Bisteck a la Mexicana is the star of La Seleccion.
“I’m sorry my friend. After tomorrow, no more tortas for you,” Galdino “Tortas” Molinero said as I perused the menu of Tortas Neza. The six-month permit for his mobile temple of tortas and fútbol runs out on Halloween, but Tortas is closing shop the day before.
“But where shall I go to procure a Mexican soccer themed sandwich the size of my head in the middle of the night,” I thought. Actually that’s a lie my thoughts were more like, “Better try something I haven’t had before.” That’s how I wound up eating a not so little number called La Seleccion ($9). Like of all of his sandwiches it’s named after a Mexican fútbol club and is so messy that I took my watch off. (I also removed my jacket and did a warm up stretch.) (more…)
As I wrote earlier this week the ginormous Pumas from Corona’s Tortas Neza, is one of my favorite sandwiches in Queens. It’s named for the truck’s owner’s favorite soccer team. The truck offers many other slightly less titanic sandwiches, each named for a Mexican soccer team. About a month ago some pals and I met up with James Boo to help him produce the above video love letter “to the moment of celebration when your oversized, painstakingly assembled sandwich hits the counter, informing you that those dinner plans will have to be postponed.” Tortas Neza is also one of the many food trucks and vendors that will be at the upcoming Viva La Comida! festival in Jackson Heights.
There are a lot of sandwiches to be had in Queens, so for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday, I thought I’d call out seven of my favorites. Some are big, and some are small, but they’re all delicious and hold a special place in my heart and stomach.
Each sandwich is about the size of your head.
1. Tortas Pumas,Tortas Neza You’ll need to round up some amigos to help you eat this $14 behemoth from Queens’ tastiest torta truck. The ingredients include headcheese, a chorizo omelet, and fried hot dogs. 111th St. and Roosevelt Avenue, Corona
Scotch bonnet pepper sauce makes it even more bangin’.
2. Bangamary Sandwich,Sybil’s Restaurant & Bakery A crunchy fried fillet of bangamary—also known as the king weakfish—is tucked into a Guyanese roll. What makes this sandwich ($6) truly great though is a medley of condiments, including tamarind and tartar sauce. A bit of fruity, fiery Scotch bonnet sauce sends the whole thing into the flavor stratosphere. 132-17 Liberty Ave., Richmond Hill, 718-835-9235(more…)
Thanks to Gary Stevens for turning me on to this great piece on Wai Wai, the Nepalese snack that’s become something of an obsession for me. In it the author describes how the noodles eaten raw were the province of the cool kids in his school. Nice to know I’m finally one of the cool kids.
Max Falkowitz waxes rhapsodic about his favorite steakhouse, and it’s not Peter Luger’s, but rather Argentinean steakhouse El Gauchito in Corona. “The crust is a rich, purple-tinged mahogany, heavily dosed with salt; it gives way to a buttery, resoundingly beefy interior without a trace of chewiness,” he writes of the skirt steak. Have a feeling I’ll be going there soon. (more…)
The Puma from Tortas Neza is big enough to feed your entire team.
Despite the Mets colors that I often fly I like to say that I’m more of a Queens fan than a fan of the beleaguered ball club. One thing that I’m surely a fan of is my home borough’s diverse and delicious food. So as a public service to baseball fans—native New Yorkers and tourists alike—I devote this week’s edition of The Seven to a lineup of places to eat before and after the 2013 MLB All-Star Game being held tomorrow night at Citi Field at 7:30 p.m. (more…)
Even though I am as Italian-American as the cuisine I always feel somewhat out of place at Park Side, the 30-year-old red sauce temple overlooking Corona’s bocce court. Granted I’ve only been twice, but both times I’ve felt as if I were relegated to the children’s table at a family Thanksgivng. Perhaps it is too much for a pezzonovante like myself to expect to dine on the main floor.
A few weeks ago I dined there with some food writer pals, including Max Falkowitz, editor of Serious Eats New York. I showed up in a summer weight suit, sporting a tie and cuff links. My dining companions were neatly dressed, but I seemed to be the sole standard-bearer of Italian-American swag. Even without the disparity in our attire the truth is I still would have felt out of place. The glitzy Marilyn room calls to mind my Uncle Carmine’s house were it eight times bigger and filled with strangers. (more…)
Jorgito’s ceviche is topped with crunchy, salty maize cancha.
