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Jul 10, 2014 03:32 PM

Tongue: Authentic Mexican Outer Boroughs

Tongue. How does one know it is authentic Mexican? A minority of non-mexicans, if any at all. No Green Day or Gaga or Boyance blasting on the radio feed. Just the tongue, in a taco, and more for ones belly, as well as the Mexican tunes, enjoyed by Mexicans.

La Cemita Restaurant in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY

6417 20th Ave. That is between the corner of 65th Street and the N Train Station on 20th Avenue.

If one is desirous of authentic Mexican food, there are reminders that envelop my entire being, as often as I enter an establishment that has the musical tantra of many horns, and vocals sung in Spanish.

Judge it by 'The Tongue'.

The tongue (cow lengua) does seem to be the ubiquitous element that is found in all authentic Mexican venues, and at the same exact time, is 100% absent from venues that are mainly visited by people who primarily know Mexican geography from a tourist hotel, or early western movies.

These photos are very special due to the price of these tongue tacos. All items of meat tacos at this venue are listed as 2.50.

I typically find tongue (lengua) appearing on menus with a dollar or more added above the prices of the other meat tacos. That includes the tongue.

The waitress was so kind as to give me some of the homemade chips, and even more gracious, she added a dish of guacamole. For small orders they typically do not do this.

Viva Zapata...

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  1. Are you saying that only authentic Mexican restaurants serve tongue? Every Jewish deli I've ever visited sells tongue.

    Here are the places that came to mind immediately:

    The Mill Basin Deli even offers Tongue Polonaise in Sweet and Sour Sauce (probably with raisins):

    Here's a Wiki article that you should probably read:

    May I offer a quote?
    "Also, tongue is a part of Bulgarian cuisine (tongue with butter), Turkish Cuisine (as forms of fried, roasted, boiled and eaten as cold in a sandwich), French cuisine, Romanian cuisine, German cuisine, Spanish cuisine, Portuguese cuisine, Brazilian cuisine, Persian cuisine, Indonesian cuisine (semur lidah or beef tongue stew), Nicaraguan cuisine, Philippine cuisine, Albanian cuisine, English cuisine, Russian cuisine, Korean cuisine (hyeomit gui), Japanese cuisine (the dish gyutan originating in the city of Sendai), Italian cuisine (typical dish in Piemonte and Genoa), and Jewish cuisine."

    3 Replies
    1. re: foodiemom10583

      Only authentic Mexican Restaurants serve tongue, in the realm of venues that have Mexican indications on the sign.

      I had tongue just yesterday, well someone I was with had the tongue on a plate in salad.

      It was a Russian venue.

      So, allow me to make this more clear.

      Only authentic Mexican restaurants, opposed to Mexican restaurants that are inauthentic, serve tongue.

      I can find tongue cooked by other people than Mexicans, such as jewish and russian. But thank you for this list.....I love it....and will use it.

      I had tongue at a Bronx Deli, some time ago, without the Mexican garnish, at Loeser's Old Fashioned Kosher Deli, 231 Train Station.

      It was delicious.

      1. re: foodiemom10583

        That is a great quote.

        Could replace tongue with other organ and items, with all the locations you give.

        I noticed on the menu that the tacos are not adjusted for a higher price with lengua. Thus said, all other dishes using the lengua or tongue are increased by at least 1 dollar.

        This regards the Da Cemita.

        For instance, Huarache with tongue is 9.50, while all other meats for a Huarache is 8.50.

        Something to keep in mind, if you hope to get other items with tongue. A slice monetary increase, for the tongue, unless it is the taco.

        1. re: jonkyo

          "slight monetary increase, that is...."

          I can type and spell, and don't need glasses. slight mistake.

      2. Wait; what?

        I am 1/2 Caribbean American and 1/2 WAY back African American. I grew up eating deli tongue in Queens.

        Now I eat lingua in a Nor Cal suburb. Yes, it cost more than the usual .99 taco Tuesday taco.

