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Good ethnic foods in Nassau County (south shore)?

Hi all, I am so eager to find something to eat in Nassau County other than the usual Italian, Chinese takeaway, Thai or Japanese. Love to cook at home, but am looking for some tasty restaraunts that might be, oh, French, Indian, Greek, Vietnamese, anything but the same usual choices. Looking for something that isn't as far out as Huntington, though would make the haul for the right place.

Any suggestions anyone can give for something other than Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Thai on the south shore of Nassau County would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. Well, there's Ephesus (Turkish food), Park Blvd in Massapequa Park (just south of Sunrise).

    You said you might venture to Huntington, which is about as opposite the South Shore as you can get. How about the Hicksville area? More mid-Island, and packed with Indian up and down 106/107.

    A little to the east of that is Koreana (Korean, of course) in front of the H&Y Supermarket, n/w corner Old Country Rd. and South Oyster Bay Rd.

    Otherwise, the South Shore is really not the best place for ethnic aside from the usual Italian or Chinese takeout (though I'm surprised to see Japanese and Thai lumped in with "usual").

    I don't know if you consider Cajun "ethnic" (I would)--there's Big Daddy's in Massapequa.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Scott_R

      Thanks Scott, in our little town we have one Thai place and a couple of sushi places, hence "usual" :-). But some variety would be great. I will definitely check out the Hicksville stuff (I needed an excuse to go to Ikea anyway, ha ha). I adore Cajun, so if Big Daddy's is good (do they have crawfish?) I am so there. Thank you once again for your reply!

      1. re: ideabaker

        They do (often) have crawfish:
        http://www.bigdaddysny.com/public_htm...

        If you don't mind swinging a BIT out of Nassau, there are jerk places in Amityville, though they're more takeout than anything else; Second's also has very good BBQ:
        http://tinyurl.com/6ad7k2

        1. re: Scott_R

          Thanks for those links, Scott; Bigdaddys sounds great, love the dish names and the prices... haven't had a Muffaletta in years... hope their is a good one. I will definitely give them a try. When you say Jerk places you mean Carribbean restaraunts? Right now I drive into Queens for Carribbean, and like you said they are usually takeout, but very good. If you remember the name of one you particularly like, please let me know! Again, thank you!

        1. re: Scott_R

          Scott, thank you for sharing this delectable review! It's seven a.m. and I've got Turkish food on the brain big time (especially those ground chicken kebabs)! This place definitely goes on my list! Again, thank you.

          1. re: ideabaker

            Based on Scott's review on Roadfood (check it out for pictures) We ate there recently and had a great meal. A very family friendly type place.

            We'll probably be trying it again this weekend.

          2. re: Scott_R

            Scott_R, my friend who is helping me work through the "ethnic restaurants in Nassau County" list and I passed Ephesus while searching for Big Daddy's (we were very lost!). He just mentioned to me that he wants to go try it out, so I think we'll be there in the next two weeks. Will report then!

            1. re: ideabaker

              Did you ever make it to Big Daddy's? It's about 1 mile east of Ephesus, opposite side of the road--Ephesus is on Park Blvd just south of Sunrise, Big Daddy's is on Park *Lane*: the two Parks are entirely different roads, not connecting or even at all proximate. South of Sunrise, Park Lane is Unqua Road.
              For Big Daddy's you use the underpass under the railroad tracks just west of Sunrise Mall (it'll have signs saying "No Mall Access").

              1. re: Scott_R

                Scott, I giggled upon reading your message because, yes, after many attempts (we passed the 'other Park' several times), we finally found Big Daddy's. The poor waitress/hostess/bartender talked us in by cellphone over five to six calls. That's how we ended up seeing Ephesus. Somebody needs to fix those signs over there :-).

                Now the place (BD's) had only been open an hour, and it looks like a "night life" kind of place, but I ordered the jambalaya and a fish dish. Maybe they were still serving leftovers from the night before, or perhaps their stove was broken, because the rice was extremely overcooked and dry. It was all mediocre, save the lovely waitress/janitor/secretary who was very much into customer service.

                I have decided to try the place again, maybe in the evening when the kitchen is more into full gear. Really could use some good Cajun!

