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Casa de Elian--new Mexican on Metropolitan

cmoore618 Jun 3, 2008 11:19 AM

Given my perpetual search for new and better Mexican in my neighborhood, I was very excited to see this little restaurant open at 104-20 Metropolitan Avenue. The menu is small, as is its space of only about 12 rustic tables-for-two (plus a not-yet-licensed bar), but what I sampled was fresh and delicious. For lunch yesterday I ordered an elote asado to start--fantastic! The corn was perfectly roasted with nice little charred bits, lovingly coated in melted butter (instead of mayo) and generously coated with cojita, cilantro, and chili powder. A squeeze of lime and I was in heaven. The tortilla chips seemed homemade--warm and cut into uneven strips--and the spicy salsa brought me right back to my southwest roadtrip last summer (not a pico de gallo syle but a pureed tomato base with a hint of chipotle smokiness). My significant other loved the pastor tacos--here, rubbed with adobo and folded with chunks of pineapple. I enjoyed the marisco taco--the seafood was tender and well seasoned in a light tomato sauce. The best part is that this taco truck quality food (and as Chowhounds know, that is a compliment), although served in a brick-and-morter restaurant (in Forest Hills no less) has retained its taco truck prices--only $2 for each taco ($3 for the marisco). I was a bit disappointed that there was only one of the fresh tortillas on each taco--not the two I'm accustomed to--which I can see getting soggy if carried home instead of eaten on the spot. My salad was delicious, but not what I expected from the menu--I ordered the ensalata de aguacate which was described as sliced avocado and hearts of palm over guacamole pasted romaine, but came instead as romaine tossed with cucumbers and guacamole, with a side of vinaigrette. The guacamole was fantastic, so I just ate it scooped onto those awesome tortilla chips instead of as a forked entree. Perhaps they are still re-working the menu (which also includes soups, tortas, gorditas, and assorted tacos). Go and enjoy!

  1. s
    shopgirl76 Sep 14, 2008 05:58 PM

    We ate here sat. nite for the first time. Since FH was in need of a great and affordable mexican restaurant I've been wanting to try to this place for a while now, but was scared off by the reviews on here regarding the chairs. I have a really bad back and just had surgery this spring. But guess what? I was fine, I sat on the booth side and was as comfortable as I ever am and my husband was fine in the chair. Anyway the food was pretty good, the chips were great and fresh, the soup was very flavorful, the tacos were yummy, the only downfall was the encilladas which had a great flavor but the chicken was very dry. It was fun to BYOB and made the whole meal pretty cheap. I would definately give it another try. Also, I just wanted to say how impressed we were with the owner. I guess the waiter/s were a no show on sat. so he was the host/busboy/waiter all by himslf. Even with a full house and only him the service was good. So congrats to you for doing it all! Well done and good luck with your new place!

    1. l
      liqdstar Jul 30, 2008 04:08 PM

      I've tried this place twice. I agree with the comments regarding the space- the chairs are terribly uncomfortable.

      The corn is good, and the taco trio is amazing! The chicken with mole sauce is prob one of the best mole sauces I've had.
      Now the bad- we went in on a night where they were serving steak as a special. the steak was awful! It wasn't the flavoring, it was just a very bad piece of meat! In all honesty, the worst beef I've had in a long while!
      Also, I agree that a vegetarian entree is needed.

      Lastly, the flan is absolute amazing- Its so good, its well worth the calories!

      1. p
        parungaj Jun 18, 2008 04:17 PM

        Just went in and excited to try "real" Mexican food for once. I'm originally from San Diego and searching for home food in NYC and have been severely disappointed. Can I suggest a possible menu item that was a hit is Los Angeles and San Diego? I love carne asada burrito, carne asada fries and california burrito (burrito with shrimp in it). I was hoping to see it on the menu and was kinda sad. Looking forward to the ceviche.

        3 Replies
        1. re: parungaj
          w
          Widmark Jun 18, 2008 11:43 PM

          I'm under the impression that most of the real mexican food in NY is from regions different then the mexican food you get in southern california.

          1. re: Widmark
            squid kun Jun 19, 2008 12:39 AM

            But if Casa de Elian adds dishes like Veracruz-style fish, as the owner hints above, then it offers the prospect of real Mexican food different from what we get in New York.

            1. re: squid kun
              d
              DAVIDSAMPAYO Aug 21, 2008 04:05 PM

              I've learned over the last few months since opening that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone. What some love a few despise and viceversa. In an attempt to dispel a few inaccurate statements, however, I am submitting our updated menu. Should the attachment not be accessible, I ask that a system administrator resolve the issue. Thank you.

        2. n
          NYMike Jun 8, 2008 05:48 PM

          I have to agree with the reviews for the food and service. The roasted corn was awesomely flavored and spicy. Guacamole was fresh and flavorful and the chips freshly made. The service was very attentive.

          The decor is mix of modern along with rustic, especially with the tables and chairs that may be TOO rustic. The wood they use seems to have many splinters coming out of it and an odd staple sticking out. It reminds me of the wood that was used for old wood crates. The wood is very porous and I could see food eventually staining the lightly colors tables. If the furniture can't be changed, I think some table cloths and cushions would go a long way to protecting the customers and making the experience more enjoyable.

          Don't let my furniture criticism deter you from trying this place. I think the food is great and will get better with more choices once people start frequenting this place.

