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Coyote Flaco = Coyote Flunko

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So I finally get around to trying Coyote Flaco in Port Chester after hearing so many posters rave about it (not to mention the good Zagat reviews). What a joke.

Anyone that’s read my posts knows I’m a big proponent of “if you can’t handle the easy stuff, do I really trust you with the hard stuff?”

So I order my appetizer. A quesadilla with chicken, jalapenos and tomato, easy on the cheese. What arrives is a soggy tortilla with a cheese mixture containing what looked like melted Kraft American cheese, onions and dried out chicken. Jalapenos, which were reminiscent of Taco Bell, were served on the side with a vinegar carrot medley. Indigestibly and incomprehensibly disgusting.

I later learned the cheese was a muenster & monterrey mixture. Nice. They don’t even know what muenster cheese is in Mexico. I’ll still bet it was Kraft American cheese slices though.

I asked the waiter “do you have any fresh jalapenos?” He pointed to the vinegary jalapeño/carrot mixture and said “right there”. I said no, “fresh jalapeños”. He snarled and walked away. I felt like throwing my chair at him. Man do I hate crappy ignorant service.

By the way, those disgusting vinegary “Taco Bell” jalapenos found their way on the check as an additional charge. Huh?

The simple quesadilla was so bad I couldn’t continue. But I did bang down 4 glasses of chardonnay. Wine was good and at $5 a pop, I would never have complained unless the food wasn’t so crappy.

Now, I know I’m gonna get some slack from posters saying “you judge a place on ordering a single quesadilla?”. “Billy, you’re an ass for not trying something better!” Please spare me. A Mexican restaurant that can’t make a proper quesadilla without Kraft cheese is like a Japanese place that can’t make white rice. It’s not brain surgery.

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  1. Wow, other than Otto's, who passes muster with you?

    But hey, at least you didn't order mashed potatoes at Coyote Flaco.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dolores

      Your assessment is "spot on" Dolores.

      1. re: aspiringchef

        Agreed! Glad your post gets to stay.

    2. A quick search shows dissent about Coyote Flaco-- raves and rants. I've never been, but if your standard for Mexican food is Rosa Mexicano, as you said in another thread, then I won't even bother pointing you to the many helpful, excellent Mexican suggestions Chowhounders have made in other threads.

      1 Reply
      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

        I had eaten several times (several years ago) at the CF in NR. The last time WAS definitely the last time for me- I wanted to call the cops, it was so bad. And then I was told that I went to the "wrong" CF- that Portchester is waaay better. I don't know bc I haven't been, but I am so soured on them at this point that I'll stick with Little Mexican Cafe the next time I want Mexican in Westchester. What does everyone else here think? What about Guadalajara? Los Gemelos? I do not care for Sunset Grille at all, but its possile that I went there after they changed management and well after all of those preliminary positive reviews came out- any other reccos that are up-to-date? Thanks.

      2. O.K, so "The Flaco" as some of call it does have some spotty service and some dishes are better than others, but overall, if you're in the mood to sit outside, not spend a ton of money and have some drinks and food- I think it fits the bill. I LOVE their enchalada Oaxaca w/ the mole sauce!!! I wouldn't call it fine dining, but I don't go in their ready to put them to the test. I feel like that sort of kills any chance of enjoying. I just want to kick back and eat. I always order my favorite things and that's it.

        1. I used to really like Coyote Flaco in Port Chester, but the last time I went a few months ago it was really not good. I ordered a beef dish and it was so tough and full of rind I couldn't chew it. I wondered at the time if the place had gone downhill or it was just a bad night.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Shawn

            Years ago Coyote Flaco was one of our favorite places- I'm talking 10 or 12 years ago. Then it started to go downhill. The last time we were there, maybe a year ago, it didn't even resemble what we used to love. The food was awful. I wish they would return to the old standard. I certainly would not recommend it.

            1. re: debmom

              Debmom, I remember when Coyote Flaco first opened up in the
              late 80's early 90's in PC on Midland Ave. The food was excellent!
              I jokingly nicknamed the place "emaciated" reflecting its translated moniker. The prices were very reasonable, and I remember having some of the best chimichangas and enchiladas this side of the border. Too bad that "emaciated" just isn't the same.

          2. Apparently there is more than one Coyote Flaco? Anyhow, I've only experienced the Port Chester one. It was many years ago and I haven't been back. My experience wasn't as poor as yours, but my general sense was why bother with mediocre mexican when much better is just around the corner?