        2. rockville centre has some good thai.there's thai table and simply thai.also,there's a few sushi places,the best being sushi ya on park ave.

          in hicksville we really like house of dosas on hicksville rd.

          big daddy's is good but not as amazing as it was with the original owners.

          we could use a good vietnamese place on the island.if you happen to be in nyc,our favorite is thai son on baxter street.

          8 Replies
          1. re: davmar77

            Except that the OP said *not* Thai or Japanese.

            1. re: davmar77

              Yes, Davmar77, we sure could use some good Vietnamese on the island. I grew up in Texas on the Gulf Coast and we had such great Vietnamese (and Mexican) food. I'm adding thai son (it is Vietnamese, yes?) to my list. Is House of Dosa's a full menu Indian place?

              1. re: ideabaker

                all vegetarian south indian style.we love it!

                http://www.houseofdosas.com/

                and yes,thai son is vietnamese and sooo goood!

                1. re: davmar77

                  While I've had indian food many times I'm not familiar with what a dosa is nor a uthappam. Can someone describe both to me? Are they big enough for each to be an entree? Thanks.

                  1. re: synergy

                    A dosa is often likened to a crepe, but larger. It is made primarily from a lentil flour based better, though there are other types (rava has wheat flour in the batter which contributes glutens making a dosa which is simultaneously stretchier in the center and lacier on the edges, paper dosa has rice flour which gives a finer batter and thinner crepe, hence the name). 'Masala' is the typical filling of seasoned potatoes/onions, though there can be other fillings (i.e. cheese or chili/onion). Uthappam is the lentil batter ladled onto the giddle thicker and prepared like a large pancake- sometimes the wet batter is studded with chiles and cilantro. All of these are typically served with sambar (a vegetable and dal stew flavored with tamarind and mustard seeds, among other things) and coconut chutney. They can be filling as a lunch, but as a dinner you would probably want to supplement it with some appetizers or rice.

                    Fortunately House of Dosas has a good sized selection aside from the dosa, vada, iddly- and a lot of what they serve are quite excellent. My faves are- the bhel puri (a 'must get' item, imo- if they ask if you want it spicy say yes!), rassam (as spicy as it is elegant), channa masala, coconut rice and eggplant. I don't get there as often as I used to, man I miss this place...

                    Does anybody know if they still do those deep fried dried chiles? Those are something special.

                    1. re: TongoRad

                      TongoRad, thank you so much for the explanation. From how you describe each they all sound wonderful. I've heard many good reviews of House of Dosas and will absolutely try it. Thanks again.

                    2. re: synergy

                      if you look at the website you can see a few styles on the opening page.my wife is now working in albany and coming home weekends until we sell our house on long island.then i'll go there too.she happened on a good dosa place a mile from where she's living by accident.

                    3. re: davmar77

                      So does Dosa's have veggie curries? Was Einstein a vegetarian??? I am definitely hitting Thai Son next trip into the city. Have been obsessed with finding a great Vietnamese place! Thanks again.

                2. I've really liked Pollos El Paisa (989 Old Country Rd.) in Westbury. It's Colombian, with a big emphasis on chicken. The prices are very reasonable.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Angela Roberta

                    Don't know much about Colombian food... but it 'aint Italian, Chinese, Japanese or Thai, so I'm in for trying it! What do you recommend from their menu? (p.s. I do like the other cuisines, my palate is just yearning for something different!)

                    1. re: ideabaker

                      The roast chicken is excellent. I like the yellow rice, too. There is a good, fresh salad with avocado. Also, take a look around you and see what the Colombian customers are eating. I loved the rice pudding and excellent (and cheap!) coffee for dessert.

                      1. re: Angela Roberta

                        Angela, I chuckled a bit reading your post because I usually do exactly that. I go into a restaraunt, get a table, then excuse myself to the ladies' room so I can walk by the other tables and see what looks interesting. (Not a food topic but I do the same thing with clothes, I look for stuff on other people and if I like it I try to find something like it!). When yellow rice is done well it is heaven! Thanks for your suggestions!

                        1. re: Angela Roberta

                          We eat there (takeout) at least 2X's a month). Dont have the patience to get a table. Too crowded. Food is good, although inconsistent. That being said, its always good.