The best ceviche de pescado I ever had came from a sweet Peruvian lady’s cooler. She sold it streetside in the Diamond District. Every Friday I’d buy one for lunch, and devour it greedily at my desk, She’s long gone now, but my soft spot for fish cooked in lime juice served streetside remains. Last weekend when I saw Cevicheria Jorgito, a cart on 111th Street just off La Roosie, my heart and stomach lept up. About half an hour and 30 blocks prior I’d had a Mexican style coktel, and was starting to feel hungry again.
Jorgito’s cart lies a corn kernel’s throw from the 7 line.
I was a little disappointed when I found out Jorgito’s ceviche is the soupier Ecuadorean style. I prefer the Peruvian version, which is more of salad. This disappointment did not deter me from handing over $6 for a small container of ceviche de pescado. Bits of cooked corvina bobbed in the cool tomato soup, alongside a surprise ingredient, chewy morsels of yucca. Topped with salty toasted corn kernels and a squirt or three of bright orange hot sauce it was a nice snack. It’s great to find Mexican and Ecuadorean ceviches on La Roosie. Now if I could just find a Peruvian one all my streetside seafood needs would be met.
Cevicheria Jorgito, 111 St., north side of Roosevelt Avenue, weekends only
Sweet and cold, El Bohio’s shaved ice is a harbinger of even warmer days.
Forget that groundhog. The real indicator of the arrival of warm weather is the ice cream man. Or in Corona, the shaved ice man, specifically the dude who sets up in the window in front of El Bohio Grocery. The other day after eating enough Thai food for an army I took a long walk up Roosevelt Avenue and was delighted to see that El Bohio’s shaved ice—or frio frio as Dominicans like to call it—was in full effect. (more…)
About a week ago I had the honor of appearing on Travel Channel’s Street Eats: U.S.A. for a segment on street foods in New York City. For those who didn’t get to see it and for those who crave more curbside cuisine I’ve devoted this week’s edition of The Seven to street food. Here then in no particular order are seven of my current street food faves. Some appeared on the show, and some some didn’t. Have a favorite street food you think I left out? Let me know in the comments, or hit me up on the Twitter, @JoeDiStefano.
1. Pedro El Cevichero I first encountered Pedro’s sidewalk ceviche outside a market in Elmhurst. His Mexican ceviche mise en place includes olive oil, limes, onions, cilantro, and a tomato-based sauce. South of the Border ceviche is called coctele, as in shrimp cocktail. It’s more of a cold seafood soup than the Peruvian version. Pedro makes it right before your very eyes. It’s like watching a seafood mixologist as you listen to the 7 train rumble by overhead. Shrimp cocteles are available in three sizes ($8, $10, $12). The excellent mixto, shrimp and octopus is ($6, $8, $10). Find Pedro at Roosevelt Ave. and 80th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
2. Baul Daada Jaal Muri Shop This is not so much a shop as a streetside Bangladeshi chaat vendor. As the name implies there’s only one specialty here, jaal muri. Three bucks gets you an order of Baul Daada’s spicy puffed rice. It’s a sensory overload of a snack consisting of puffed rice, kala chana (black chickpeas) chopped tomatoes, cilantro, green chili paste, red onions, crunchy dried soybeans, cilantro, spicy fried noodles, and squirts and shakes from the various and sundry bottles, including some sinus-clearing mustard oil. Find Daada on 73 St. near 37 Ave. from late afternoon to around 10 p.m. weather permitting. (more…)
The first time I tried the Andean delicacy cuy was in a Peruvian joint in the Bronx called Chim Pum Callao. The owners were clearly proud of their product. They had the waiter show us the guinea pig—frozen, butterflied, and flat as a board—in a package emblazoned with the Peruvian flag. What came out of the kitchen was nothing to be proud of though. Little had been done to the critter other than deep frying. What meat there was dry, stringy, and devoid of flavor. Eventually I tried it roasted on a rotisserie at El Pequeño Coffee Shop in Jackson Heights. It was pretty good, almost like a cross between pork and rabbit.
Years later I would see little old Ecuadorean ladies in Flushing-Meadows Corona Park slow spit roasting cuy over charcoal fires. It looked absolutely delicious, like a miniature suckling pig. Once while walking home through the park I encountered a New York Times reporter who did a video interview with me about the delicacy. So when Nathan Vickers, a student at Columbia Journalism School, contacted me to talk cuy and then invited me to eat roast guinea pig at the home of an Ecuadorean family in Corona I jumped at the chance. We hung out with the family and listened to tales of guinea pig smuggling while they slowly roasted the cuy. It had spent the better part of a day in a garlicky marinade so the aroma coming off it as it cooked was incredible. And the end result was truly delicious. It’s experiences like that day that make me glad to live in Queens, one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet.