EVERYONE LIKES THIS CATAGORY, AND LONG ISLAND ABOUNDS WITH CHOICES. WE WILL TRY AND GIVE YOU A SAMPLING OF OUR FAVORITES, AND STEER YOU AWAY FROM THE RESTAURANTS THAT ARE NOT A GOOD VALUE. MOST ARE FAMILY FRIENDLY AND WE WILL TELL YOU WHEN THEY ARE NOT. ENJOY!

MANGOES, 401 Central Avenue, Bethpage NY

Mariscada en Salsa Verde

     Mangoes has been almost "around the corner” from me since 1995, and I have never heard about it until now.  How is this possible?  A friend recommended it and I was in the mood for some Latin cuisine.  Their website promises: "Mangoes Mexican Bar & Grill offer the highest quality Mexican Cuisine.  Since 1995, we have provided superior service to our customers and have assisted them in achieving their goals. Our years of experience and commitment to excellence have earned us the reputation as the best Mexican Restaurant in the area.”   After one visit, I now understand the allure!  The restaurant is fun and festive, the service is polite and courteous, the food is excellent and the prices are reasonable.  
      Of course, we began with the homemade Guacamole, which was prepared table side, to order at your desired degree of spiciness.  Not only that, but we were offered a taste - just in case we wanted to adjust the spice.  Nice.  The chips were fresh, and the salsa had the perfect degree of piquante pepper .  I cannot wait to go back to make an entire meal of the myriad of other appetizers they offer such as: queso fundido, mexican eggplant, shrimp ceviche and aquacate relleno.  Just remember if you do that, they do not skimp on your dinner!  From the House Specials, I chose a Mariscada en Salsa Verde.  This is one of my favorites, but its a risky choice because the green sauce requires a delicate balance of ingredients and the seafood needs careful cooking.  Last night, the Mariscada was heavenly. The lobster tail was tender and tasty, the mussels were all open and succulent, the scallops moist and the clams soft as butter, all served over rice and covered with a lovely balanced Salsa Verde.  I tried to eat every bite.  I almost did, except for the salad that was also served with it!!  Eating dinner with my one of my “besties” is always a treat, and she ordered the Mangoes Skillet which included Grilled and seasoned shell steak, pork chop, chicken and skirt steak served on a sizzling skillet with salad, rice & flour tortilla.  The aroma permeated the restaurant and every bite was reported to be delicious.  
     Now, I would like to report on the house-made Sangria, but I only feel safe in saying that there was not much left in that pitcher when we left our table…..  If you have not been there, try Mangoes.  You can’t beat it for service, prices and flavor in one pretty little package!!
 
  • House-made Guacamole

  • Mangoes Mixed Skillet

  • Accompanying Sides

CHICHIMECAS, Farmingdale, NY (Mexican, Authentic Smoked Meats)

Chichimecas Chicken Mole w/ Fresh Tortillas and Mexican Rice

     Here is some very exciting news from the owners of Quetzalcoatl and Oxaca in Huntington.  They have recently opened CHICHIMECAS, on Main Street, just over the tracks in Farmingdale Village.  How perfect is that for all of us living on the South Shore - we now have the convenience of walking through our own little Farmingdale Village, to get reasonably priced and perfectly cooked Mexican cuisine at Chichimecas, and the hospitality of Alex and Maria, who tell us they have a new treat: Traditional Mexican smoked meats as it was done by the Chichimecas "a group of people migrating from the North of Mexico to the center of the country.  The smoking techniques they mastered are those upon which we base our modern techniques, especially when it comes to the Mexican use of chili pepper and the spices used on the meat."  Of course, we can't forget the Chichimeca Market Place on the weekend where ther is a special brunch and dinner menu featuring dishes found in traditional Mexican markets such as barbacoa, smoked chicken & pork, hand made tortillas & quesadillas, pozole, birria soup, and more.   I haven't been there yet, but I can't wait for that.

