I don't eat much Mexican anymore—this stomach of mine isn't getting any younger—but every once in a while the craving hits, as it did last week, in this case on east Houston Street, fortuitously nearby the newish Móle. Run by the same folks who brought Taco Taco to the Upper East Side, Móle is a small, 30-seat place with a large menu of South-of-the-Border standards as well as slightly more ambitious fare. Dining alone, I decided to try something at both ends of the spectrum. True, as my server/the restaurant's owner said after I ordered, "That's a lot of food" (to which I cleverly retorted, "I know..."), but it gave me a good idea of the kitchen's capabilities. Which are, for the most part, more than satisfactory.
I started with a couple of tacos, prepared the now-ubiquitous traditional way with the fillings piled upon a double bed of soft flour tortillas: one, a Carne Asada, the beef nicely charred and tender, the marinade a little sour, perhaps, but nonetheless a satisfying version of the taco-stand staple; the other—and definitely the better of the pair—a Taco Taco, consisting of sliced pork marinated with smoked jalapenos and then sauteed with cabbage, the whole mess a terrific combination of heat and sweet. This really hit the spot.
For my entree I tried a special, the Guava-Glazed Pork Chops, and, unfortunately, was treated to a textbook example of why I usually steer clear of this sort of thing when eating out. Although I enjoyed some good juicy bites around the fatty edges and near the bones—and the glaze had a nice tang to it—I also had to contend with vast swaths of hopelessly dry, chewy meat, much of which, in fact, I left uneaten. The dish wasn't a total loss, however, as it came with a creamy green mound of excellent mashed potatoes with roasted poblano peppers.
But if my dinner had its ups and downs, dessert was an unqualified, spectacular success, a huge serving of what may well be the best flan I've ever eaten: the consistency firm; the eggs, the caramel, the secret-ingredient condensed milk, all in perfect balance; the thick whipped cream an unexpectedly delightful companion. If you're a flan fan, and you're strolling through the neighborhood, I urge you stop in, sit at the bar, and treat yourself to this sweet cylinder of total custard heaven.
Móle is located on the west side of Allen Street, just south of Houston. The decor is tiles and kitch, the service friendly and able. As of two days ago, the liquor license was pending.