Milestone Mexican misfortune.

Good news!  This entry is (more or less) my 75th food-review entry in this blog.  If it were a wedding anniversary, you’d be downright amazed that I was still alive – now I know how my doctor feels.  In other milestone news, I’ve now eaten at 33 of Sietsema’s top 100 cheap eats lists (not counting the one I didn’t eat at before it closed).  You think, well, at 365 days in a year, I should have this banged out in about five months, right?  Um, yeah.  Considering that I printed out five other lists, started reading chowhound, and (more recently) acquired Sietsema’s recent book, I doubt I’ll be done any time soon.

The 33rd restaurant was, specifically, Tulcingo del Valle Grocery, on 10th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, and (much like Mexicali) I was thoroughly disappointed.  Admittedly, I may not have approached this restaurant with the usual thoroughness – instead of reading Sietsema’s full review online before departing, I relied on the list-blurb (#12, if you’re keeping score at home) for recommendations.  This proved to be a problem, because the mole poblano I thought he was talking about was unavailable last night.  (As it turns out, he also recommends that sauce, but the blurb was talking the “mole al estilo Tulcingo.”)

Never fear, I thought.  We’ll try the sandwiches of poblano, called cemitas, and I’ll order beef tongue while steering my roommate towards the more conventional dried beef.  Surely a sandwich won’t be disappointing, right?

Wrong.  The sandwiches were nearly inedible, for reasons we couldn’t fully explain.  It wasn’t bad avocados – they seemed agreeably mushy.  The white cheese seemed to be okay, too, and my roommate got his without.  Could it have been bad chipotle sauce?  The bad flavor and worse smell seemed to be emanating more from that area than anywhere else…or perhaps I don’t know what real chipotle tastes like?  Either way, we could both taste it for hours afterwards, and it left us shaking our heads.

As to the meats contained therein: my roommate wasn’t wild about the dried beef, which was tough to chew through.  I’d agree, though we had a momentary visual confusion as to whether he was accidentally was served the tongue.  Assuming what I was served WAS actually tongue, it was quite tender – melt in your mouth, in fact – and I’d be curious to try it again without the ickyness nearby.

The sandwiches were expensive, unfortunately, at $7.  The guacamole and chips we were served to begin weren’t as awful, but the guac was thin and bland (like the German version entitled, forebodingly, “avocadocreme”) and the cilantro sprinkled on top was a poor substitute for actual flavor.  Honestly, if a McDonald’s subsidiary can make passable guac, in this day and age, there’s no reason to even bother with the bad stuff, particularly when it’s $4.

Just to satisfy my attempt to identify something positive about every place I go, I liked the Mexican seltzer water, and the modern-ish conquistador graphics on the wall were kind of fun (particularly the one where the dude on a horse is holding a cell phone pointed towards a satellite).  It’s just too bad the food made me want to call in a pizza.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Milestone Mexican misfortune.

  1. Spencer

    I’m sorry you had such a bad time. I’ve had great tacos and not so good tacos there (the carnitas were fantastic the first time), so maybe it’s inconsistent. For more consistent tacos, try Tehuitzingo which is nearby and for a great cemita, you can try taqueria los poblanos in brooklyn on church avenue near east 8th st. The cemita was definitely the best mexican sandwich I’ve ever had.

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