Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in Astoria and Long Island City. Everyone loves tacos, tortas, salsa, and guacamole. Fortunately, there are a number of Mexican options in town, so you can get your fix with ease.
Pachanga Patterson, brought to Astoria by the team behind the popular Vesta Trattoria, made a huge splash upon opening in spring 2011. Inspired by what a restaurant's kitchen staff would eat, this simple food is gussied up just a bit. They also have a lovely backyard patio, perfect for dining outside in the warmer weather.
Popular dishes include the moo shu duck tacos flavored with sriracha hoisin, cucumber, and radish; the veggie jenga, a tostada topped with mashed beans, avocado, sweet potato puree, and fried eggs; and chips -- made with Tortilleria Nixtamal tortillas -- and guacamole, considered to be some of the best in town.
Pachanga Patterson has even taken Vesta's signature dessert, the Baby Jesus Cake, and transformed it to fit in with the Latin menu, renaming it El Diablito. This version of the treasured date cake includes cocoa and chocolate chips, and is topped with a caramel sauce infused with chiles.
Pachanga Patterson, 33-17 31st Ave, Astoria, NY, 718-554-0525
Los Portales is a hole-in-the-wall taqueria on Broadway, with delicious, cheap food, served by a friendly staff. Be sure to check out the little backyard patio, too. Los Portales is open late - until about 2 a.m. - so this is a great place to get some late night tacos after an evening out on the town.
The menu is extensive. Tacos are plentiful as are the tortas and cemitas, two different types of sandwiches. There are also platters a-plenty, with various kinds of meats. Antojitos, a kind of Mexican street snack, are in the form of huaraches and sopes, among others. Meats for the dishes are cooked on an open grill in the front of the restaurant. As far as drinks go, horchata and aguas frescas are served, as well as Mexican Coke.
Los Portales, 25-08 Broadway, Astoria, NY, 718-204-6736
Located on Vernon Blvd in Long Island City, Creek and the Cave is a popular neighborhood restaurant and watering hole. They serve American-style Mexican food, focusing on fish tacos, overstuffed burritos, and of course chips and salsa. The guacamole is also excellent. Get the chicken enchiladas with green sauce for a special spicy delight.
The food is tasty and goes well with a margarita or a bottle of Sol beer (considered a step up from Corona). There's a great backyard patio space in which to enjoy your food and drink. Be sure to check out the pakced performance calendar, much of which focuses on comedy and improv.
Creek and the Cave, 10-93 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY, 718-706-8783
One of Astoria's established Mexican restaurants, Viva El Mariachi serves up solid food. Platters are the most extensive part of the menu, but tacos, burritos, and tamales are all available. There are also a good number of sandwiches.
Viva El Mariachi, 33-11 Broadway, Astoria, NY, 718-545-4039
El Grill (formerly had the Athens as part of its name - hey, this is Astoria) serves up tasty, authentic Mexican food in an unassuming place on 30th Ave in the first block west of the train. Like Los Portales, there's a grill in the front of the restaurant where some very tasty meats get cooked up while you watch. The pork for the al pastor tacos is especially good. All the tacos are delicious and the tortas are also excellent, especially the carne enchilada (spicy pork) torta.
The space inside is dark and cool and definitely has some character. There is a bit of a language barrier, but with even a rudimentary knowledge of español, you can order something delicious off the menu. Be sure to get a bowl of green sauce with your meal; it's fantastic. To add to the authenticity of the experience, pop open a Mexican Coke and guzzle it down.
El (Athens) Grill, 30-11 30th Ave, Astoria, NY, 718-777-5366