     Although they have been open since May, 2012, last night we finally got a chance to stop into Chichimecas for an early dinner.  As is typical with all their restaurants, you can taste the love and care they take and put in to their cooking.  But first, I'd bet they make the best Margarita in town!  I couldn't resist the Chicken Mole, and I was so hoping it would be as good as Quetzalcoatl. It was.  In fact it was so good, they should serve it as a soup!!!. But seriously, It came over a tender chicken breast, shredable, with a side of mexican rice and warm tortillas to eat the chicken and sauce.  Heaven.  Interestingly, on the list of side dishes was macaroni & cheese.  I ordered it only because I was curious and didn't know what to expect here. When it came all steaming hot I was a little suspicious of what looked like sliced american cheese on top.  Nope.  I don't know how many cheeses where in there at the end, but each bite was cheesy and creamy, but not too rich.  Just right.  I'm definitely having that again.  Oh - you could top that with mole sauce too. We also had the pork fajitas which, as you can see came to the table steaming hot, perfectly cooked and seasoned, just as you would expect. 

     We were way too full for dessert after the Margarita and half a pitcher of sangria and all that dinner, plus fresh tortilla chips & guacamole, but generous as always, Alex sent out a beautiful dish of homemade rice pudding with homemade cinnamon/sugar fried tortilla chips and whipped cream.  I managed to find room for a few more bites, while Alex and my husband spent some time chatting over Mexican traditions and ideas.  What a lovely evening.

     I suppose there is always a reason to drive to the restaurant mecca of Huntington, but you no longer need to.  If you live on the South Shore, take a look at the photos above and below, then stop into Chichimecas soon.  You will not be disappointed. 

  • Chichimecas Margarita, and Sangria in the background!

  • Chichimecas Fajitas, Warm Tortillas & Side Dishes

  • Chichimecas Mac & Cheese, Don't miss this one!

Quetzalcoatl Mexican Resturant, Huntington NY

Clockwise from the top Shrimp Enciladas w/ Guajillo Sauce, Chile Relleno, Enchilladas Mole, Side orders of Rice & Black Beans, Refried Beans & Rice

     I cannot express how incredibly surprised I was by the food, service and decor of this wonderful restaurant in Huntington.  I've walked by it almost 50 times, even peeked in the windows, then ignored it in favor of the big "B" up the road.  After last night's dinner I regret all those opportunities I had and lost!  Quetzalcotl has got to be one of, if not the best Mexican restaurant on Long Island.  Why?  I think its the Mole sauce.  A classic traditional Mexican recipe with more than thirty ingredients that combine to make a deep, rich luscious sauce that is seductive and full of flavor.  It is difficult to make and I know because I've tried it.  It should not be too spicy, not too sweet - you need a perfect balance so you get full flavor and still not overwhelm whatever you put it on.  I've had it at every resturant that serves it, including my favs in NYC, and I have never, ever, had one as perfect as this one.

     Ok, I'll start at the beginning, when we walked into a beautifully decorated room that transports you into Mexico.  We were warmly greeted and shown to a table where drink orders are taken immediately.  The menu is large and comprehensive, but our waiter Carlos stopped to take the time to explain specialties and make recommendations based upon his experience with the food and growing up in Mexico.  He was right on target.  We started with an order of the guacamole, and an order of the avocado shell stuffed with sauteed shrimp.  Of course, the guacamole was delicious and fresh (without the fanfare of watching an inexperienced waiter make it in front of you, thank goodness).  The shrimp were wonderful, cooked and seasoned perfectly then tossed with diced avocado and placed back in the scooped out shell on a plate of shredded lettuce & tomato.  That could have been a light dinner in itself.  Then our waiter brought out a complimentary appetizer of taquitos filled with seasoned mashed potato and bean, accompanied by a salsa verde and cream sauce on the plate.  Wow. 

     Now, as if we hadn't had enough, Dinner.  I couldn't resist the special of the night which was: Three Enchiladas stuffed with sauteed shrimp and scallops, covered with their homemade Mole Sauce.  OMG, they should package that sauce and sell it by the quart!  Then there was the Enchiladas Huatulco, stuffed with shrimp, covered with cheese, guajillo sauce, sliced avocado and served with rice and refried beans.  Perfectly spiced, not too much cheese, excellent.  Since that was not enough, we also had to try the Chile Relleno con Queso (with cheese).  Well, by then I really couldn't eat more than a bite, but the bite I had was tangy, spicy, cheesy and perfectly fried but not greasy.  We took part of everything home.  No way was I going to order dessert when all of a sudden we got carried away and there were fried plantains, sliced thin, drizzled with a light cream sauce and melted chocolate on the table.  There are no words for how delicious they were.  To top it all off, our charming waiter brings out a complimentary order of rice pudding - just so we could try it.  Honestly, we did not need one more thing to try, but it was soooo good.  **And I need to mention here that not one entree on our check cost more than $21.00.  Nice.

