Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.
New York is notorious for not having great Mexican food. Which is partly true, but I think many of those nay sayers don’t know where to look. The best Mexican food I’ve found in this city is either from food carts or hidden all the way in the back of a generic-looking bodega on the corner. There are many of these little shops throughout Manhattan and the East Village. So I’m not surprised to discover one in the Mexican neighborhood of Sunset Park. And if I had the time to fully explore the area, I bet I’d find many more.
But it’s Time Out’s list that brought me to Puebla Mini Market. The name says it all. It’s a pretty small bodega (although not nearly as small as some of the one’s in Manhattan) that has a take out counter with tables and chairs in the back. The choices seem to consist mainly of tortas, which are toasted Mexican sandwiches. They offer more than 20 torta choices, so I was relieved that Time Out enabled me to pick one. Their choice was the Torta de la Casa (Torta of the House).
This monster consisted of three types of pork: ham, bacon, and carnitas (braised and spiced pork). Also, two types of cheese: queso fresco and an Oaxacan string cheese called quesillo. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s loaded with the condiments that every torta here receives: pickled jalapeños, onions, tomato, refried beans, and mashed avocado.
There were great things about this sandwich, but most of them consisted of the fact that it’s just a monster. It was hard to taste all the flavors in each bite and a few bites were actually rather bland. Many of the pickled jalapeños fell off the sandwich when I picked it up. Probably because the toasted bread is not made to hold this many components. But on a few occasions, when I got all the flavors in one bite, I was quite pleased with this gut-busting torta. The salty cheese, the spicy peppers (when they stayed put), the rich pork, the creamy avocado, the crispy bacon, and the crusty bread seem like the perfect combination of ingredients. And in some ways they were, but I think it was just a little too big for its britches.
But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. It filled me up pretty quickly and piqued my interest regarding the other interesting torta options (they offer everything from a Cuban to a Hawaiian to a Gringa). Sometimes you have to travel far for some great cuisine. But it’s available in this city. Trust me. You just have to know where to look.
Would Puebla Mini Market’s Torta de la Casa make my Top 100 of the year? I appreciate its huge aspirations, but it was just a bit too much for me. The ingredients were fresh and there were some great bites so it gets a 6 out of 10 with hope for other delicious tortas at this location.
|PUEBLA MINI MARKET|
|3908 5th Avenue (between 39th and 40th Street)
Sunset Park, Brooklyn