Mexican food in New York – ah yes, there are a handful of joints worth trying out. Of course you won’t ever see the standard achieved in California, not to mention Mehiko. You won’t ever top the authentic flavor and fresh ingredients found in the West and maybe Texas. However, New York is home to 290,000 Mexicans (according to the 2007 census) – not counting the dark numbers of illegal immigrants- and therefore certainly has some spots which offer food worth mentioning.
Two weeks ago a friend invited me to join him for dinner and blindly led me down the curved roads of the West Village. When I found my orientation back we were standing in front of a rather insignificant looking small pub, or so I thought, from which some loud voices were incoherently yelling out broken sentences. I should mention that we went on a Saturday night, which is a day the entire Bridge-and-Tunnel-crowd makes its way into the City, being hardly representable of a good night-out in New York during the week.
The inside of the restaurant is fairly large compared to my first impression and it is segregated into a bar area (where most of the “rowdies” sat) and a fine dining area, which was filled with animated discussions buzzing from every table – a typical weekend night, so far.
We didn’t have reservations but only had to wait 30 minutes until the hostess had a table for two waiting for us. In the meantime we simply got a “Diablo Ricky” at the bar and chatted away. This drink was a newbie to me, as it is made of beer and frozen margharita (double calories, girls, not that it matters, though), which might sound disgusting at first but once you try it you will agree that this is the best idea the Mexicans have had cuisine-wise. I have to add that two of these can get you tipsy, and that no one should underestimate the results of a large beer and a cocktail mixed together.
Once seated at the table, we were offered a bowl of chips with salsa dip for free and started right off. I tried it and almost flipped: The salsa was one of the best I had tried in the past two years! Freshly made, chopped up, spiced up just to the right amount. Not the bottle-and-can-stuff you can get at any supermarket. Very exotic indeed. And when my friend added a bowl of guacamole to it all, we already had our ideal little appetizer. I do prefer the salsa, if I had to choose between either one, but the combo of spicy salsa with medium guacamole goes hand in hand!
The entrée options are splendid and one peek to our neighboring gourmands made us realize that there was no way we would snag a real three-course-meal into what was already in our bellies. Both of us were up for the same taste, so I got a shrimp enchilada while my friend teased his taste buds with a vegetable enchilada. Mhmmm, both were so good! The shrimp fitted right in with the beans and melted cheese, and all was covered in a white sauce, delightfully prepared on our plates. I believe this dish is simply called shrimp enchilada with chipotle crema (a very elegant way to describe their sauce). My friend has eaten here before and also recommends the tacos, as they are made-up of further tasty ingredients.
I couldn’t even halfway finish my meal, because I had spoiled my appetite on those chips beforehand, but luckily Diablo Royale gives you a take-out bag in case these things happen. And of course I’ve forgotten to bring my camera with this time, so all pictures are snagged of the restaurant’s Web site. I assure you it really tasted as good as it looks on the photos.
Until recently I had such a hard time in finding good food and it was quite embarrassing when visitors from the Old World wanted to try exquisite, authentic New York cuisine. Now I’ve found some joints that are totally worth listing and will try to elaborate on these in the following few weeks! Cheers to more tasty food experiences!