Las Poblanitas is the Perfect Place to Spend Cinco de Mayo

Las Poblanitas

There’s a big part of me that wants $5 curry from Go Go Curry today (today is their second anniversary), but there’s another part of me that knows today should be all about the Mexican food.  Even though people complain that there is no good Mexican food in New York City, we do have a decent number of options in Midtown.  There’s the two El Rey del Sabor carts (60th & 3rd, 49th & 3rd), Pampano Taqeria, a bunch of tamale options, and if you are willing to trek to 10th Ave., Tehuitzingo (btw. 47+48th) and Tulcingo del Valle (btw. 46+47th.)  Or, you can hit up Mamacita’s favorite Mexican spot: Las Poblanitas.

Our beloved Happy Hour correspondent has been trying to get me to go to Las Poblanitas for a years now (long before she started contributing to the site in an official capacity.)  Just out of bounds (on 38th btw. 8+9th), if you’ve ever walked by 38th & 8th during lunch before you have undoubtedly seen the guy holding the sign pointing you towards tacos, tamales, and burritos.  If you haven’t before, you would be wise to follow the arrow on that sign.

Las Poblanitas

When eating at a new place it’s always good to take the advice of somebody who knows it well.  Here’s what Mamacita had to say about Las Poblanitas:

A few years ago, when I was working at the NY Public Library at Bryant Park (the one with the lions, not the library across the street) I used to take long walks around Midtown desperately searching for Mexican food. I was extremely homesick. That’s when I found my number one lunch place: Los Poblanitas. I urged Zach to lunch there knowing that despite being out of the ML boundaries you could make it there and back to the office in an hour. Which is what I did for many a month.

My favorite dishes tend to be at the steam trays up front. Specials change daily, but at least once I’ve enjoyed a delicious steak in tomatillo sauce with rice and beans. Plus they give you an unlimited choice of salsa verde, roja or pico de gallo with your order. On the menu, I’ve had the pork tacos that come with pineapple chunks, the carne asada and the tamales. I thought the tamales were a bit dry and not hearty enough, but I may have just gotten a bad batch. The tortas make for an easy and portable lunch and I especially like that they have pickled jalapenos inside along with a big hunk of mozzarella and avocado. By far the star of the show is their Mole Pipian (also called Mole Verde). The thick, bright green mole comes with juicy hunks of chicken and a side of refried beans and rice. Almost as good as mom makes, just don’t tell her I said that.

The first time we went, I tried a few different things:

Las Poblanitas

The chicken burrito was fine, but as you can see it required a knife and fork (I like to pick my burritos up with my hands.) The guac was a nice touch though. I can’t remember if this was $3.75 (like the sign says) or $8 like the menu said. (The menu said rice and beans, so maybe this was $3.75? That seems pretty damn cheap.) Sorry that I don’t remember…

Las Poblanitas

The torta with milaneza de res (breaded beef) was also good, but I’ve definitely had better tortas.

And finally, the taco de pastor- which was good as well… but they put pineapple in it. Very strange (although I guess not that strange.)

Las Poblanitas

On my second trip I tried heeding Mamacita’s advice, and ended up with a much better lunch! Sadly they didn’t have mole pipian in the steam table the day I was there, but they did have some delicious looking pernil (roast pork), and the little battered and fried chile rellenos that we had seen in taco form on the first visit.

Las Poblanitas

I asked if I could do one chile relleno taco, one pernil taco, and one chicken taco, and they gladly obliged.

Las Poblanitas

The pernil taco was good, but they didn’t take the meat out of the steam table (which looked better than what ended up in my taco that came out from the back.) The meat was cubed rather than shredded and even though it was still good, was probably my least favorite of the three.

Las Poblanitas

The chicken was better, which is surprising because it’s not often that chicken trumps pork. The chicken was a dry filling, in a good way- because I hate when places have that wet shredded chicken nonsense. (That’s just a personal preference of course. You may like the wet chicken better…) This stuff was crispy and tasty and super nice.

Las Poblanitas

But the best was probably the chile relleno taco. I mean… a green chile stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried. Served in two corn tortillas with real Mexican rice? Amazing.

Las Poblanitas

Even the fresh peppers on top didn’t make it spicy, and it wasn’t as good as the version I had from Tortilleria Nixtamal, at the Village Voice Choice Eats event, but whatever. This is Midtown people… what do you expect? This is as good as it’s going to get for us.

The filling in all three of the tacos could have used a bit more salt, but that was a problem easily fixed by a generous pour of their salsa verde. One word of caution though. While you would be wise to follow the man with the sign standing on 38th & 8th, don’t be confused by the prices. The 3 “tacos de carnes” for $5 are hard tacos with ground beef. My plate of deliciousness was $7.50, and it’s not hard to see that the extra $2.50 was well spent.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Great cheap and authentic Mexican food
  • Battered and fried Chile rellenos are delicious! Put them in taco form, and I’m sold.
  • Really delicious chicken tacos
  • Solid tortas and burritos
  • They have real salsa verde (Chipotle, your salsa verde sucks!)
  • According to Mamacita, you can go wrong ordering anything out of the steam tables

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The chicken tacos were better than the pork tacos!  That’s not right…
  • The pernil is cubed rather than shredded
  • I don’t like pineapple in my tacos!
  • The tacos were a tad bit bland without the salsa verde
  • I don’t like greasy food, and the tacos were super greasy
  • Mamacita says the tamales are a tad bit dry

Las Poblanitas, 302 W. 38th St. (btw. 8+9th) , 212-629-0090


  • Those Tacos look lovely.

