Roosevelt Ave Mexican Survey
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)
"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."
i was quite sad when they closed recently, as they are around the corner from me. the tacos were decent. the beans were wonderful. i loved the breakfast plates with the beans and the soft-fried (part pan-fried and part steamed i guess) french fries.
we're completely addicted to the carnitas in salsa verde at Taqueria Coatzingo though, so we usually take the 10-15 minute walk up to JH for that.
It's always good to see this classic. New readers please note that some of these places have closed or changed over the years. And it doesn't attempt to cover the taco trucks. Just to add... here's my non-taco review of Coatzingo. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/247808 Tulcinco on National St is also very good.
Hokay. I had to print this out to get a grasp. What is scary is that I think you have missed a few places. First I'll comment where I have something to add.
The Tacos Veloz at 61st is fairly good. I used to eat breakfast there on Saturday mornings after going to the post office. One of the better dishes I've had from there were the flautas. I haven't been in the last 6 months or so. On those Saturday mornings I've never seen the matron you refer to. Since they share the building with the tortilla factory, the aroma does add to the atmosphere.
At Marcia's (71-22 Roosevelt) I ate posole a few times last winter. It was pretty good and the pork was better than what I've had at several other places along Roosevelt. The posole isn't offered any more, perhaps because of the change in season. Their menu is very small, mostly sandwiches, but not tortas. I didn't see anything else appealing on the menu and haven't been back. I could well be missing something here.
El Tijuana (71-28 Roosevelt) is an enigma to me. Rarely see many people there. Signage says they spealize in seafood, but I am fearful of freshness based on small volume. I've had tacos and sopas there which were fine, nothing special. A pork adobo which was falling apart tender pork in a dark spicy gravy that was very good. The juke box and tv are often both on and both pretty loud. The volume is loud enough to diminish my interest.
So I more often walk the couple of blocks to El Poblano (75-13 Roosevelt) which I am more and more preferring over Taqueria Coatzingo (76-05 Roosevelt Ave). I've had meat that is a bit old/off from TC a couple of times. Yes these are inexpensive neighborhood places, but I feel I can rely more on El Poblano. El Poblano does have a full bar and that can sometimes dominate the atmosphere. Nothing too rowdy, but still it can feel like more of a bar than a restaurant. Jukebox/tv combo can be a bit loud at both places, but not so overwhelming loud at it can be at El Tijuana. I haven't been since the smoking ban has been in effect, but previously at El Poblano they had it so that only the 4 or 5 tables closest to the door are non-smoking. As a non-smoker I stopped going on late weekend nights.
Oh, back to the food: based on my experience El Poblano's tortas are much tastier than TC's.
The "Something Mazatlan" (Roosevelt/78th) place has had a name change and expansion of menu. I went to the prior Mazatlan incarnation and couldn't find anything memorable. Definitely feel the location needs reevaluation. I think it is new management, based on sidewalk observation, not inside information.
There are a few more on your list that I have visited a few times. To reframe your comment on Viva Zapata, nothing jumped out at me, there might be something of interest there, I'd be interested in trying it again.
The one place you've repeatedly recommended and I have still yet to try is Grano de Oro 2000 (96-15 Roosevelt Ave). Anyone know how late they stay open?
OK, after reading all that yesterday when I got off work at midnight you know I had to go eat at one of the Mexican places on Roosevelt.
So, El Poblano, around 1am, no smoking, tv and jukebox going strong but not (to me) unbearable. Tortas and horchata top notch. I had al pastor. My son had carne asada. His eyes opened wide with delight as he bit into his. (At my suggestion, he had had a so-so torta with bad tasting meat a couple of weeks ago at Taqueria Coatzingo and was very leery at my suggesting he have a torta again). Now he will gladly eschew fast food for an El Poblano torta today.
I hope other people add their comments and suggestions for eating at Mexican Restaurants along Roosevelt Avenue. It would be cool to build a nice cache of chow info onto Eric's great list.