          2 Replies
          1. re: NYMike
            janie Jun 8, 2008 06:19 PM

            Is it baby friendly? (outside of the aforementioned possiblity of needing tweezers?)...My husband ran in there the other day to grab a menu, and it was sparse at best, and much pricier than De Mole. How does it compare to De Mole?

            1. re: janie
              d
              DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 9, 2008 02:10 PM

              The tables and chairs definitely need finishing. We are actually staining and coating the remaining tables and chairs tonight. Hopefully the furniture will dry by Wednesday evening for dinner. I definitely was uneasy about deciding to go with the rustic furniture, but I think once its finished, the furniture will nicely compliment the theme I am trying to convey. As for the "sparse" menu options.....I agree we still have to add a few vegeterian options to the menu, but overall I believe our menu to be aptly dispersed within the Mexican cuisine. I do anticipate having nightly specials once we have adjusted to the infinite intricacies that surface in a new restaurant. I will have to go out and try De Mole to see if an apples to apples comparison is being made. Goodbye for now.....and keep the comments coming! Thanks.

          2. The Chowhound Team Jun 8, 2008 05:40 PM

            We've updated Casa de Elian's Place page with hours and phone number.

            -----
            Casa de Elian
            104-20 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375

            1. GlendaleGal Jun 8, 2008 06:20 AM

              Ate here last night & can totally recommend it...food was delicious! Guacamole tasty with fresh cilantro, portion large; 3 taco appetizer, seafood, beef, chicken- yum. DH had chicken mole, subtle flavoring, moist chicken, said it was the best he'd ever tasted. Friend & I each had chicken enchiladas in tomatillo sauce- moist chicken , tortillas melted in your mouth, sauce had the right kick to it! Think that the apps were $7 each & mains were $14. Brought our own wine-no liquor license yet. Service was delightful, water refilled without asking, brought more chips & a little more guac, wound up with an extra taco. Theo & David answered all questions thoughtfully. The restaurant is bright & clean. Menu is limited while they are new, with plans to add other items. They really want this to work. We will be back. You should give them a try!

              1. m
                micheal Jun 6, 2008 04:42 PM

                Many years ago when I lived in LA, a place called ACUPOLCO in Westwood Village served the greatest SEAFOOD chimichanga. I've never seen seafood chimis here only very average chicken/beef. Has anyone info.
                Next, the ROSA MEXICANO lady showed the greatest MIXIOTE recipe on FOODTV [correction - the greatest when I did it myself and her recipe!!!]. The problem - the vapors from the great marinade., it's all put in parchment in a steamer foul the walls of my place in a melange of chili colors. Do CHO know of any great mixiote places in NYC.
                Thanks

                1. m
                  micheal Jun 5, 2008 09:27 PM

                  Seems without a car difficult to get to from SUNNYSIDE.
                  Is there a subway/bus closeby?
                  Thanks

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: micheal
                    d
                    DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 6, 2008 09:13 AM

                    Closest subway stop is Continental Ave (71st ave). You can take the Q23 from there for about a 10 minute ride, or if it's nice out it's about a 15 minute walk down 71st ave.

                  2. d
                    DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 3, 2008 05:20 PM

                    Keeping as close an ear as possible to all patron comments/complaints/concerns.... Thank you for the feedback....Keep it coming!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: DAVIDSAMPAYO
                      ericalloyd Jun 4, 2008 03:42 AM

                      like what you did with the space. it would be lovely to see more seafood options on your menu.

                      1. re: ericalloyd
                        d
                        DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 4, 2008 07:44 AM

                        Pleased to hear you appreciated the space. Mexican artwork is on the way, and a few construction nuisances are being finalized.

                        We do offer ceviche for dinner and a tilapia or snapper Veracruzana is in the works.

                        1. re: DAVIDSAMPAYO
                          janie Jun 4, 2008 08:59 AM

                          Do you have a menu online?

                          1. re: DAVIDSAMPAYO
                            cmoore618 Jun 4, 2008 09:12 AM

                            Welcome to the neighborhood! Are there any vegetarian entree items in the works as well? Personally, I would flip over a huitlacoche or flores de calabaza quesadilla....

                            1. re: cmoore618
                              d
                              DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 4, 2008 10:21 AM

                              Definitely impressed (and admittedly, a bit surprised) by the knowledge exhibited here. I have had quite a few vegetarians coming in and leaving a little disappointed with the currently limited options on our menu. Huitlacoche quesadillas sounds like a fabulous place to start (and wait till we perfect our flour tortillas!). Thanks.

                              I will try to get the menu posted today. Hopefully a decent website eventually as well.

                              1. re: DAVIDSAMPAYO
                                NYJewboy Jun 4, 2008 10:31 AM

                                David: any mole on the horizon?

                                1. re: NYJewboy
                                  d
                                  DAVIDSAMPAYO Jun 4, 2008 11:03 AM

                                  Mole is on the dinner menu - made from scratch.

                                2. re: DAVIDSAMPAYO
                                  cmoore618 Jun 4, 2008 10:49 AM

                                  My mouth is watering already!

                                  1. re: cmoore618
                                    c
                                    comiendosiempre Jun 5, 2008 08:36 PM

                                    Home made mole and great tacos al pastor? You've got me interested. We will stop by. If you get the huitalacoche on the carta I will have to bring my friends too............

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