Contrary to popular belief that we are only about work at Fairway, we actually get out now and again. There is that side of us that is fascinated by the nooks and crannies of our world-class city and its environs, and there is little we love more than getting out there in order to take advantage.
J-O-T-W is not just about good cooking. It may be just a bar, a coffee bar, a bookstore, a pinball parlor. But it’s usually about a cook, a kitchen, a dining room, the intensity of an overall experience – bottom line: THE FOOD.
This week the J-O-T-W is Tortilleria Nixtamal. It’s a Mexican joint in Corona Queens. Yeah, we know. Corona? Queens? You better get used to it. Unsubtle reminder from your Fairway stalwarts: New York is made up of a heck of a lot more than Manhattan.
Tortilleria Nixtamal is on 140th Street at 47th Avenue. What a nice neighborhood! I walked around a bit before tucking into the restaurant, and I was delighted by the post-dusk people I passed on the streets, and I was enchanted by the shops, the bakeries, the proliferation of barber shops, which would explain the undeniably fresh, crisp, shiny and ornate hairdos we see all over the city.
This odd piece of real estate is a wide wedge, the front of which is mostly glass. The joint had to have been a showroom, or perhaps a laundromat. It feels good to be inside looking out. And it feels even better knowing you are about to be served what we say is the best Mexican home cooking imaginable. If there was some Mexican region that influenced the food, it was beyond my ken, but what I tasted, and I tasted a lot of different dishes, it seemed to be pan-Mexico in influence. The conceit of Tortilleria Nixtamal, its raison d’etre if I may, is its devotion to corn. It makes its own masa from posole that it brings in from Mexico, and that involves a great deal of talent and effort and steel machinery. The result is tamales and tortillas of incredible integrity, surpassed perhaps only by the fillings that ensue.
Make it your business to redefine everything you ever thought or believed about Mexican food. Program that GPS and hie yourself to Corona for Tortilleria Nixtamal.
TELL US: Where have you eaten the best Mexican food you’ve ever tasted?