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


  • I worked right near there for almost 9 years and never went in that place – the patina of grease on the windows was always a serious turnoff. The food looks surprisingly OK considering. But not enough to get me back in that dump of a neighborhood. :)

  • Maybe that last post was a little strong, but people’s definitiveness on the subject gets me redder than a properly marinated al pastor spit. Anyway, does anyone in the pineapple, or non-pineapple camp, know of a place that has a rodizo for their pastor, or more importantly a place that serves the traditional salsa de aguacate condiment? Please don’t suggest guacamole, as I mean the super-soupy/spicy runny liquid you poor on, sometimes spoonable(like me), once appropriately served to me in a small tied plastic drug bag by a 9 year old working a truck at 8th and Normandie.

  • Las Palomas makes the super runny aguacate sauce. 45th btw 8th and 9th.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    i went there for lunch after reading the post hopeing for a good taco. the service sucked the food sucked and i paid 16.50 for three beef tacos and a 7 dollar place you do the math. The casier didnt give me a reciept because so didnt ring up my order,she only open the register to gve me my 50 cent change. when i asked for sause for the tacos she told me it was not free and charged me for taco sause it like charging people for ketchup if theybuy french fies the people who work there as well at the owner should be reported investigated and deported for thier bad food bad service and dishonest handling of money. LAS PALOMAS IF YOU DONT UNDERSTAND WHAT IM SAYING IS YOU SUCK

  • Woah the guy above really didn’t have a good time, i’m still going to try it since it’s close to the wasteland of 34th st.

  • OK I am totally late to the game, but nobody has yet mentioned the carnitas! It’s hard to beat pork boiled in pork fat with some extra pork skin thrown in for good measure!

    Yum. My new favorite lunch!

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Sadly, closed.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.