        2 carnitas, and 2 lingua;...or sometimes al pastor please....and which agua fresca today? Jamaica? Strawberry? Watermelon? Guava? Mango? Papaya? Naranja?...yes, please! .....horchata? Not yet......

        Is that "authentic"?

        5 Replies
        1. re: Shrinkrap

          It is authentic. It is not a plastic tongue you are eating is it?

          And it may be prepared in a authentic Mexican manner.

          If it is inauthentic Mexican manner, the tongue will not be in the taco. It will be replaced by one of the authentic or inauthentic meats that the American feels comfort eating.

          I think most standard taste for Americans would be a mash potato taco. I have yet to see it on a menu. But I typically go to places that serve people who little experience eating mash potato.

          Head to Bensonhurst. The tongue taco is 2.50 US Dollars. Yummy....

          Mexicue has no tongue. It is not owned and operated by Mexicans, as far as I know. Mexicue does have craft beer though. I will take the tongue.

          1. re: jonkyo

            Cascabel taqueria on the UES is run by hipsters and definitely has tongue tacos on the menu. It's pretty good too but you would never go in based on appearances

            1. re: MVNYC

              I have been to a taqueria very near the location of the Cascabel taqueria, and they told me they do not have tongue. They were all Mexican, the staff. They cater to non-mexicans, mostly.

              Thank you for that info.

              For authentic it should be served by an individual who speaks very limited English. This is sarcasm...or a jest.

              By the way, hipster? They actually allow them to get an operating licence for things other than sofa filled cafes, and craft beer bars. I am impressed.

              There is a great cuban or brazilian venue on the same strip, near Columbia. They have great nachos. I think a Mason or a Rosicrucian owns it. I could be wrong, but whoever runs it, or manages it, makes incredible nachos.

              Comparing price, and ambiance, I will have to check out, the place you mention. Looks nice.

            2. re: jonkyo

              "But I typically go to places that serve people who little experience eating mash potato."

              I don't understand*, but no worries. I live in California now, and when coming home to Brooklyn, it is not Bensonhurst, and not for Mexican food.

              * ETA....Oh, I get it!

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                Do not get me wrong. With the tongue at the Russian place, there were mash potatoes. They were fresh, not from powder.

                I was impressed, though since they came with my plate, allowed for them to make a quick exit to another plate on the table.

                So, it was a polemic statement.

          2. I have to say I agree with you on this. Whether it's a Mexican sit-down restaurant, a diner or a taco truck, I check for lengua. Sometimes the places with lengua turn out to be shitty, but at least I feel like I've walked into the correct ballpark to begin with.

            8 Replies
            1. re: ratgirlagogo

              I stay away from motorized vehicles that serve food, so I am not familiar with such a culture. Thu stated, I detect much popularity with motorized vehicle food.

              If I had just been to two places that serve lengua, and made such a conclusion, it would not be fair.

              It is the places that scream 'Mexican' that are filled with other than Mexicans, that serve no lengua. So, I base my argument on commitment to my eyes and ears, and my tongue.

              They actually serve tacos in ballparks? Could be a good market, though most would opt for other than tongue, in the ballpark that is.

              1. re: jonkyo

                "I stay away from motorized vehicles that serve food"

                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                  I have never sought to figure that out.

                  It is just something I never do, eat from an order from a motorized vehicle.

                  I have purchased from a peddle bike that was 3 wheeled, that was fit with a frier, and would serve smelly tofu. He can't peddle across the Pacific so I have never seen the guy in NYC, the West Coast or any places in between the two.

                  1. re: jonkyo

                    Hmmm. Ok. I grew up in Los Angeles and I guess because it's just such a car culture there that street food in general, where street food was even sold in the first place (I"m talking 50's, 60's, 70's), was sold out of a motorized vehicle. I guess it is kind of odd, but nowhere near as weird as leaning out of your car window and bellowing your order into the mouth of a huge plastic clown, which we also used to do. Taco trucks in LA at that time were the closest equivalent to pizzerias in NYC - LA at that time was just not a walking-around town at all - people tell me this has changed, but I find it hard to believe.

