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Café Ollin – Plate 50
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Café Ollin – Plate 50

What is the deal with people saying there’s no good mexican in this town? I think the problem with those people is that they expect the good mexican to be in someplace like midtown or the village. News flash everyone, you can’t stay in lower manhattan and get all the best food in thje world. Yes, there is more competition in those areas that I mentioned, but there aren’t as many discriminating palates of each ethnic persuasion field testing the wares of each of the restaurants. In Spanish Harlem, the mexican restaurants that are still around are the ones that beat out the rest of them on taste and quality. If you are unwilling to take a bus to find good food in New York City, there is a whole other world of cuisines that you’re missing out on.

That being said, this is Dave Cook’s favorite Mexican place in the city (link to his site). The site is dedicated to finding the most interesting ethnic spots in the city, and he’s got a ton of them. What impressed Jessica, Lon, and I about the menu was the options. Steak, Carnitas, Chicken, Chorizo, Goat, Tongue … we made full use of them with our ordering.

We had the Steak, Goat, and Tongue Tacos (above), the Roast Pork Cemita (left), and the Chile Rellenos (pic). The tongue and the goat were our favorites; the steak taco seemed plain in comparison. The cheese, the sour cream and the fresh avocado was all you needed for this unbelievable taco dish, but there were two salsas available and I used them both. I really can’t say enough about the tacos here. Lon said that he’d come back and try the torta, but if I came back, I’d get the tacos again, I would just get more styles.

The roast pork cemita was not too bready. The one at Xochimilco (link) was good and hollowed out already, but it was with a chicken cutlet, so the breading was a tad much for me. I liked this one better. This is definitely a dish for two; it’s absolutely huge.

The chile rellenos were tasty but they were in a sauce that was almost a broth. I’m sure that in the Oaxaca area, this is how it’s done, but I guess I like mine a little more jalapeño popper-ish than the way these were served. They were tasty, and I had them in a taco with the beans and rice. I had a second one even though it was my least favorite item of the meal – the cheese was of excellent quality.

I’ve wanted to try Horchata (pic) ever since I heard about it in that new Vampire Weekend song. I’m so hip. If you didn’t know, it’s a rice milky thing (wiki) with some nuts and spices throughout. I would have certainly slammed this entire cup if I was able to take a nap immediately following my sugar rush I would have received by indulging.

In short; Great (I repeat GREAT) Mexican on the island is at Café Ollin. Take the 6 to 110th and you’ll realize that life above the park isn’t too bad. This is a food excursion right in your own backyard.

Here’s the breakdown on video:

Guest Writer: Jessica and Lon Binder

The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Café Ollin for providing this meal.

Café Ollin
339 East 108th St
New York, NY 10029
(212) 828-3644

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