            About the jalapeños en escabeche (vinegar jalapeños) while most places probably should have fresh, it's really, really common in mexico to have just those in escabeche on hand as condiments. Much more common than just having fresh whole or fresh chopped jalapeños. Just thought I'd throw that out.

            Also, on the cheese, you are right that muenster cheese (nor monterrey jack for that matter) aren't really what you find in mexico. However, both do fairly resemble certain cheeses that you DO find in mexico. A fairly sizeable mennonite population introduced some interesting cheese making methods to northern mexico in the 19th century. Perhaps the closest substitute for Queso asadera is muenster. Jack, though the flavor is incredibly bland, has the melting qualities of asadera (or even oaxacan cheeses) as well. So, if they didn't want to splurge on real mexican cheeses, which can be found in varying quality around here, I suppose monterrey and muenster aren't such terrible substitutes. Plus, if your quesadillas were with flour tortillas, which are the sole domain of a few states in Northern Mexico, then queso chihuahua and queso asadera would be the most likely choices. So their substitutes weren't that far off.

            Now, of course, none of that excuses poor food, which is what you experienced. Just goes to show that ingredients are only half the equation when it comes to ensuring good food! Just some random thoughts.

            - Adam

            22 Replies
            1. re: adamclyde

              The bad part about cutting corners with something as simple as jalapeños is that now when you ask for a dish with jalapenos, you have vinegar added to the ingredient list. Something about vinegar and cheese just tastes weird.

              There's another place in Bronxville (Westchester) called Blue Moon Mexican that serves the same jalapenos, except theirs are identical to Taco Bell. When I asked the manager how come they don't have fresh jalapenos, she said "our customers don't really know the difference". That's crazy. That approach to food is why the place is so bad.

              Getting back to the cheese thing though. That's what they advertised was in the dish (according to the website). But it tasted and had the texture of that cheese you squirt from a can. It left the tortillas in a state of gooey mess.

              There’s another post that was just stared that poses the question “Do you share the sentiments of some on this site that think that every taco has to be authentic as they make it in Mexico?” Post is here:

              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/434260

              I’d like to answer that with a definitive yes. I would like to know that a Mexican restaurant is serving tacos like they would be served in Mexico. If it’s tex-mex, then I be aware that they’re “fusing” American influence into the dishes (and I’ll ask more questions).

              Another “Americanized” habit is sprinkling cheese on top of beans. It’s like automatically throwing cheese on top of a burger. Not everyone is a cheese fan. Guess that’s tex-mex too.

              1. re: billyparsons

                I will repeat my question, as you have appeared to miss it.

                Of which restaurants in Westchester does billyparsons approve?

                1. re: billyparsons

                  are you saying the jalapenos in escabeche were bad, or just that they weren't whole fresh jalapenos? If I'm understanding correctly, jalapeños en escabeche isn't cutting corners at all - it's exactly how most condiment jalapeños are served. in mexico and here.

                  On the cheese stuff, yeah, I agree. Even good cheese can be cooked poorly

                  In this part of the country, authentic mexican food is really just starting to take hold. So you see a spectrum of places, from the very americanized combo plate kind of places to the pretty darn authentic. For the most part, the most authentic and tasty places at the moment are taquerias. I'm guessing that as immigration continues, we'll see more regionalized food, and a broader range of food and restaurants. The point here is, no need to frequent the poor places, let's go to the good ones. There are some good threads on mexican food in these parts. Search for mexican in port chester as well as new rochelle. Those two cities have the best concentration of mexican food in the area. (little mexican cafe, mexican corner restaurant, tacos michoacano are my faves in NR, and los gemelos, paleteria fernandez, el kiosko are among my faves in Port Chester).

                  good luck and hopefully we'll hear about some places you've found.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    You bring up great point. But yea, they weren’t all that good. I just like my food spicy and without being able to incorporate the jalapenos directly into the dish, I can't get that authentic spicy Mexican flavor. Fresh jalapenos are just too inexpensive to not have a few to offer.

                    To me it’s analogous to an authentic Italian restaurant having preserved garlic (those big jars of chopped up garlic turning yellow) in lieu of chopping it themselves. I see that debauchery in Florida all too much.

                    Thanks for the great info on your post though.

                    1. re: billyparsons

                      "They don’t even know what muenster cheese is in Mexico..."

                      That kind of statement can be easily misinterpreted...

