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Cemitas in Queens

Only had them at Coatzingo and they're great. Has anyone tried them at other spots in the area?

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  1. I'm no expert but I really enjoyed the one I had at Tia Julio on Roosevelt around 67th or 68th st.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Widmark

      That's Tia Julia.

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      Tia Julia
      91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

      Tia Julia
      68-06 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11377

      1. re: Widmark

        What did you have, steak milanese?

        1. re: Widmark

          I like the ones at the sabor Mexicano cart at 75th and Roosevelt or at mi poblano on Roosevelt b/w 75 and 76. It you're ever in LA, THE ONES at the central market downtown are the best of all!

          1. re: director517

            The cemitas at Estrellita Poblano III on Arthur Avenue has a great cemitas, if you're willing to make the trip up here. I've had it cecina, chorizo, bistec and steak milanese. All excellent, though my love affair with chorizo makes me favor it.

            I wrote about it on my blog and included a review to Robert Sietsema's very positive review of the restaurant: http://turntableskillets.wordpress.co...

            1. re: director517

              Unless they've added them very recently, I haven't seen cemitas at LA's Grand Central market. You can get fabulous tortas though. And if you're liking the stuff at Sabor Mexicano, you should go a few blocks in either direction of there and you'll find much better cemitas. I've never had anything at Sabor Mexicano to be better than average. El Poblano makes good tortas, but the cemita I've had there was a little dull. On El Poblano's menu, they offer a milanesa de puerco, which I haven't found anywhere else. But when I go by to order it, they don''t have it. I'm curious to know if anyone else has had it there.

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              El Poblano
              75-13 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

              1. re: E Eto

                Indeed, they were probably tortas. I order tortas and cemitas interchangeably a lot around here, but actually I was at the central market hunting for various varieties of chilis to buy in bulk, because I cook at home a lot more than I eat out. In fact, for my birthday last may I invited about 40 people over, made a gigantic pile of carnitas and spicy chicken, baked my own sesame rolls, piled up all the other fixings, and set up a cemita bar. It was a hit. I'm going to head on over to Tia Julia's tomorrow because I've been thinking about it all day and cant' get it out of my system. Coatzingo is my favorite place of all... at least so far, but the waitresses at El Poblano are super sweet and friendly, and they always giggle when the gringo orders in fairly fluent spanish, plus, when I first moved here (to JH), they used to make the tacos by starting with a slice of jack cheese on the tortillas before they would put them on the grill, then everything else was piled on top of the melted cheese. they were heavenly, and I never found anywhere else that made them that way, but they've stopped doing it there now too, and, in any case, at Coatzingo you get the grilled spring onions on the side, which rule. I don't know that I ever tried the milanesa de puerco, but it rings a vague bell. I might stop by there this weekend as well.

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                Tia Julia
                91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                El Poblano
                75-13 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

          2. I'm a big fan of the Milanesa de Pollo at El Mariachi on Broadway in Astoria if you're up in that area. The guy who runs it is a really nice Pobalano dude who runs a clean ship. Lots of popalo.

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            Viva El Mariachi
            33-11 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106

            12 Replies
            1. re: Mr Porkchop

              Thought much of the food I've tried at Viva Mariachi pretty lackluster. Can you compare this cemita to the ones at Coatzingo or Tia Julia?

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              Tia Julia
              91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

              1. re: E Eto

                I find many of the items hit or miss there and usually stick to tortas and cemitas, both of which are some of the best out of the dozen's I've sampled around the city.

                Serious Eats did a Cemita round-up: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/0...

                If you can judge a book by it's cover, or a cemita by it's bun, or whatever, I'd say I'm not missing much by not having tried Coatzingo. The Mariachi cemita looks similar to the Tia Julia picture, minus lettuce. It's about a 2-person sandwich. I'll look forward to trying Tia Julia sometime when I head out in that direction.

                Anyway, I thought I'd give an option in Astoria since Queens is a pretty big place.

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                Tia Julia
                91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                1. re: Mr Porkchop

                  Yeah, I remember seeing that roundup on serious eats and thought it was a weak sample. The average cemita in NY sets a high bar, but I've tried a number of them and there are a lot them hover at a high average. So far, of the dozens of places I've tried, two have really stood out, Coatzingo and Tia Julia. You should do yourself a favor and try them.

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                  Tia Julia
                  91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                  1. re: E Eto

                    Did the author get shorted, and does the sandwich at Coatzingo usually have popalo? It's one of my favorite parts of the sandwich.

                    1. re: Mr Porkchop

                      Okay, first off, I think I got a little mixed up when refering to some of the pictures in that Serious Eats link above. And let me here correct my poor spelling of "papalo."

                      No matter. I had some canceled plans this afternoon so decided to ride the R train out for a cemita-tacular sandwich fest inspired by this post. I'm no expert on cemitas, I always grew up a torta guy, but I do think I know what tastes good. So, with that caveat, here's is my verdict:

                      So I went out and tried the milanesa de pollo cemita at both Tia Julia and Coatzingo, and wow, I was really underwhelmed.