                          1. re: Hicksville

                            Is Pollos El Paisa always crowded... I mean what would be the best time to go when there would be the least amount of people?

                    2. Ok, I have what swhould be some welcome suggestions for you! There happens to be a fairly new Vietnamese restaurant up in Williston Park, its called Paradise Island and is at 344 Hillside Ave. The number there is 516-248-1140. I just had dinner there last weekend, and I really liked it, the crispy viet spring rolls were excellent, and the fish boulliabase was tangy and delicious!

                      For another suggestion, how about a Filipino restaurant? There is a nice small one in Rockville Center called Abigail Cuisinse and Coffee Shop, and its at 230 Merrick Rd., their phone number is 516-608-2777.

                      Enjoy!!

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: tasaday

                        tasaday, THANK YOU!!! I absolutely love Filipino food, can't believe a restaraunt is just in Rockville Centre... awesome! Now I have to figure out (I will Mapquest) where Williston Park is, but don't worry I will find that Vietnamese restaraunt when I get back stateside. My tummy is already grumbling for it! Again, thanks!

                        1. re: ideabaker

                          Glad I could help, and just so you know, Williston Park is just east of New Hyde Park.

                          Oh, and since you mentioned Greek as one of the tastes you were looking for, in RVC, there is also a very good Greek restaurant on N. Village Ave called Greek Family Town.

                          1. re: tasaday

                            Boy, Tasaday, this is an area I definitely need to check out better. Need to pull out my maps. I'm adding Greek Family Town to the "must try" list. I love Italian but am overloaded on it (every other restaraunt is Italian where I live), so your tips for new places will really help! Again, thank you!

                            1. re: ideabaker

                              oops, I had the name slightly wrong, its Greek Town Family Restaurant, and here's a link for them:

                              http://www.greektownrvc.com/

                            2. re: tasaday

                              Tasaday, today, on my way back to LB from Rockville Ctre Allergy Testing, I passed Greek Town Family Restaurant... I had to stop as I thought of your suggestion.

                              Stepped in and was immediately thankful for the "Cellphone-free zone" signage. There is little more annoying than trying to enjoy a solitary meal while the person at the next table screams into their cellphone! :-)

                              I was seated in the front window, and had a lovely view of the gorgeous church across the street and assorted people bundled in winter coats,scarves and hats taking baby steps across the snow and ice to prevent themselves from falling.

                              Perused the menu, and was surprised at the large and varied selection of foods. So when my server arrived, I asked her what the "stars" of the menu were. She said that the Greek Goddess salad (grilled chicken kebab over Greek salad with pita and tzatziki) and the Mighty Aphrodite salad (grilled shrimp/chile/onion kebab over Greek Salad with pita and tzatziki) were two of their most popular dishes, outside of their gyros. So I picked Mighty Aphrodite (ok the name swayed me, but also was interested to see how the shrimp turned out).

                              It was wonderful! The shrimp were moist, even though they weren't the largest, which is hard to pull off. The veggies from the kebab were perfectly cooked as well. The salad was cut up small enough so I didn't have a "lettuce beard" and the feta and tzatziki sauce were fresh and delicious. The big surprise was the pita itself, so tender and delicate, with rustic edges, done on the grill. This restaurant will be a new regular for me, as the food was great, service prompt and the pricetag was not hefty.

                              Thank you for a(nother) great suggestion!

                              1. re: ideabaker

                                Check out the post: OMG! Flushing comes to Nassau County!

                                1. re: toby1355

                                  Toby, your post at thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/587059 was a great review of what sounds like great Chinese to eat, right here in Nassau County! Thanks for your recommendation. I'm adding it to the "must eat there" list right now.

                                  Any recommendations for Tex Mex?

                                  1. re: ideabaker

                                    Thanks Toby for the recommendation, it on my list to try now too!

                                    Ideabaker, have you tried El Mariachi in RVC yet? I don't know if it will live up to your standards from living in TX, but I find it to be good.