I'm a regular at T.C. and almost always get taco al pastor.I've never had anything close to a bad meal. Was the "bad meat" al pastor? I love the soft taco style so I have never had the torta, what do they put on it?. The best way to enjoy the al pator at T.C. is in a chalupa with the crumbled cheese, drizzle of crema and red sauce. Your description of the pork adobo makes my mouth water, I will be trying that very soon. I have always passed on poblano because it looks so dark and bar like, despite the kitchen visable through the front window. Now I have a reason to give it a try.
bumping this exhaustive post...
Any news about the place on 61st just off Roosevelt next to Sweet Basil (used to be Khao Homm) and the indian place accross the street from the Post Office? Is that the Tacos Veloz you're talking about or has it changed names/owners since 2003? It's kind of half market/half restaraunt...
What is now La Hacienda is what used to be Tacos Veloz (the place attached to the tortilleria). The place on 61st next to Sweet Basil is called El Tequilero, and it's pretty decent. I've tried a few things, but not too extensively. I'm hoping to find what their specialties might be. I had higher hopes for La Frontera which opened recently at Roosevelt and 64th (they call themselves a steakhouse, so I thought the carne asada would show promise), but it was pretty bad. I much prefer El Paso directly across the street. El Paso was much better early on when they were trying to distinguish themselves from the other Mexican joints, but they seem to have given up on that and become just another clone of the other places. Same with Tierras Mexicanas near 65th.
re: E Eto
Always empty is right. Even when it was the ill fated China Poblana. I'm kind of afraid to go in there. Although the bar does look like a decent place to have a drink around Woodside. Now they're mixing their menu with Ecuadorian items (like La Hacienda has done). I'm not sure if that's to draw in the local Ecuadorians, or if there's new Ecuadorian partnerships forming. Either way, their days seem numbered.
re: E Eto
I've taken the plunge and found it to be about the worst Mexican in the area -- dried out beef, "salsa" with an almost Hunt's-like quality and canned-tasting beans. The bar vibe isn't terribly pleasant either -- sort of a working-class Latin take on an annoying frat-boy hang, plenty of excess testosterone on display and plenty of waitresses hired for the sole purpose of soaking it up.
re: david sprague
It seems like the competition is so fierce in the area and there are so many options, that regardless of quality, it just depresses me to see these places open and close. But quality-wise, It's suprising how many places don't seem to make the effort. I thought it was great that Tamal opened that corner grill on Roosevelt, but the one taco I had there was really nothing special.
Anyone spotted good tacos in the area? The new taco truck on 65th really sucks. If anyone knows where the former truck/owners went, I'd be forever grateful too! I also spotted a new smallish taco truck 2 weeks ago on Roosevelt and 63rd - anyone tried them? It was very late Sunday night, if that helps.
re: E Eto
I wish you were right. That truck is the closest place for a quick bite, and I've tried a taco once every few months just to see if it's got game, but they were always among the worst versions of tacos I've had on Roosevelt. It wasn't even worth mentioning on the original post. I was ecstatic when the El Fogoncito truck parked for a while on 63rd a few years ago, but it disappeared soon after I posted about it. I just walk 15 minutes to Jackson Heights for tacos.
re: E Eto
anyone ate at the ecuadorian trucks that are parked around roosevelt and close to junction avenue? I rode by almost all of these places last night but there were so many choices, I didn't know where to go. or rather, so many Taco Veloz that I got confused, and just gave it up, thought I'd hit up CH for some thoughts.
and speaking of which, anyone ever eaten at the ecuadorian cart during the day that's parked on roosevelt ave, near the 82nd street subway? last time I walked by they could've assembled a plata de bandeja; they had llapingachos, what looked like roast suckling pig, tamales, and a whole bunch of stuff, all from a standard cart. but no takers, I was a bit suspicious. ended up with the $1 tamales across roosevelt.
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.
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.
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?).