     I swear, they did not know who I was or that I was going to this review.  I am not that famous.  They treat all their guests with the same care and kindness and no one leaves unhappy.  Around 6pm a wonderful guitarist began playing live music - that perfect music that leaves you feeling like you have been on vacation.  So, thank you to Carlos and all the staff at Quetzalcoatl for a lovely evening and a fantastic dinner.  We will be back soon. 

  • Quetzalcoatl Appetizers: Shrimp Stuffed Avocado Shell, and Guacamole in the background.

  • Quetzalcoatl Taquitos filled with Seasoned Potato

  • Quetzalcoatl: Dessert of Fried Plantains drizzled with chocolate and sweet cream.

Caracara Mexican Restaurant, Main St., Farmingdale

AT A RECENT VISIT TO THE NEW CARACARA, ON MAIN STREET IN FARMINGDALE, WE WERE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED WITH AN UPSCALE SPANISH/MEXICAN RESTAURANT WITH REASONABLE PRICES. YOU MUST HAVE THE AMAZING TAMALES, PICTURED BELOW. THE GUACAMOLE MADE TABLE-SIDE WAS GOOD, BUT COULD HAVE USED MORE SEASONING. THE TACO SAMPLER DINNER INCLUDED A FISH TACO, BEEF TACO AND CHICKEN TACO IN SOFT SHELLS. I HAD THE POLLO RELLENO (CHICKEN ROLLED AND STUFFED WITH POBLANO, CHEESE AND OTHER WONDERFUL STUFF). IT WAS EXCELLENT. THE MENU IS VARIED AND THE EARLY CROWD CATERS TO FAMILIES. TOP THAT OFF WITH A PITCHER OF SANGRIA AND YOU COULDN'T ASK FOR MORE? IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN THE AREA, IT'S WORTH THE TRIP!

Jan. 17, 2013

RIAZUL PREMIUM TEQUILA & CARACARA TEAM UP:

Last night we had the pleasure of dining at Caracara, a local Mexican restaurant, at a tequila tasting dinner sponsored by Riazul Premium Tequila. Caracara is an escape from the usual in Farmingdale, and the dinner was superb all the way from the guacamole, soup and scallops to the Flan de Coco. Each Course was paired with either a cocktail made from Riazul, or a straight up shot of each of their Silver, Reposado and Anjeo (my favorite). Thank you to the Owners of Caracara, and the proprietors of Riazul. Keep up the good work!! (photos below)

  • Thank you to Riazul for a wonderful variety of tastes, from Riazul Silver (for the perfect Margarita), to Riazul Anjeo (for a sipping tequila with the perfect hint of originality).

  • Caracara's fresh made-to-order guacamole, with homemade chips, paired perfectly with the Riazul Margarita.

  • Caracara's out of this world Sopa de Congrejo: Lump Crab Soup w/ smoked oysters & cream. Paired with a taste of Riazul Silver.

  • Next, our main course of Pan-Seared Sea Scallops (cooked to perfection) over wild brown rice salad, and a glaze made from pomegranate & dried cranberry? This is worth going back for....OR

  • Carne Asada: NY Strip Steak over steamed Asparagus, w/ Pineapple Passilla Glaze and Chipotle yucca.
    Both paired with Riazul's Tequila Reposado, a lovely sipping tequila. Flavorful, very acidic on the nose, hints of vanilla in the after-taste. Light enough to use as a mixer - but don't!