                                    1. re: tasaday

                                      Tasaday, I haven't gotten to El Mariachi yet. I keep getting poo-poo's from my usual dining buddies and something about eating alone surrounding by strolling mariachis seems... weird. But I did locate it (actually saw it to the right on Merrick Road on my way to Home Goods the other day) so I know just where to go. I imagine parking must be in the back somewhere? (There were no cars in front of any of the storefronts on Merrick.) But I will absolutely get there, even if it does mean going by myself!

                                      Funnily, after going to Greek Town Family Restaurant, I got a hankering for more Mediterranean-inspired food, so I cooked up this 'fusion' meal of http://www.recipezaar.com/Luleh-Kebab... on my George Foreman grill with sides of a Tzatiki Sauce and the cinnamon rice with raisins and pine nuts recommended by one of the posters on the right side. Tried to duplicate the Greek Town salad as well as a side, and it was mighty tasty. But sadly, couldn't get the pita right, so will be back to Greek Town and will try out your suggested appetizers! Thanks for those suggestions, and will post when I get over to El Mariachi!

                                      1. re: tasaday

                                        We like El Mariachi. I wouldn't call it any kind of authentic, but it's tasty and a good example of what it is. The mariachis are fun, and the drinks are strong. I do not think they use a machine for margaritas.

                                  2. re: ideabaker

                                    I'm so glad you liked it! Its my favorite Greek restaurant outside of Astoria. I've always found their pita bread to be just as you described. The appetizers and soup there are also very good, I especially like their Taramousalata, and Avgolemono soup. (I'm really hopi9ng I spelled those right, LOL).

                              2. re: tasaday

                                Tasaday, the Vietnamese restaurant is going to be one of the next ones I try. One question, have you (or anyone else) tried "A Taberna", the Portugese restaurant on Long Beach Boulevard (I believe it is in Island Park)? Usually restaurants that open there don't last long but it's been there a while...

                                1. re: ideabaker

                                  No, I have not yet tried that one, but it is on my list. If you make it there before me, make sure you post a review!

                                  1. re: tasaday

                                    Ok, after your post, I couldn't stop thinking about A Taberna. So today at lunchtime I decided to drive over (it's, what, ten minutes away?) and give it a try. Was luckily able to find a friend at a moment's notice and we met up at the place.

                                    Firstly, it opens for lunch at one, which meant we sat in the parking lot chatting for thirty minutes (I always expect "lunch" to start at noon).

                                    When we got in, we found a quaint, rustic, with a "sailboat" theme restaurant and crisp cloth tablecloths all ready to go. A small bar (not visible from the dining area) was at the front. We were escorted to the table, and perused the menu.

                                    I'd read a review on it and was told that the appetizer of clams with chorizo was a very authentic Portugese dish, so I'd decided before arriving to order it. My friend insisted that the escargot were not to be missed (had been there before), about twenty snails for eight bucks. So we got both. The clams were tender with an incredibly fragrant and savory sauce that we actually bartered for after the noshing slowed down. The escargot were also tasty, with a lot of garlic (which I love, but others mightn't).

                                    After we leisurely gobbled that down, we both ordered the Kale and Chorizo soup which was delightful, kind of like a Miso broth with tons of finely shredded Kale and chunks of chorizo that flavored the broth. Delicious!

                                    Unfortunately by then I was full so I didn't get to any of the entrees! But they sounded wonderful, especially the seafood plates (and there were many variations on the menu). I will absolutely return for dinner as a result on another night.

                                    p.s. When we left, the bar was filled with quiet men eating olives and watching the soccer; how Portugese :-). I definitely recommend trying it out (and nothing on the lunch or dinner menu cost more than 25$, I checked).

                                    1. re: ideabaker

                                      Now I'm hungry! LOL! Sounds like a place I'll have to visit soon! Thanks!

                                      1. re: tasaday

                                        Tasaday, you won't regret it. I wanted to eat everything on the menu! Went back for dinner and was equally pleased with both service and food. Hey, the only way to decide if you like it is to get over there yourself! I will note that at lunchtime, the guy waiting our tables was also the bartender and the person who mopped the floors. Everyone seemed to be just waking up. We owned the place and the atmosphere was quiet and rustic, with a dose of charm. If you get there let us know what you ordered and what your thoughts were.

                                        1. re: tasaday

                                          p.s. if you are into bringing your own wines to places, they have a $17.50 per bottle corkage fee... enjoy!