                    Whoops, forgot to say that that's one of the reasons why the taco trucks in Queens and Brooklyn give me a kind of flashback to home.

                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                      I have nothing against taco trucks or the chimi vehicles. I simply have never partook. I do like sitting and eating, but thus stated, I do eat from stalls where ever I am, NYC, West Midwest.

                      I am sure I miss out on much well prepared food, not going to the vehicled kitchens.

                      "weird as leaning out of your car window and bellowing your order into the mouth of a huge plastic clown,"

                      This, my friend is evolution to many. They have an illusion that they have evolved beyond not just apes, but their neighbors, and of course, cultures that are absent from Drive Up windows.

                      I once was with a friend, and drove up to a Burger King or McDonalds drive thru, and she said.... what are you doing...I do not want to eat here. I rolled down my window and stated what one states initially in a confessional, after it was said "may I take your order". I simly drove off and my friend laughed and felt that it was also a bit rude.

                      Eating in cars for some may be a necessary act, due to schedules, but, a chimi or taco truck are quite cultural and and or ethnic feature to Queens and Brooklyn.

                      There are Greek trucks too.

                      1. re: jonkyo

                        taco trucks exist in dozens of cities around the U.S. as do trucks offering all manner of ethnic food, including American.

                        1. re: debinqueens

                          This is true.

                          I used to go to the East Side Greek place. The owner showed me a photo of his truck....and said that it was not just a food truck. They have some nice lighting and more.

                          In NYC the trucks with food are a good market.

              2. re: ratgirlagogo

                I am hoping one day, American cuisine will embrace organs. Pork, chicken, and cow, all muscle is very limited. Stringy meat...too chewy at times.

              3. Tip Of The Tongue in Brooklyn looks suspect. In one of the photos on the webpage of the restaurant, there is the half face of a folded New York Times, below a quesi-tower glass platform holding a half dozen scones.

                My question is: where is the tongue?

                From the Tip of the Tongue, the tongue can be found several Q Train stops down, at Avenue J.

                Though if one were to travel west to Coney Is. Ave from Newkirk, there is a place call Kazkav, an Azerbaijan restaurant, that undoubtedly serves tongue. Go south from there on Coney Island Ave. and there is eventually a nice Uzbek place, after J, if I remember correctly.

                1. Wish we could find out how the cemitas are at La Cemita.
                  It's a pretty good use for tongue also ya know.

                  8 Replies
                    1. re: jonkyo

                      creamy? never had one i'd use that adjective to describe, but ok.......

                      1. re: debinqueens

                        I do not know what a cemitas is are.

                        Are they a mixed drink? I googled that word and saw cream derived food items that looked dessert-esque.

                        1. re: jonkyo

                          Cemitas are a variety of Mexican sandwich, differentiated from tortas by the inclusion of papalo and the use of a different sort of roll. ubiquitous in "authentic" Mexican places.

                          1. re: debinqueens

                            papalo..looks nice.

                            And with 'papalo', I get the image of what you have defined as a Cemitas.

                            Maybe I was getting the spelling wrong on my image search.

                            Thank you. It is on my list.

                            I just met a woman from Puebla. That is were this so called Sandwich originates from.

                            I was using an 'r' after the 'c'. That is What is a Cremitas.

                        2. re: debinqueens

                          "My Cuban Traumas: Cremitas de Leche"

                          Leche is milk.

                          1. re: debinqueens

                            Yes, I could see eating these with my tongue, using my tongue that is...

                            What is a Cremitas?

                          2. re: jonkyo

                            I highly recommend lengua en la mejilla, if you ever run across it. I think you would find this to be very much to your likeness.