By Jason D Antos
Enjoying the Flavors of Mexican Cuisine
Since the late 1990s, the Mexican community has found a home in Astoria, joining the extended family of Greek, German, Italian and Middle Eastern cultures who also call the area “home.”
The focus here is on sizzling pollo, spicy carne and plates filled with colorful vegetables, a splash of lime and an ice-cold cerveza on the side.
Over the past 25 years, Mexican restaurants have exploded in Astoria with each location featuring a unique offering from various regions of the country. Like all the restaurants featured in Give Me Astoria, they are slowly getting back on their feet after many months of being shut down and undergoing limited dining. With restrictions lifting month by month, Astorians are returning to their favorite Mexican restaurants to enjoy the delicious flavors the way they’re enjoyed south of the border every day.
Here are some of our top picks!
Las Catrinas Mexican Bar & Eatery
Tacos are the star attraction at this popular location. Favorites prepared by Chef Leopoldo Tapia, whose cooking style hails from Tulum, Mexico, include the Al Pastor taco with spit-roasted pork, pineapple, cilantro and onion, while the Carne Asada features zesty grilled steak, cilantro and onion. Patrons also enjoy the Camaron, which contains mouth-watering shrimp, white cabbage, red onion, cilantro, carrot and raspberry-chipotle salsa. Come and enjoy the taste of Mexico’s Riviera Maya!
32-02 Bdwy. | 917.745.0969 | @lascatrinasnyc
Chela & Garnacha
It all began with a small food truck in Manhattan in 2009. After five successful years, Chela & Garnacha opened their restaurant location in Astoria in 2014. Family-owned-and-operated, this popular business focuses on high quality and intense Mexican flavors. The family prepares the food in the style one would find in the heart of Mexico City. Enjoy house favorites like Acapulco style ceviche (Spanish Mackerel or Corvina), Bistec en Pasilla which features top round steak marinated in beer and pasilla sauce, Milanesa de Res which is breaded steak and salsa verde and, last but not least, Pollo Desebrado: shredded chicken and red salsa.
33-09 36th Ave. / 917.832.6876 / @chelagarnacha
At Viva Viva, patrons can enjoy delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup made with homemade tomatillo guajillo broth, shredded chicken, corn, black beans and tortilla strips topped with avocado and sour cream. Other delights include Diabla Spicy Shrimp tacos and Cochinta Pibil which is slow-roasted pork marinated in achiote sauce, pickled red onion, cilantro and habanero salsa. Complete the meal with their must-try classic, Tres Leches: a three-milk cake with Chantilly creme and berries.
34-10 30th Ave. | 718.255.6744 | @vivaviva.nyc
Growing up in Mexico City watching his father and grandfather cook was Julian Medina’s introduction to cooking. Medina started his career as a restaurant owner when he opened Toloache in NYC in August 2007. A few years ago, in 2015, he opened Tacuba across from Kaufman Studios. Indulge in amazing creations like the Enchiladas de Pollo, featuring two rolled tortillas with shredded roasted chicken, salsa verde, Mexican cheeses, crema, avocado and radish salad. Other appetizing selections include Carnitas which is braised, shredded suckling pig, chicharron, guacamole, corn tortilla, pico de gallo and orange-habanero salsa. You can’t go wrong with the house favorite, Fajitas de Alambre: your choice of chicken, beef or vegetable mixed with peppers, onion, mushrooms, Mexican cheeses, guacamole, chipotle salsa and flour tortillas.
35-01 36th St. | 718.786.2727 | @tacubaastoria
They have an amazing Taco Tuesday special, which is the ideal excuse to try their Pollo Robado Taco, filled with juicy chicken meat, and topped with a cilantro crema that will blow your socks off. Do you need any more reasons to visit? I think not!
12-14 31st Ave. | 347.808.7338 | @frescoscantina