                                        2. re: ideabaker

                                          I used to go to A Taberna a lot but I stopped, I think that being busy went to their heads.
                                          They are not at all the same as they were.

                                          1. re: Nancy191

                                            I returned there for dinner about a week ago and the food was delightful and the place was hopping with people. That little plot of land they are on has housed many an eatery and A Taberna has lasted unlike the others, so maybe they have earned bragging rights :-)? I think going early is the secret, in fact I always try to open up a place. The food is great! Maybe give them another chance earlier in the evening.

                                    2. re: tasaday

                                      For what it's worth, The people that work and cook there are Chinese from Fujian province, China. I'm somewhat ambivalent about this. While I know it's done, the lack of authenticity takes the experience down a notch, at least for me. On the other hand is pseudo-Vietnamese, within an easy drive, better than no Vietnamese?

                                      1. re: tasaday

                                        Check out my post, dated today, that appears below vis-a-vis the Vietnamese place.

                                      2. P.S. and addendum... does anyone know of any authentic Mexican or even Tex Mex in Nassau County?

                                        32 Replies
                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                          the best i found so far is la panchita.it's mexican and spanish.they have 2 locations.

                                          http://www.lapanchita.com/

                                          1. re: davmar77

                                            La Panchita sounds good, can't remember how close Levittown is to Long Beach, but I will find it. Guess that pic was taken around St. Patrick's Day :-). Have you ever gone there on "live music" night? Is it Mariachi music? That would be fun!

                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                              it's probably about 30 minutes from long beach.el mariachi in rockville center has live music and they are also good but pretty straight.solid but straight.they have an outdoor area too.

                                              1. re: davmar77

                                                I have to agree with davmar, I've been to La Panchita...although its been a number of years, and remember the food was quite good! I like El Mariachi and have been going there for many years, the strollling mariachis are always good :-)

                                                As for other suggestions of places for you to try, Nagasaki in Hempstead, its actually a pretty decent Jamaican restaurant. And besides Big Daddys (which I love) there is another Cajun place in Bellmore on Jerusalem Ave, called The Bayou. http://www.bayou4bigfun.com/about%20u...

                                                1. re: tasaday

                                                  all my old hangouts.here's how it all started:

                                                  the bayou opens in 86.eventually the co-owners,a woman and a couple,the couple including the chef,split.the couple leaves the bayou and opens big daddy's but eventually sell due to health problems a few years back.after some downtime,the couple opens yazoo city in lindehurst but alas,can't make a go of it there.bad location i think.so big daddy's is doing ok under the current owner although i don't think it's quite as good as with the original staff.during all of this,the remaining owner of the bayou sells the place and retires.

                                                  a waitress from the bayou and her friend who works at the bayou sometimes,come up with the idea of rattlesnake jones and they open in 93.the name was shortened due to a short lived chain type place in lynbrook called rattlesnake figuring it's easier than a court battle although the chain joint closes shortly after and rs jones is still doing well to this day...

                                                  1. re: davmar77

                                                    davmar77- I was one of the original regulars at the Bayou in Bellmore, so at the very least I can put some names to that story. The original owners of the Bayou were Jean Pierre and Loretta Galinas along with Kathleen Leskody(?). Those were indeed golden years- the gumbo was as good as the jukebox which was as crazy as the drinks. Loretta was credited with the pecan pie recipe, was the inspiration for Sweet Loretta's Shrimp, etc., man those were the days. The split was between Jean Pierre/Loretta and Kathleen- I loved both places the first few years afterward all that because they led to two different sort of joints. At this point, though, it seems like things have gone downhill all around. But hey- they had a really good run while it lasted!

                                                    1. re: TongoRad

                                                      i thought about adding the names but opted not to.that's ok though,it's not like no one doesn't know them from the area.the real start of all of this was the local band the freelance vandals.john was the lead singer and main songwriter.we were all fans and were quite surprised when he first told us about opening a restaurant.until then,none of us knew john could cook! he showed us.

                                                      1. re: TongoRad

                                                        and here's chef jean-pierres site. i stumbled across it some time ago and visit every so often.

