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My Sunset Deli love affair continues - oaxacan tamales!

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So, I've written about this place a few times (notably, here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/468221 ) Since then, I've been going there at least once a week for lunch. And I've yet to be disappointed. This kind of consistency is rare in mexican places around there parts, I think. It isn't always amazing, but it is always very good, if you order the right things.

My latest find? They sell tamales oaxaquenos! As far as I know, this is the only place I've found outside of Brooklyn or Queens that sells oaxaquenos (there are the delicious tamales with a soft almost spoonable masa and meat, wrapped in banana leaves). Unfortunately, these aren't made with mole negro, like my favorite oaxaquenos are, but hey, at least they have them. And they were pretty good. I won't pretend that these are the best oaxacan tamales I've ever had, but just the fact that they sell them puts this place in a different category altogether. I can't remember what other tamales they have, I haven't tried them yet, but I believe they also had rajas con queso, chicken and pork.

Anyhow, for anyone willing to venture there, here's my summary of what to order:

Tacos
* Cochinita Pibil. (achiote paste rubbed pork shoulder, roasted in banana leaves). I've only seen them there twice in the 10 or so times I've been there, but if they have them, DEFINITELY get them. Awesome.
* Al pastor. It's thin, deep-red chile/adobo marinated pork that is roasted on a vertical spit. It's accompanied with pineapple. Very good.
* Asada. Tasty beef, accompanied either by guacamole or sliced avocado, depending on the day. Good.
* Carnitas. Quite good, though not as good as Los Gemelos in Port Chester or Michoacano in New Rochelle.
* Chorizo. This was just OK in my opinion. Could be better.
* Pollo. Also just OK, but it depends on what kind of chicken they've made that day.

Other goodies
* Quesadilla con huitlacoche. Quesadilla made with corn masa, filled with oaxacan cheese (i think at least) and that wonderful inky black huitlacoche. I don't know of another place around that sells anything with huitlacoche (the black truffle-like fungus that grows on corn).
* Albondigas. Mexican meatballs in a rich chipotle-based broth. Excellent. These are the traditional mexican meatballs - with rice and hard boiled egg. Very satisfying on a cold day.
* Oaxacan tamales. See above, but these are a treat. They aren't superb, but they are the only ones to be found anywhere outside of brooklyn and queens.
* Huaraches. Their huaraches are good, but not as great as some of the other foods there.
* Tortas. These too are good. I like their carnitas torta, but, like the carnitas tacos, I think you can find better tortas around. But still very good.

Salsa
This comes with anything you buy, but their house salsa is a great smoky chipotle salsa. Awesome stuff with deep flavor. Got some kick, but not overwhelming and lots of complexity. Great with everything they sell.

Here's the address:

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Sunshine Deli
31 Lake St, White Plains, NY 10603

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  1. i'm pretty certain some of the places in poughkeepsie sell them in the banana leaves as well...but then again, poughkeepsie has a growing oaxacan and poblano community...

    i do know (definitely) that some of them do have huitlacoche, as i've had it in quesadilla...

    but it's good to know that other areas have them as well!

    4 Replies
    1. re: bob gaj

      I've heard poughkeepsie has good mexican. Man, I need to find a reason to get there.

      Do any of the places do the traditional oaxacan moles, like negro, amarillo, coloradito, etc.?

      that's very cool.

      1. re: adamclyde

        well, if you're looking for a reason to get to poughkeepsie, hyde park offers a few good reasons to come up this way - c.i.a., roosevelt museum, vanderbilt ground - and wine festival is up in rhinebeck in september...

        i'm not too familiar with the moles, and couldn't even begin to differentiate between them (other than knowing the english translation on some) - i'm guessing it's only because i haven't had *good* moles.

        if you come up looking for mexican, do NOT go to mole mole. it's great light fast tex-mex, and we go periodically, but it's not what you're looking for. head on main st and check out la cabanita, los compadres, but the one which blows the other two away is called cinco de mayo 2 buildings in from main on academy.

        here's my review of it:
        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/423078

        and the 'hua' was the huarache.

        1. re: bob gaj

          I'm glad you reposted the link to that review of cinco de mayo. I remember reading it... but now with what you just said... I definitely need to find a reason to be in poughkeepsie. My company has some stuff going on up there... I should find an excuse...

          How was the squash/pumpkin blossom quesadilla? It's one of my favorite things! I would imagine they only have it in summer...

          and how was that quesadilla with huitlacoche?

          1. re: adamclyde

            i'd like to answer, but i have a terrible memory unless something completely blows me away (like some dishes at the real innovative restaurants). but the only negative impression i remember of cinco de mayo was the nachos (which i don't care about, honestly) so they must have been good.

    2. Ah Adam, sounds soooo good. When I'm ready to bend, or for Mexican I'd say totally break, my New Year's resolution, I am so totally there. Is their pastor as good or better than Mexican Cafe's when they have their spit on?

      9 Replies
      1. re: laylag

        laylag, how could you possibly have a new years resolution against mexican food? That's a travesty! :)

        Anyhow, because I never seem to go to mexican cafe when their spit is running, I'd definitely give sunshine deli the nod. My only complaint is every once in a while it's a little to salty, but they do a good, consistent job with their al pastor. And the pineapple, of course, just makes it the perfect balance.

        1. re: adamclyde

          : )

          On Mexican Cafe - that's why I stopped going. First time pastor was right off the spit and wonderful, after that it was reheated and tough and kind of chunky not thinkly sliced. In fact, after the first time and the pastor and some of the best pozole ever it never achieved the same level of deliciousness so we more frequently go to Mexican Corner. I still love the food at Los Gemelos in PC but it's just so uncomfortable to sit in those bizarrely sized booths and awful lawn chairs.

          I'm still trying to find great, authentic, reasonably priced Mexican food in a setting that one can go with other couples and have a comfortable, leisurely dinner with drinks, etc. If you have any thoughts on that I'd love to hear them - and don't say Sunset Grille - it's not as good imo as some people think it is.

          1. re: laylag

            laylag - that's precisely the kind of mexican place I have been looking for. Somewhere to go with friends in exactly the kind of atmosphere you mention. I can't stand how most of the Mexican places around have those nasty reception hall chairs and zero ambience, actually negative ambience. Part of eating out, IMO, is to have some type of interesting atmosphere, even if it's over the top Mexican kitschy. I'm done with going to Portchester as those places are like eating in a cafeteria. Adamclyde mentioned a place in New Rochelle, I believe, that seems promising. And, there's been some good talk about a place down in Milford - Ola Cafe.

            1. re: MasterofLightChick

              that place in new rochelle is La Herradura. Give it a try.

              My problem is that I couldn't care less about ambiance. All I care about is the taste of the tacos... so I need to temper my enthusiasm about some of these places in case folks are looking for ambiance. Sunshine Deli has great tasting tacos. But zero ambiance. It's a lunch style deli place. Plastic chairs, card tables with plastic tablecloths. But amazing tacos.

              La Herradura has comfortable chairs, nicely painted walls and is decorated like mexican ranchera style. I've still only been there once, but I still think about those tacos often. They've got two styles of tacos. Herradura style and regular style. I think "herradura" style for them means grilled. It's about a dollar more for them, but I think it's totally worth it. The beef was grilled and the tortillas were handmade. The salsas that came with the tacos were very good (though the salsa that came with the chips at the beginning was not).

              I don't know how their regular entrees are. But I'm guessing that based on the tacos, the rest should be good. I hope so. I hope someone gets a chance to head over there soon and check it out as I don't know when I'll be down there again soon...

              1. re: adamclyde

                hey adam you seem to be the taco expert up in here...have you ever tried tacos de tripita, not sure what they are but they are delectably crunchy and haven't found them anywhere in ny, let alone westchester. I always get them at my favorite taco truck when visiting LA

                1. re: RawTunaFan

                  I agree, they are good. As to what they are... it sort of depends. Although it sounds like tripe, it really isn't tripe like you and I know it. (they use that kind of tripe in menudo, though). In most taco application, tacos de tripa are intestines (though I've heard it's more likely cow udder).

                  I have never ordered them out here, but I'm almost positive I've seen them on the menu in some places. I'll dig around and check it out.

                2. re: adamclyde

                  Good rec Adam - took some steak tacos home from Herradura once and they were very good and now that you mention it, you're right - it's probably the best I'm going to find for an evening out with friends re: atmosphere. Generally, when going just for the sake of the food we don't care about atmosphere either but when you plan an - evening out - you want to be able to sit somewhere, spend several hours talking and eating... and drinking and you just can't do it pleasurably in most of the fabulously delicious hole-in-the-wall joints. We just need to have both options available.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    Hey Adam, Quick note - finally tried Herradura - you are right on as far as the steak taco - it was delicious although they didn't serve us any different salsa for that so we only had the one on the table which was awful. Daughter's chicken taco was decent as was her specially made request with carne molido. A chicken mexican quesadilla was tasty but the rest of the food was meh. My huarache was less than average and my husbands Mexican Steak platter was destroyed by the sauce that was supposed to be chipolte based but tasted like bad canned tomato sauce - sort of like the table salsa. Rice and beans served with were not very tasty. We'd go again for tacos but probably nothing else

                    Oh, by the way, I asked if there were other salsas but our waitress said no. Maybe I didn't know the secret password : )

                    1. re: laylag

                      how strange! Well, that's good to know... their three salsas were really good that time I went.

                      And also surprising that it's sounding like I tried one of the only things worth trying there! But man, that steak taco was sure good!

                      Were the tortillas hand made?

          2. Thanks for the insightful post......La Onda in the Bronx, on Bronx Park East occasionally has the oaxacan tamales, with mole. The carnitas there are also a force to be reckoned with!

            1 Reply
            1. re: RawTunaFan

              just wrote about these at a tamale vendor on the street, 138th street between willis avenue and 3rd ave. really good. monsters at $2.

            2. they also make great oaxacan tamales at la mexicana in norwalk.......i think they're pretty damn good......my girlfriend, who is from socal thinks they are too.......however i haven't tried the one in white plains yet so i can't compare.......