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Jun 29, 2011 09:38 PM

I fought the cemita, and the cemita won

Several bites into my delicious queso cemita at Taqueria Coatzingo -- and an ominous crunch.

Granted, it was a multi-layered, densely packed sandwich involving chewy, sesame-studded bread and not one, but two, ample portions of stringy, soft queso (Oaxacan?) wedged between layers of shredded lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, beans and a mild, smoky chipotle pepper "spread."

That crunch was my flip-in-and-out false front tooth succumbing to the cemita. Is density the sign of a good cemita? Or do I need a better dentist?

Definitely a memorable dining experience. Full review of our meal to follow soon. Until then, I'm attaching a photo of the dread cemita.

Taqueria Coatzingo
76-05 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

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      1. re: Mr Porkchop

        To say the least -- though I think the dentist is not entirely blameless in this (lest the cemita get an unduly bad rap)...

      2. I don't understand your point. What are you trying to say about this restaurant? Don't order the cemita if you have recently had dental work? Thanks, I guess. Is it OK to go if I have healthy teeth? Can one with dental work go and order something else?

        1. It looks delicious. I'll be sure to use some extra Fix-O-Dent before I go.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sluggo1407

            Nice looking Cemita! I once lost a tooth on a meatball parm at Paneattico on Bay Ridge. Good sandwich; bad dental work.
            thegforceny, it's a food story.

            1. re: Paulomet

              Thank you for the clarification. I guess I'm not at the point yet where I find dentures stories interesting.

              1. re: thegforceny

                Not interesting, amusing. Anyway, the day shall come for you, too, soon I hope.

                1. re: Paulomet

                  Yes, purely offered up for amusement -- and perhaps as kudos to Taqueria Coatzingo's densely packed cemita. I have new respect for this sandwich.

                  By the way thegforceny -- I'm not as old as you may assume; this fake tooth was the result of a college tennis accident a few years back.

                  Taqueria Coatzingo
                  76-05 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

          2. And finally, the full review of our meal at Taqueria Coatzingo, in honor of El Grito (today). Viva Mexico! (Read on!)

            Our meal at Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights, Queens, started on a high note, when our affirmed beer hater sipped her first michelada (beer spiked with hot sauce and lime juice) and found true beverage love.

            After that promising introduction, we stuck to the simple dishes, ordering up a small army of tacos—carnitas (fried pork), al pastor (“gyro style”), birria de res (stewed beef), chorizo (Mexican sausage), pollo asada (chicken), carne asada (steak) and vegetariano—and a trio of sopes (thick disks of corn dough—masa—fried and loaded with savory toppings).

            Our taco devotee, who rarely praises Mexican food not procured from a truck or cart, loved the shredded, flavorful carnitas taco. Others raved about the chorizo and al pastor tacos. The steak in the carne asada taco was exceptionally tender but disappointingly bland, and the pollo asada and birria de res tacos were tasty but unremarkable. (Full disclosure: Your humble reviewer, a vegetarian, owes the “meaty” portions of this review to the careful descriptions of her carnivorous dining companions.)

            The lone meatless option, the vegetariano taco, was packed to the gills with all the usual side fixins: white onion, iceberg lettuce, tomato, pinto beans, crema (Mexican sour cream) and a generous dollop of guacamole. It was an unusually satisfying version of the usual New York vegetarian taco, but we had hoped for a simpler, more authentic option—grilled nopales (cactus) or spice-simmered root vegetables, perhaps.

            The sopes regulares were a sleeper hit, simple but indulgent. Despite being meatless, they combined fried-carb goodness, a heavy dose of dairy (crema and a crumbled, mild white cheese), a smear of pinto beans and a sprinkling of crunchy diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. The mix of flavors was absolutely fulfilling.

            Having read much about the greatness of Taqueria Coatzingo’s cemitas, we ordered one with queso. The sandwich was enormous—roughly the diameter of a cantaloupe melon and about half as thick.

            Packed between two halves of a chewy, sesame-studded roll were dense layers of sliced avocado, onions, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, a slather of pinto beans, smoky chipotle peppers and two ample portions of stringy, soft Oaxacan cheese. It was a delicious combination of flavors—unexpectedly mild and incredibly filling.

            Taqueria Coatzingo’s food is hardly revelatory, but it is satisfying, inexpensive and a cut above average in a city where authentic Mexican food is a real find.

            (Photos at:

            Taqueria Coatzingo
            76-05 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

            2 Replies
            1. re: CitySpoonful

              Did you check to make sure the sopes and cemita were truly vegetarian? Sometime masa and beans will have lard in it.

              1. re: CitySpoonful

                By the way the cemita looks amazing! Sorry you had a dentistry mishap whilst trying it!