                                                        http://www.hellchef.com/

                                                    2. re: tasaday

                                                      Hmm... a Jamaican Restaraunt called Nagasaki? :-) You never know these days. I'm adding it to the list! I adore Carribbean food, and when I go I usually order Oxtails, Brown Stew Chicken, and Curried Goat with Rice and Peas and Plaintains. They usually look around to see who else is with me (no one) and I eat what I can and wrap the rest up to go! There's breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next couple of days! Thanks for that additional suggestion!

                                                    3. re: davmar77

                                                      Who knew good Mexican food, complete with Mariachis, was right there in Rockville Centre? I will so be checking that place out! Thanks!

                                                      1. re: davmar77

                                                        As you know, I have a list I am working through of the ethnic eateries on the South Shore. I talked several friends into joining me to check out El Mariachi, which - as a former Texan - I was very excited to visit.

                                                        A few of my friends prefer bringing their own wines when we go out, and asked if I'd find out if El Mariachi had a corkage fee. I phoned and asked. I was told "Yes, we have corkage fee". I asked "How much is it?". Then the person on the phone said " Twice the price of the bottle" (for most places around here it is ten to fifteen dollars) . Now, me being the inquisitive person I am, I asked "How do you know the price of the bottle?" and was told "We just know". I pressed on, asking "How could you know what what every customer paid for every bottle they bring in?". The guy on the other end of the line said "We just know". Then there was a moment of silence and he added "but no, we sell wine, we don't have a corkage fee, you cannot bring wine here". (A kind of "Sybil" moment). So I asked if he was the manager, he said yes, so I said thanks and hung up.

                                                        Informed my friends of the whole story and they got attitude and said "we already have a bad feeling about this place". To keep the group happy I just relocated our planned outing from El Mariachi (which I will still visit in the future without my wine buddies) to the new Ay Caramba Bar and Grill at 26 East Park Avenue (across from Waldbaum's) in Long Beach. (Not to be confused with their take-out place also called Ay Caramba across from the train station on Park Ave).

                                                        It is an understated place with an exposed brick wall along the length of the left wall, giving it a kind of Manhattan feel. We were greeted with freshly made tortillas and homemade salsa which we devoured, asking for more. The guacamole we ordered was rockin'! We ordered scrumptious Steamed Clams (It is called Steamed Clams and Mussels, but you can request both or either) with green sauce and another with red sauce. Very, very good (both kinds, I preferred the green), but not a whole lot of them- if you are a seafood hog like me :-) - then you should expect an order to be for one person only. Someone ordered the Queso Fundido appetizer which had melted cheese, chorizo, onions and peppers in a small container that didn't need to be washed when we were done because we'd practically licked it clean. After we'd eaten that the owner came by and suggested the White Shrimp Ceviche which had pineapple and coconut, but we were too full to try it before the entree. (Next time!).

                                                        I asked the waiter what kind of cuisine they would define themselves as, and he said "Tex-Mex". Being from Texas, I got excited and asked "So the enchiladas are made with corn tortillas?"... sadly he looked like a deer caught in the headlights and then said " sorry, we use flour tortillas to go with the NY tastes". Then he quickly added "but we can make them with corn tortillas if you request them" bringing my excitement back. So I got that. A few people ordered the "Three Amigos" which is exceptional grilled certified Angus shell steak, chorizo and chicken. The steak and chicken were great though I found the chorizo a bit dry (I'm not a huge fan of eating chorizo, just using it to season the other foods). Someone ordered Fish Oaxaqueno which was fish sauteed with capers, garlic and olives with artichokes and scallions over rice, and by far it was the tastiest dish on the table. Right as we sat back to rub our tummies, the owner came out and suggested the MahiMahi Pipian which is Mahi Mahi wrapped in plantain leaves with veggies and cumin. Nothing on the menu was more than 24$ at dinnertime.

                                                        I will get to El Mariachi, but if you'd like a new "Mexican Inspired" place (owned by an Ecuadorian) to try, Ay Caramba (the bar and grill across from Waldbaum's) is really worth it!

                                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                                          Ay Caramba is right!! I don't speak Spanish, but perhaps the only word that fits is Delicioso!! I read one of the previous posts and decided to give the quaint Long Beach restaurant a chance to impress, and impress it did. The food was outstanding, from the first freshly seasoned chip with salsa to the final fork-full of what can only be described as Heaven-flavored flan. Not to mention the Aptly named Ay Caramba margarita with just the right blending of Patron and passion fruit, that started off my Ay Caramba experience.

                                                          The bar, appropriately close to the entrance considering the welcoming atmosphere throughout the restaurant, was occupied by a few different groups, couples it seemed, all raving about a different "special" drink they had been introduced from, and ranting about the playoff football game being shown on both of the flat screens. I was persuaded to try the coconut martini, which I generally dislike as I'm not much of a vodka fan, but with the coconut shavings along the side of the glass, I couldn't stop myself from asking for another.

                                                          If you remember only one thing from this post, make it this......GUACAMOLE!! IT'S INCREDIBLE!!! The chips and salsa were great, but were no match for the bowl of guacamole I had to order seconds of as my friends and I swallowed whole it seemed. I even had to ask for a little extra after the waiter brought out my heaping plates of fajitas. It looked like four separate plates fastened together to create one of the largest dishes I've seen from a restaurant like this. The plate took up nearly the entire table for just my meal and was stocked with some of the most delicious fajita toppings and extras I can recall.

                                                          Don Juan's, Pancho's, El Mariachi.....I've been there, done that. Sure the band is nice, or the tequilla girl, but there food is no where in the same league as Ay Caramba's. I don't know if they're hiding 5-star chefs in the back, but it must be. I only tasted my wife's 3 Amigos dinner (a combination of steak, chicken and chorizo) and had decided exactly what I would order next time (coincidentally only a few days afterwards). I can't speak for everyone, only for me and my friends who I saw order, eat, and exclaim about the chicken roll (a fried combo of chicken with shrimp), the saint. peters fish (lathered in delicious fixings) and even my son's enchilada (steak by the way, he hates chicken), was unbelievable.

                                                          My father's 58th birthday is coming up shortly and I can't think of any place better to take him to celebrate this year. He's always loved Mexican food, especially fajitas and I know Ay Caramba will not disappoint. I'll be booking the party soon, just in case anyone reading this is around and whants to take a shot or two with my old man. Thanks for making aware of this greeeeeeeeat restaurant

                                                      2. re: ideabaker

                                                        we tried to go back a couple of weeks ago only to find an eviction notice on the door.shame as it was really quite good.i wonder if their other location has also gone the way of all things.

                                                        1. re: davmar77

                                                          davmar, which restaurant are you referring to? With the eviction notice?

                                                          1. re: tasaday

                                                            la panchita in levittown.they have 2 other places,smithtown and deer park that are still open.

                                                    4. re: ideabaker

                                                      Some excellent Tex-Mex at RS Jones in Merrick...

                                                      http://www.rsjones.com/

                                                      1. re: MacTAC

                                                        Am I missing something? I reviewed the menu and didn't see any Tex-Mex, just regular Texas BBQ fare with some southern inspired items on the menu. Perhaps they have changed the focus of the resto?

                                                        1. re: ideabaker

                                                          I was never really into that place.
                                                          They did just open smokin als in massapequa...

                                                          1. re: Jeffsayyes

                                                            *sigh* Guess I always get excited when I hear Tex-Mex. Maybe should learn to quell that feeling a bit... will have to find some of the other Mexican places suggested here, though I've been disappointed so many times in my 14 years of being in the area (after growing up in Texas) that I'll have to go in with a bit of trepidation... thanks though!

                                                            1. re: ideabaker

                                                              theres a crappy tex mex place on wantagh ave just south of sunrise. but im not one to say, I barely respect the cuisine.

                                                              1. re: Jeffsayyes

                                                                Well... crappy isn't exactly what I was looking for, foodwise. Do you mean decor, or food? (I don't care if the decor is lacking... as a former Texan I adore and miss Tex-Mex cuisine, so if it is on target foodwise, I'm there!) Thanks.

                                                                1. re: ideabaker

                                                                  Have you been to Green Cactus? It's a Long-Island based mini-chain (9 locations, family owned and LI-only).
                                                                  http://www.greencactusgrill.com/order...
                                                                  I like "real" Mexican better (once again with my periodic dirge for the lost Fonda Coyacoan), but I like this place for Tex-Mex.