  • Caracara's Mexican Vanilla Flan infused with coconut and orange, & homemade whipped cream. I wouldn't have normally indulged but a taste of Riazul's Anejo, along with a Riazul Brown Russian pushed me over the edge!! Excellent

Besito, Mexican/Spanish, Huntington, NY

You cannot pass up the tableside/made to order Guacamole and Sangria at Besito! In fact, if thats what it takes to get you there, go just for that. (Or the Tequila in the Agave Lounge) To make it easy for you, they have two locations, one in Huntington, and one in Roslyn. The decor in Roslyn is worth the trip, but I tend towards Huntington, only because its closer. The food and staff are consistent in both locations. Open since 2006, Besito strives to be culturally authentic.
Besito serves lunch, brunch and dinner, but I can only claim to be an expert on the dinner menu. Besides the guacamole, do not pass up the Ceviche, or the Tamale with Shrimp, of the Crab Cake over habanero cream sauce and roasted corn salad. My absolute favorite main course is what they call Budin de Mariscos - essentially a stack of layered tortilla, shrimp and crab, with tomato salsa, queso chihuahua, and baked with poblano cream sauce. Or was it the short ribs that were to die for? Its a toss-up. I had the salmon last time, just to be different, and it was cooked to order, rare, with crispy bananas, pineapple pico de gallo and mole manchamanteles. (I'm not sure exactly what that was, but I ate every bite). The traditional favorites are also available, Tacos (Chicken, Pork or Skirt Steak, each made differently) and served with rice and black beans. Same wiht the Enchiladas: Suizas, Beef and Chorizo, Mole Poblano and Shrimp and Crab.
There is so much more yet to try. I have never gotten to dessert, but all is not lost. Each diner is sent home with a fresh baked cinnamon sugar Churro and a tiny little worry doll to take all your cares away. (The Sangria did that for me!!)

EL COYOTE LOCO, Merrick Ave., Seaford NY

One of the best Margaritas around - a perfect blend of tequila, triple sec & sour mix, w/ a bit of gran blanca on top. The Coyote Margarita.

     El Coyote Loco is a great local gem of a Mexican restaurant hidden away in a strip mall on Merrick Road.  I often wonder if anyone other than residents ever go there -- unless the food draws them....  (Recently we have found a bounty of fine dining in the area.)  El Coyote is good solid Mexican food at a price that wont break the bank, even if you take the kids.   You walk into traditional decor, bright orange, blues and greens, lots of arches and chili peppers hanging around.  You are warmly greeted and seated.  And, no, we were not the only people there at 4:00 on a Friday evening. 

      The menu boasts a nice selection of traditional appetizers, and a sampler platter that actually contains most if not all of them, which comes in Sm., Med., & Lg., so you can order as much or as little as you need.  We ordered the small which came with a nice size order of their homemade guacamole (delicious & fresh), sour cream and at least two of: deep fried and spiced calamari, jalapeno poppers, quesadilla w/ melted cheese, refried beans and fried chorizo, flauta & nachos! (gone before I took a photo).  Oh, and I have to mention their homemade salsa which was fantastic: fresh, cold & spicy but not so that you couldn't keep eating it.  For dinner I had the Chicken Mole, which is my favorite Spanish dish and here they do keep up the tradition of an excellent mole sauce.  It's served with hot tortillas, fresh shredded lettuce, rice & refried beans, but I just ate the chicken straight up! My wonderful companion for the evening ordered a combination platter which they graciously allowed him to make up himself (as it was not on the menu) of a Chile Relleno, Beef & Cheese Burrito, and a Chimichanga stuffed with beef and deep fried.  This was the least appealing to me but I understand that the Chile Relleno was absolutely delicious. Their combo platters range from $12.00 to $14.00, and as you can see from the photos below, they are a substantial dinner - especially since we were already full from our "small" appetizer." Their regular menu ranges from fajitas of every kind (including salmon), Carnitas, Steaks, Chicken (of course) and seafood (including Paella or Shrimp & Scallops in green sauce).  Oh, and get this: You can get their new Rotisserie Chicken family style, served with salad, spicy sauce, rice & beans "Fully Loco" for 4 people, with fries tostones and guacamole for $37.95.  Remember, you heard it here.

      Dessert is generally not the prize in a Mexican restaurant and I don't like Flan, but we were enjoying the pleasant atmosphere, the music and relaxing, so we ordered the Fried Ice Cream.  Next time, I'll just stick with a Mexican Coffee instead.  But there will be a next time, because the owners/staff are pleasant and efficient, the food is good and an excellent value, and its in the neighborhood.  In fact, if you are looking for a good bang for your buck in this economy, I definitely recommend El Coyote Loco - at 2 drinks, 1 huge appetizer to share, 2 dinners and 1 dessert all for 66.00, you'd be loco not to try it! 

  • Coyote Chicken Mole

  • Coyote Customized Combo