    But the poor guy with the sign….he’s thinking i swam the Rio Grande and walked for 4 nights for this?

  • Tacos al pastor usually have pineapple, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had them without pineapple. It’s not on the menu, but you can also get tacos al pastor at Tehuitzingo and they have pineapple in them too.

  • Also had tacos al pastor in Mexico and they had pineapple, but in fairness this was in the yucatan and they do a lot of weird shit.

  • @Tom – Yeah, clearly that’s the case. That’s why I put the link to the Serious Eats post… I guess I’ve never had al pastor tacos before!

  • In Mexico, you’ll see the meat being cut off the gyro looking thing, there’s a pineapple atop it. It’s to tenderize/flavor the meat. Haven’t been to Las Poblanitas in years, I guess I’ll stop by today. They need to hook up with the lingerie/dvd store and offer a special, ha ha.

  • @ Tom- the al pastor tacos are on the menu at Tehuitzingo- $2.75 each.
    ( )

    @Zach- Did you enjoy the ceiling visuals?

    ( – if you missed it )

    Don’t write off the tortas at Las Poblanitas, the chorizo torta is quite good.

  • fantastic food porn! but ….. it’s Tuesday, I need my Freak of the Week fix!

  • I’m going to Sunset Park (Brklyn) for lunch today. I’m craving a chile relleno!

    Additional note: the service at Poblanitas is really friendly, but it helps if you speak spanish. Also, if you love refried beans they make them really good here. I’m sure there’s some lard being used (can’t get more authentic than that). Mummmmm beans…..

  • Those pics bring to mind a very serious issue:

    Is swine flu transmittable via breathing in an infected person’s fart?

  • OMG. Mamacita, how did we miss the ceiling!!! No wonder my kid was so content sitting in his stroller staring up at the ceiling…

  • Ok— I am with Cosiliscous— where is my freak o’ the week? Second, I have seen a number of pictures of your kid Zach, and even got to meet him in person— He always has a smile of perfect contentment and joy— From OTB, to Papa Perrones to Los Poblanitas…

  • Tehuitzingo is amazing, but this weather is most unrelenting. I think I’m getting a cafeteria salad.

    íQué Lástima!

  • @fressagirl – They did update their menus recently, and their prices! I think all the tacos went up 25 to 50 cents.

  • Zach takes little Harry to the nicest places. OTB gambling, scantly clad hoochies, grease trucks. He’s going to grow up to buy his own double-wide trailer ;-P

  • Where is Stevenp lately?

    Did he freeze to death outside that Korean chicken place….waiting for…….:)

  • Did someone say a double-wide? And maybe mullets?

  • This place is great, and I have a fun/strange story about how I found it.
    I love tacos and I’m spoiled by living near ‘El Paso Taqueria’ So I tried this small place near 39st and 8th (Rinconcito Mexicano‎). It wasn’t bad and and it more or less put and end to my cravings, some things there are better than others, the tacos just being so so.So a few days later when I wanted another taco I was happy to head that way.
    When I arrived on 39th street, the police had shut off the entire st because the construction hole in the ground next to Rinconcito had started to collapse making the building the restaurant was in unstable. I had a super hearty craving and walked away with a rumbling in my stomach that I thought I would not be able to satisfy.
    Boy was I wrong.
    I saw the Poblanitas sign guy standing in the street a block and my heart almost skipped a beat. Not only would I be able to still get mexican the prices seemed like they were typical of the real deal, you know the way it should be, $1-2 tamales! My spirits were raised, but I was still apprehensive, that is tille the moment I walked in the door. I smelled the aroma of the food, I heard the wafting of trumpets pumping from the juke box, and I knew it was going to be good.
    I remember getting an al pastor taco and I think a chorizo taco and I was pleasantly surprised to find the had horchata (oh lovely sweet drink that goes so perfectly with spicy food!). I couldn’t believe my fortune, and then my favorite part happened. I sat down, waited for my food, and right after it came…one of the waitresses walks out of the bathroom with the biggest smile on her face followed by an enormous cloud of pot smoke. I could not help but smile. Ah such a strange and lovely day:)

  • fyi on the 3.75 burrito thing: it doesn’t exist. when i asked the waitress, she told me it was actually $4 and is a small burrito. the one pictured looks like the large burrito and is indeed $8 like the menu says.

  • awwww…. Rudy misses me. *blush* Been traveling a bit, watching the Red Sox kick the Spankees’ collective butts (nice team there, Goats–a real bunch of overpaid winners–I mean whiners!), and starting early on the tasty tequila today.

    Rudy, do they even have tequila across the pond?

  • Zach, you have probably had good al pastor before, which doesn’t have pineapple actually in it, but atop the spit (to find a place with a spit!). I’m not saying it’s never in there and let the “well, on my spring break…” or “my child was raised by a Mexican…” or “I had swine flu so I know what’s authentic…” comments flow. I have had both, north and south of the border, in many US and Mexican states and typically, not always, the ratio of pineapple increases with proximity to gringos and prices on the menu (and here’s a news flash, that taco you got in downtown PV or Revolucion in TJ might not be totally authentic). However, to state all this really doesn’t do anything to forward the debate, and there is a debate. Instead let me just have to ask you, would you rather taste sweet porkiness or the inside of a dole pineapple can? Would you trust somebody’s pizza opinions if they ordered it hawaiian? One bad apple might not ruin the whole bunch, but I think one pineapple can ruin a good al pastor taco. Sin pina, por favor.

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