                                                                  Part of their claim to fame is nothing canned or microwaved and a bunch of other things I don't recall offhand.

                                                                  1. re: Scott_R

                                                                    Scott_R, funny you should mention Green Cactus. I think one recently opened up in Long Beach. I was headed to Yummy Yummy (Chinese and Japanese food) the other day and picked up a menu. The guys working there were tripping over themselves to welcome me, and were more than a bit disappointed that I didn't stay. It looks worth a try, and I will absolutely pick up food there (don't know if I will actually eat in) soon. I hope they survive the winter in Long Beach.

                                                                    My yardstick for good Tex-Mex is the cheese enchilada. It should be made with corn tortillas, not flour. It should have sauce. It should be slow cooked (baked, not microwaved). This seems basic but you would be shocked at the travesties I've encountered in New York with the label "cheese enchilada" hanging around their necks. So hopefully they will pass!

                                                                    1. re: ideabaker

                                                                      I don't know if they have a "cheese enchilada" as in cheese-only, no meat, but their menu description for enchiladas states:

                                                                      "Two soft corn tortillas filled with steak or chicken, cheese and rice, topped with our fresh made Cactus green salsa, served on a plate with a choice of black or pinto beans, rice, tomato and sour cream." And since they don't use microwaves....

                                                                      1. re: Scott_R

                                                                        Oh, that sounds very close... the rice is a California thing, I think, but I'm sure they would hold the rice if asked. I will definitely give them a try. Thanks, Scott_R!

                                                                      2. re: ideabaker

                                                                        Have you tried Baja Grill? There's one in Lake Success, and I think their food is much fresher tasting than Green Cactus.
                                                                        There is another place you may want to try that might be more like what you are thinking of as Tex-mex, although here it is considered Mexican, Poco Loco in Roslyn. They have the standard taco/enchilada/etc. dishes, mole poblano, that kind of thing, with beans and rice. I was just in Dallas and went to La Hacienda. I was not impressed, but it is certainly inexpensive.

                                                                        1. re: robinsilver

                                                                          You mean Baja Fresh Mexican Grill? Baja Grill is in Northport and Smithtown; Baja Fresh is in Lake Success.

                                                                          Isn't Baja Fresh just a national chain restaurant?

                                                                          1. re: Scott_R

                                                                            Does Baja Grill (in Northport/Smithtown ) have a website? Or for that case, Baja Fresh in Lake Success? I grew up in Taquerias (sp?) with huge, 3-meal servings burritos accompanied by inexpensive but complex Mexican beers, all for under five bucks (hmmm... was I spoiled, and come to think of it, WAY younger??). Know I can't recapture youth, but the tastes!!! Sureley somewhere around here has it. At this point am willing to venture into the city but have been disappointed there too, as Tex-Mex goes...

                                                                        2. re: ideabaker

                                                                          Green Cactus reminds me of the Mexican takeout places we used to get takeout from when I lived in East Village/Grammercy- Burritoville (the original), Paquito's, probably one more I'm forgetitng. Big burrito with fresh ingredients for $7-8, with fresh chips 'n salsa to go. It's a reasonable change of pace.

                                                          2. re: ideabaker

                                                            PANCHO'S!!
                                                            Excellent tex mex - been going there for over a decade - try it.

                                                            http://www.panchostexmex.com/panchos-...

                                                            1. re: Barcelonian

                                                              Hi Barcelonian... if you are referring to the Pancho's on Long Beach Road, I've been there. A couple of times. Sadly, it wasn't "Tex-Mex" as I grew up with. They give lots of food, the guac was pretty good, but enchiladas are my "gold standard" for Tex-Mex, and theirs just didn't fly with me. I don't think their tortilla chips are freshly made, and if they are, maybe the oil is different or something. The chips at On the Border (yes the chain in Hicksville) are much tastier, IMO.

                                                              Your post makes me think that perhaps I should give Panchos (yet) another chance. It does stay in business and is often packed, so it hits the NY palate just right, I guess... thanks for your suggestion!