Las Poblanitas is the Perfect Place to Spend Cinco de Mayo
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.
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:
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…
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.)
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.
I asked if I could do one chile relleno taco, one pernil taco, and one chicken taco, and they gladly obliged.
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.
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.
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.
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