                      1. re: Scotty100

                        OK so let me change it to "they don't use it in Mexico". Feel better now? I'm cool with that too. By the way, are you cool with that stuff on your pizza? I think it’s a sly technique to cut food cost. But if you like it, whatever.

                    2. re: adamclyde

                      As always, great info Adam. Thanks for both of your posts here. While I did know that jalapenos in escabeche are common in Mexico, your cheese and historical info was really interesting. I have limited personal knowledge and experience with the regional variations as much of my travel in Mexico has been limited to business and mostly Mexico City although I did have the good fortune to dine around with locals there.

                      Your input here is very valuable to me. It's nice to have such an informed and courteous chowhound in our little tristate community. You are definitely my "go to" source for Latin food recs - and other stuff too.

                      btw, I still haven't gotten to El Kiosko for those sopes but have finally noticed where it is. What's the atmosphere like in there? Similar to Gemelos or no?

                      1. re: laylag

                        el kiosko is probably more plain, but it isn't divey at all. If that makes any sort of sense. It could double as a mexican place or a neighborhood restaurant in any small american town. Pretty generic in ambiance. But that's no problem for me. I just like the food.

                        Kiosko's food is really inconsistent, I think. Tacos aren't very good there. Huaraches are pretty good, but mostly because you can't get them anywhere around here unless you go to red hook in brooklyn. Other stuff like that is cool. Don't expect amazing mexican, but it's a step above the average places. And, oddly, you'll see some random non mexican stuff on the menus there too. just their thing, I guess.

                      2. re: adamclyde

                        I'd like to echo laylag's sentiments. Thanks, adamclyde, for being so courteous and generous with your knowledge on various food topics, including Mexican. I think los gemelos will have to be the destination of my next Westchester Mexican outing, as I have been tying to figure out if it was still "in favor", and I see its on your list!

                        1. re: vvvindaloo

                          Ditto, thanks Adamclyde for always being so helpful! I still owe you a review of Rina's which is where I ended up eating when I had lunch in Greenwich a few weeks back!

                          1. re: SweetPea914

                            Consider yourself thrice thanked adamclyde for your excellent reviews and courteous responses.

                          2. re: vvvindaloo

                            los gemelos was really at its peak 5 or 6 years ago. It went downhill just slightly a while ago, but then it got better again about a year ago. Who knows. I still find it to be the most consistently good mexican food anywhere around. so do go and give it a try!

                            1. re: adamclyde

                              Oh, I will. And I appreciate your honest opinion. BTW, have you ever tried Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights? Incredible experience, like being transported to a neighborhood favorite in the outskirts of Puebla . I highly recommend it for carnitas, and al pastor, which seem to be major topics of discussion among Westcherites! Thanks again.

                              1. re: vvvindaloo

                                yes, I have. After my beloved dodgers lost to the mets last year in the playoffs last year, I finally made it over there for a midnight snack. Unfortunately, the spit wasn't running, but the al pastor was still good.

                                Since I'm going to be at Shea again tonight, maybe I need a repeat visit... hmm.... If so, I'll report on the outer boroughs. stay tuned.

                                1. re: adamclyde

                                  A Dodger fan really? Oh, you have let me down Adamclyde. But then again, I'm a Yankee fan so Dodgers, Mets an equal thumbs down. However I will say the food options at Shea aren't as bad as Yankee Stadium - haven't been to Dodger Stadium yet.

                                  1. re: laylag

                                    Oh Adam and Laylag, I know I'm totally going off topic,and I'm sure this will be deleted, but I am a Yankee fan, my husband...a Red Sox fan. He claims that around here Dodger and Mets fans are defacto Red Sox fans, when the two are playing. Nearly every October the words divorce/annulment are thrown around :-)
                                    If you ever want a decent meal near Yankee stadium, before or after the game, I highly recommend G-Bar/Giovanni's.
                                    http://giovanninyc.com/giovanni/media...
                                    They have valet parking and we go here often for happy hour. The penne ala vodka w/ chicken is really great!

                                    1. re: SweetPea914

                                      My husband is a former Orioles fan converted to a Mets fan so I sympathize although a Sox fan has got to be tough to live with!! It's heck at our home during certain games too - especially in the fall. That said, the food at Camden Yards is quite good. Next game at Yankee Stadium we'll have to try Giovanni's. If we get zapped - oh well. I've been deleted a lot here lately - getting used to it.

                                      1. re: laylag

                                        Laylag...