                      First Tia Julia. Place was totally empty. There wasn't even an employee out front when I walked in. My criticisms closely match those of Huck below. I liked the flavor of the bread, but boy was it dry. Like Chihuahuan desert dry. I'm agnostic as to whether it was stale or maybe just toasted, but you would never use "pliant" to describe it. It made quite a mess as it crumbed all over. The dominant flavor was the cold cheese. I really couldn't taste anything else. I ended up picking quite a bit out. The milanesa at both places verged on greasy and underbrowned. There was a good bean smear, but there was NO papalo, and NO chipotles. This was after I specified that I wanted it spicy, with everyhting. That said, it was still a cemita, so it was still really tasty and I ate most of it.

                      I liked my sandwich at Coatzingo a little better. There was more meat for sure. The chipotle presence was felt. The bread was soft like a bebe's behind. I got a taco al pastor chaser that I really enjoyed. But there was still no papalo.

                      Maybe I got the gringo special at both these places and they were holding back on me. If so, I don't really feel the need to go back, since I actually much prefer the cemita in my own corner of Queens. I mean, it's not like I came in and ordered nachos or something, you know? If I order a cemita you think they'd figure I know what I'm in for.

                      So, I can give an informed opinion now. No one is more surprised than me, but I think the cemita at Viva El Mariachi in Astoria is still my favorite in the city. Though I can't imagine eating one in the near future after today. Ugh. Anyway, it's papalo heavy. The cheese is about right. Lots of chipotles. No lettuce, which I'm fine with. They use white onion which adds some textural contrast if you're looking for it. The bread is good, though I imagine it might get some criticism as imperfect. I really like their milanesa. It's more browned/crisped, and less pounded, than most cemitas around. Pretty herby. Best of all, it's two blocks away from me.

                      That's my two centavos.

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                      Viva El Mariachi
                      33-11 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106

                      Tia Julia
                      91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                      1. re: Mr Porkchop

                        I have had cemitas at TC with popalo and sometimes theyve been out. Had one a while back at Tia Julia store (Closed?) and it was without popalo. I preferred the former, but the quesadillas at TJ are amazing.

                        Love both those places.

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                        Tia Julia
                        91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                        1. re: 2slices

                          TJ's storefront is still open. That's where I went. I'm sure it's good, but didn't seem like destination eats compared with what i have close enough to me. I could see Coatzingo as a fun place to head out to and have some foods with beers though.

                          1. re: Mr Porkchop

                            thank god. TC is definitely more fun if you dont go too often and an "experience" for the uninitiated. But weekdays during my lunch there are times where i dont want the noise and hubbub. Tho the TJ store front place is all about huaraches or quessadillas for me.

                            Little to no english there during the day.

                      2. re: E Eto

                        I schlepped all the way over to Tia Julia with mouthwatering anticipation and... they were out of cemitas. Total bummer. I ordered a torta instead, which was not very interesting, but I'm determined to give those cemitas a try, based on what I'm reading here. While walking back from 91st to 76th on Roosevelt, I passed a bunch of little mexican places that I've never tried. any to recommend?

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                        Tia Julia
                        91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                        1. re: director517

                          I had a cemita at Tia Julia last week & it was pretty underwhelming, the roll was stale, the filling was ok but the big chunk of cheese was really cold & didn't blend well with the warm pork. Maybe Monday afternoon is when they are using up the weekend rolls? I wouldn't be interested in having another there.

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                          Tia Julia
                          91st St and Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                          1. re: Huck

                            you guys should try Beky's in Corona. I've had a theory that the best should probably be at bakeries, not a truck. still need more research.

                            1. re: Jeffsayyes

                              Beky's in Corona? Please elaborate. Is it a Mexican bakery that sells cemitas? That's something I've never come across.
                              Where is it?

                2. Hi 2slices,

                  If, for some odd reason, you find yourself in Ridgewood at the Myrtle/Wyckoff stop of the L and M trains, there are wonderful cemitas at a truck on Wyckoff just south of Myrtle. I found out about it through this link:

                  http://bushwickbk.com/2010/05/07/best...

                  My favorite is the al pastor cemita and they've had plenty of papalo whenever I've gone.

                  Guess I thought Ridgewood must be feeling left out....

                  Ciao,

                  Glendale is hungry...

                  1. I know that this is Outer Borough and I do work in the LIC/Sunnyside area now, but I used to be based in Hell's Kitchen for years and Tulcingo Del Valle was up 10th Ave around 47th Street (665 Tenth Ave., New York, NY 10036, to be exact). I ate there regularly from the time they first opened and that was my first encounter with cemitas. They do a great job on them (and most everything else), though I have a slight aversion to the coriander-like, green herb that is an integral part of these sandwiches. Just one of those inexplicable things, since I have no problem with cilantro itself (though I sometimes taste more soap than herb - a common phenomenon, I hear).