11 Doyers Street (nr. Bowery) New York, NY
Date Dined: 1/14/12
Located on one of the hardest streets to find in New York and underground in a basement accessed through an unmemorable door, Pulqueria has successfully hidden itself from the general public. Once past the bouncer and inside, the dim lighting, lively music, hipster crowd and high-end cocktails makes this the sexiest Mexican restaurant I have ever been to. I made a reservation here to spend some much needed quality catch up time with some of my friends after the craziness of the holidays and it was definitely a good choice for such an occasion. The creative cocktails (one would expect no less from Siblings Heather and Christopher Tierney of neighboring Apothéke) and fresh ingredients of our food made the meal worthwhile while the bustling bar scene in the other room and the full tables in the dining area added to the vibe.
The service was a bit spotty. A few of us arrived ahead of the others in our group and were checked on every couple of minutes. Once the rest of the group arrived, waiters were nowhere to be found. Once we tracked one down, we ordered everything to share for the table and ended up with a bit too much food for a night out on the town but we enjoyed tasting all of the dishes nontheless.
Guacamole: My friends are big into anything that can be dipped so we needed a few orders of this classic-style guacamole served with baskets of warm, glistening house-made tortilla chips.
Esquites: Grilled corn off the cob served in a mug and seasoned with epazote, chile piquin, mayo, queso fresco and lime. The sweet corn, creamy cheese, spicy chile and tangy lime hit all the taste buds.
Ensalada de Mango: A mixed green salad topped with cilantro, mango, jicama, avocado, queso freso and añejo dressed with a tomatillo-serrano vinaigrette was fresh but not memorable in flavor.
Salsas Especiales: A selection of five different salsas from different regions of Mexico. Only two of them were worth eating in my opinion but maybe the rest are an acquired taste.
Quesadillas de Iglesia: Golden masa filled half-moon filled with Hongos (queso Oaxaca and mushrooms) or Tinga de pollo (queso oaxaca and spicy chichen). We ordered both varieties and I had a bite of the chicken. The crispy dough was much more like a puff pastry bursting with spicy pulled chicken and topped with the crumbly cheese than what you think of when you imagine a gooey flattened quesadilla. Very tasty.
Cochinita Pibil Tacos: These overstuffed little tacos were difficult to eat with all of the slow-roasted pork and avocado. They were very very tasty. Topped with beautiful bright purple pickled onions they were kind of like a Mexican-style pulled pork taco.
Enchiladas Suizas: I won’t call myself a connoisseur of Mexican food by any means but this was hands down the best enchilada I have ever had. The key was the sauce. The dish almost looked like a split pea soup with some onions and cheese thrown on top but but I was very thankful for the generous amount of tangy, creamy tomatillo sauce that filled the bowl. The enchilada stuffed with chicken that was incredibly tender and the combination of everything was perfection. A must order.
There were a few other dishes that I didn’t have a chance to sample although they looked delicious as well. The first was the Enchiladas de Jamaica (served with sauteed hibiscus flowers, tomato-chipotle cream sauce, crema and queso fresco) and the other was the Enchiladas mole poblano (in a classic puebla recipe of “3 Days Mole” and locally farm-raised chicken).
Overall, I would have to say this was one of the best Mexican meals I have had in a while. Pulqueria is the perfect place to have dinner with a group before a night out or just meet at the lively bar for a drink or two.