                                        Crud… I just realized the post I was responded to was gone.

                                        I'm gonna’ take it down a notch cause it's obviously me that they're watching. Any more and I can guarantee this post is gone too. I apologize for the mess. I love discussion, not mayhem.

                                      2. re: SweetPea914

                                        G-Bar! The only really nice bar you can sit at and say "give me a slice". No one knows about Gbar. It's the Tosca crew. Great friggin’ brunch. We should start a thread but, uh, know what, rather not. It's too crowded already.

                                        1. re: billyparsons

                                          crowded? Have you been at 5pm on a Fri? Nothing but cops and teachers (myself included). All looking to put the week past us with a good cervesa or martini!

                                          1. re: SweetPea914

                                            Ok so stop going. But next time you're there, steal me the cool plants from the front of the G-Bar entrance. That place is hot. You like the pizza though? I have mixed feelings.

                                            1. re: billyparsons

                                              We only get the pizza when we all want a little something (I'm usually there with a crew of 10 or so) I'm more of a thin crust, easy on the toppings type of person. Pintaile's in the city is my favorite! I prefer G-bar's pasta dishes. The last time I was there (June) my 2 faves were lacking. I work with a few vegetarians so we always get the zuchinni sticks and the cheesy garlic bread. Not Haute Cuisine, but usually quite yummy. This night however something was off with both items. As I said earlier the penne ala vodka with chicken is great. I tried it once with shrimp, and it just wasn't the same. It has to be with chicken!

                      3. Sorry, no tex-mex here. Homemade. The crabmeat rellenos are fantatic. Absolutely the best mole around. I have been going since it opened (when this was the only one). Try it again. Dont' drink wine, try a flaco 'rita!

                        1. The name alone is enough to make me want to steer clear of this joint! Skinny Coyote? WTF! Who wants to eat there? Them flunkos must have been drunkos when they came up with that 'nombre estupido'. 4getaboutit!

                          1. Ate at Coyote Flaco in Fairfield/Bridgeport the other night and was quite pleasantly pleased.

                            Everything was good.

                            Service was very friendly - the owner of this location was working the room - and the atmosphere was very homey.

                            Ordered sangrias and instead of telling us they were out of the ingredients, it just took a little longer until the owner was walking back through the door with some fresh fruit, followed by yummy drinks.

                            Chips were very good - not homemade but from a tortilla factory in Middletown that delivers fresh 2x per week. Salsa fresh and a good mix of ingredients.

                            And, I was so happy they had normal chairs and not those awful cheap wedding hall chairs that all the other Mexican places around seem to have.

                            A very nice little place overall. Will return.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MasterofLightChick

                              I must say that my husband and I had stayed away from the Flaco in Port Chester for a while, because it had gotten really gross. But, this past weekend, we gave it another shot and it was really good again!
                              The place has a fresh coat of paint, the waitstaff had fresh shirts on and the food was really quite good!
                              I ordered the Oaxaca Enchilada and it was great! The mole sauce was excellent and the chicken and veggies inside were cooked perfectly. My husband ordered the combo fajitas and even he commented that the steak portion- usually dried up and overcooked- was enjoyable. We had ordered shrimp tacos as an app. but they brought them with dinner instead. By the time I pulled away from my dinner, they were cold. So, I didn't love them, but my husband said they were good when they were hot.
                              My husband and I were really surprised and will now certainly go back.

                            2. I have eaten at Coyote Flaco several times and although none of the experiences have been memorable, the food has been pleasant enough, that is, until my most recent outing. As an entree I ordered the Coyote Fajita's; the food was late to arrive, not sizzling, and covered in sauce. The chicken was tough, chewy, and not doubt left over. The vegetables were mushy, overcooked, and to find any taste you had to smack your tongue against your palate quite hard. The guacamole was limey, salty, and oniony - not in a good way. It was one of those meals that should have been returned to the kitchen with a 'basura' note attached to it so that the cook (certainly not a chef) would be made aware that food like that belongs in the garbage. If any one plans to dine at this restaurant, stay away from anything that does not entail a stuffed tortilla. Don't restaurants know that it's better to serve no food than to serve lousy food! Anyone know when Sunset Grille in WP will open again?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FoodieRookie

                                Hopefully soon, FoodieRookie. If I know more, I'll keep you updated.

                                I was never overwhelmed by CF. They seemed a decent takeout place, but now that there are SO many others in PC and NR, not so much.