couldn't see a name of the place, but it used to be the big al Suadero. I've been once a long time ago, and have no lasting memory of it.
Tulcingo Deli 3 (40-10 Junction Blvd)
This is one of the 24-hour places on/just off Roosevelt. They have a good al pastor spit going here. Everything else is pretty standard. Been a few times.
Frontera Chicana (40-42 Junction Blvd)
This place always looked inviting, but I've never been.
Tacos Veloz (95-29 Roosevelt Ave)
This is the one right across from Grano de Oro, which is my regular spot if I'm near Junction Blvd. The only thing cool about this place is that they have stools right on the sidewalk counter.
La Tenampa (96-14 Roosevelt Ave)
I remember a good review from Sylvia Carter from Newsday quite some time ago. Again, as this place is directly across from Grano de Oro, I haven't given it a chance.
Grano de Oro 2000 (96-15 Roosevelt Ave)
One of my favorite taquerias in all of NYC. It has been a while since I've been, so I can't tell if there's anything downhill about it. I'd be very disappointed if so.
Tacos as Suadero (97-22 Roosevelt Ave)
Never been to this one.
Pink Cactus (102-21 Roosevelt Ave)
I thought it was one of the gay bars in Jackson Heights, but I realized I'm way too far in Corona. Can't tell much from its appearance.
Tacos Mexico (41-10 102nd St)
Again, never been to this chain.
La Espiga Cafe (103-02A Roosevelt Ave)
Ever since the La Espiga people concentrated their efforts on this place, they seem to have done a disservice to the bakery and the cafe. This place seems a little too cleaned up for its own good. By that, I mean watered down. I haven't given it a chance, but its opening seems to have affected the stuff at the La Espiga bakery down the street.
Brisas de Acapulco #4 (40-26 National St)
Maria Bonita Cafe (41-07 National St)
This place, along with Marcia's in the 60s, really has that homey feel. This place looks very new, with no signage except for a board outside with specials. I'll probably check this place out soon.
Tulcingo (40-34 National St)
Plaza Guadalupe (37-71 103rd St)
Interesting storefront in the middle of the Dominican section of Corona, north of Roosevelt. It's more like a shack/counter. I'm intrigued.
Rio Bravo (37-82 103rd St)
Another misplaced Mexican restaurant on a heavily Dominican block. Looks OK.
La Espiga Bakery (42-12 102nd St)
As I've mentioned before about La Espiga Cafe, ever since they opened the Cafe, it seems that they haven't used that al pastor spit in the front of the store. In fact, there seems to be very little action at that front counter any more. I've only done several walk-bys to see if the al pastor spit was happening, but not in a while. I should stop in to see what else they have going on in there.
China Poblana #4 (101-10 43rd Ave)
The 2010 Census needs you!
How many blocks make up this Mexican Survey? Are you tempted to hit them all now?
I'm sure there are several omissions, but here's one that I know I missed.
Plaza Garibaldi II (102-16 Roosevelt Ave)
See comments on Plaza Garibaldi I.
I should have also mentioned that the intention of my post was to generate comments on these restaurants, especially the ones I haven't tried. Please chime in.
re: Eric Eto
I just remembered my other omission. There's an antojitos place just off Roosevelt in the 90s -- I scribbled the address, but lost it -- on a diagonal street running into the south side of Roosevelt. I've always been curious about this place, as it has changed from a counter operation in a grocery to a full restaurant. The banner on the awning has come undone where it obscures the name. There's a sign in the front window alerting customers that they are moving down the street into one of the new commercial buildings on Roosevelt (around 92nd?).
Thanks for a fantastic post!! Boy, I thought I had been to a lot of places in Jackson Heights.
My only comment is that I think the Tacos Mexico at 88-12(or is it 16?) Roosevelt Ave. merits a try. It's one of my tops in the area for tacos. I think their beefsteak and al pastor as well as their carne enchilada tacos are excellent. I'd definitely want to know what you think. From reading your post, I know where I'm eating today:Grano de Oro 2000.
Next time, could you put a bit more thought and effort into your posts. Really, you probably didn't even touch EACH AND EVERY place on Roosevelt Ave!
You've outdone yourself with this survey, Eric. I like to be encyclopedic but have yet to come up with anything this detailed or organized. I agree with your comments about Viva Zapata and I haven't tried many of the places on your list. I do not mourn a couple of the ones that disappeared. The Tulcingo between 82nd & 83rd had bad service and indifferent food. IMHO, and the one that seems to have been taken over by the al Suadero at Roosevelt/94th (Jackson Heights side) used to say Veracruz cuisine, and when I ordered a plato de barbacoa, I got unseasoned, boiled goat meat with rice and beans. No pizazz at all. That's the only place I've found this interpretation of barbacoa. The tacos at the place that took it over are good, though. I especially liked the carnitas. I've tried the Tacos Veloz at 95-29 Roosevelt and they were OK though it was interesting to sit outside while getting all messy eating tacos, one step up from a tacomobile.
There are a few things I can add. I have eaten several times in El Azteca at 92nd Street. If I remember correctly, it is about the oldest Mexican place around. The mole poblano wasn't bad, and I like the chips and I think the guacamole, but it feels like some little joint from the California desert or something, all dark and trying to be more upscale than a storefront but now, and for a long time, looking rundown.
I have eaten a number of times at Plaza Garibaldi, but some time ago. I've tried things like chilaquiles and other more complicated dishes and thought it was quite good at the time, but it may have gone downhill. After that I went a number of times to Tacos Mexico, which stays open very late and has good tacos, as Billy attests.
One place I don't think you mentioned is at 94th Street, but on the Elmhurst side. It has serapes on the windows and is pretty big. I passed it today and the only sign I could see was Viva Mexico. I've been wanting to try the pipian they advertise on a handwritten sign. It looks good and cheerful.
Why don't we get some people together for a taco or torta tasting in the upper 80s-low 90s and see what we can find. On a bearable day, though the fruit aguas are tasty in this weather. I volunteer to interpret for anyone who wants to communicate in depth with restaurant staff, although I have no doubt that you can get around in Spanish.