I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery: Tacos in HK

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Old wood paneled TV blaring Charo enhances any dining experience

Hell’s Kitchen, the neighborhood not the show that Ramsay has people make endless risottos and called people stupid cows is an area that I often overlook for good food because of its proximity to Time Square and Port Authority which I always try to avoid. However, just a block away from the commuter hub and throngs of tourists is a different neighborhood that has good food. For one, Sullivan Street Bakery, which I can never get enough of is there and there is also, one of my favorite taco places there, Tehuitzingo Deli Grocery. 
First off, I cannot pronounce the name of this place for the life of me and I just call it that bodega in Hell’s Kitchen that has legit tacos. You will walk past it. This place stands out just as much as a Korean deli in the Village or another bodega in Queens. This is a place that if you were thirsty or edging for a pack of smokes, you would probably walk a block further for a more welcoming looking place. To avoid this place would be a mistake for any eater. Stepping into this narrow grocery, the walls and shelves are filled with stacks of tortillas, Mexican spices and can goods and snacks featuring flamboyant characters, no doubt of Latin descent.

 However, walk back a little further; past the cooler of Bodega popular beers, sodas and Mexican coke (not costing 5 bucks a bottle) you are suddenly transported to space in a jungle green glow and realize that they serve food here. A counter wrap the wall lined with swivel stools along with mirrors (just in case you wanted to check yourself out while downing posole) and at the end of the Grocery is a window that separates a kitchen, that is smaller than some walk-in closets I have seen and delicious tacos and food that you will find in this area. Tacos after the jump!

Ear taco, you can see the cartilage
The Menu is tacked on the wall and is a bit more gringo friendly than restaurants in Sunset Park or Corona, offering English translations to cuts and dishes. The menu ranges from tortas, cemitas, soups, moles and of course tacos. Being a fan of all things offal, I zeroed in on the taco menu, which thankfully goes past steak and chicken, which were on the menu for those that want to play it safe. I settled on getting 4 tacos, orejas, al pastor, tripa and lengua (ear, al pastor, and tripe and tongue). It is basically self service here, you place your order at the window, grab a drink from the cooler and wait and curiously watch Charo prance around on TV. 

Though they had Jarritos flavored sodas, they had Inca Kola, the electric yellow soda that I have become familiar with from my trip to Peru and grown to appreciate. One of the first times I have seen it here in the US (granted I was not really seeking it out) it taste like a milder, grassier cream soda and also you cannot say no to any liquid beverage that is not found on the color spectrum. The tacos came out quick stacked on a flimsy paper plates that clearly could not support the weight of the tacos. The tacos came simply dressed with onions and cilantro, and employed the double tortilla method; however after eating the excess of tortillas was not really necessary. The ear was tender, and had a sticky gelatinous texture mixed with the cartilage crunch. There are crisp bits from getting a flattop grill treatment adding another element of texture to it. 

The tripe was tender and had the slightest chewiness to it and lacked any organ-like smell that comes from badly cooked innards. Describing the taste of ear and tripe, even if I had Hemingway or Calvin Trillian writing skills, I cannot make it sound that mouthwatering like eating a perfect pomodoro or something a bit more familiar. But these are tasty cuts that are treated right, and with a bit of confidence for those that are squeamish about said meats, you are missing out on some great food. Tongue for example is one of the best cuts of meat on the cow.

Their Al Pastor

The tongue is just as tender as the filet and full of beefiness and I would take that over most other cuts of beef. The al pastor was a bundle of porky redness mash that tasted better than it looked. A mix of spiciness and a hint of sweetness from the addition of pineapple, unfortunately was not done spit style (which I never had but been wanting) but it was good regardless. 

a little tongue
I used to think to get tacos like this, I had to make trips to the Outer Boroughs and I am happy that places like Tehuitzingo has proven me very wrong. The prices at Tehuitzingo are amazingly cheap, given the rent of the neighborhood. Given the close proximity to Port Authority, I can see trips back to Jersey being a bit more bearable and an order of tripa and oreja may be the perfect treat to guarantee a row to myself on the bus.

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