I’ve passed Cienega Grocery & Deli dozens and dozens of times in my perambulations through Corona. I’ve always meant to stop in this Mexican grocer/restaurant. The other day the stars aligned in such a way that I poked my head in and learned that this humble deli specializes in the seldom-seen cuisine of Oaxaca, in the country’s Southwest. “Que es tlayuda?” read a hand lettered menu board. “Tortilla gigante de maiz orginaria de Oaxaca,” it continued, listing several options, including al pastor and chorizo.
I don’t if I was more excited to read Oaxaca or tortilla gigante. “Do you have chivo?” I asked. Once I got through the formalities and told them I knew what chivo was, I asked for a tlayuda topped with goat and eagerly awaited the arrival of the mystery antojito.
When the menu said gigantic tortilla I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The tlayuda as it turns out is a Mexican pizza of sorts, and it is phenomenally good.The crunchy charred tortilla like “crust” is smeared with refried black beans, topped with shredded quesillo cheese, shredded cabbage, tomato, avocado, and in my case, chivo. Oaxacan style chivo is denser than others I’ve had and packs the complex heat of guajillo chilies. I also detected the licorice-like flavor of epazote.
The $11 tlayuda de chivo was a filling taste sensation that brightened up a rainy Saturday. So filling that I felt like saying tlayudame, after eating the whole thing by myself. I haven’t been this excited since I discovered the falafel slice.
Cienega Grocery & Deli, 104-32 Corona Ave., Corona, 718-271-0532