Flatiron Lunch: Uncle Moe’s For Flatiron Mexican Cravings
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between – but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
As someone who has lived in Houston and Denver, I love Mexican food. Really, any type of cuisine influenced by Mexican food: Tex-Mex, Southwestern, other types I have yet to discover. Uncle Moe’s strikes the sweet spot that so many others in New York miss (see my post about Rocking Horse Café, another Mexican restaurant that got it right, for further clarification about my opinions about New York Mexican restaurants.) The fact that Uncle Moe’s looked promising when I walked, by combined with a recommendation from a friend, meant I had to give it a try.
The atmosphere was immediately endearing and welcoming: mariachi music was playing loudly; a string of Mexican flags hung from the ceiling; photos decorate a white tile wall with vintage-y photos of Mexican restaurants in the US (I have theories about what town the photos are from, but bonus points to the reader who can confidently identify these taco shops); another wall features a mural; and lastly, the seating area is spacious. All good things in my book.
The menu at Uncle Moe’s was fairly overwhelming with 15 different filling options that can be incorporated into burritos, tacos, platters and a few other dishes. After hemming and hawing for a couple minutes, I decided to take the plunge with the 2 Item Platter ($9.25) since it would allow me to try more items.
Really, I wanted to try the chile relleno since it is a Zilinski Family staple. (My dad used to have monthly lunches with a friend to eat their way through the chile rellenos of Denver. The apple does fall far…) As my second item, I went for a chile Colorado taco which was described as slow cooked pork shoulder in a spicy sauce.
The relleno reminded me of a thin, dense omelette over a cheese stuffed pepper. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t light and fluffy like our family spot in Denver. I suspect that the rellenos are made in advance and reheated when ordered. The pork taco perfectly hit the spot. It is certainly more Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican, with shredded lettuce and copious amounts of pico de gallo. The pork didn’t seem spicy to me at all, but I noticed a tomato flavor on the meat.
In addition to the two main items above, the platter also came with a generous helping of beans and rice, sour cream, guacamole, and five huge tortilla chips. In fact, I measured the size of the take out container at about 9 inches in diameter. I could challenge you to eat the whole thing, but that would be foolish of me. The rice and beans were addictive, which I suspect is a result of the addition of lard, aka the secret weapon. They have two bean options so for the platter I went with what looked like refried pinto beans.
I knew I wanted to try one more thing and finally landed on the chalupa which was listed as a tostada with meat or vegetable ($4.75.) The fillings options once again overwhelmed me, until I picked the barbacoa. The chalupa started with a layer of beans (this time I went with black beans). The barbacoa was fairly simple in flavors, but incredibly tender, and it paired well with whatever toppings I added.
For those of you that might head to Uncle Moe’s for a quick take out lunch, please note they have a salsa bar hiding next on the side counter. I tried the medium, roasted tomato, and mild salsas. All where outstanding and not spicy for me. I recommend loading up on salsas to mix and match with your meal. It is also worth noting that my friend who is a regular loves the sides, especially the corn, the horchata, and the rice pudding empanada for dessert. When I pressed for anything she doesn’t like about Uncle Moe’s the best she come up with was that the burritos are almost too big. Sounds like the perfect fit for ML.
Uncle Moe’s Burrito & Taco Shop, 14 West 19th Street btwn Fifth and Sixth Avenues, (212) 727-9400
P.S. For those of you traveling to Denver and interested in the Zilinski Family favorite dive Mexican restaurant, it is Brewery Bar II (don’t get fooled by Brewery Bar III or IV). Order #6 with medium green chili sauce.