A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Saturday, November 17

Noche Mexicana

I had dinner here a few years ago, definitely involving tacos, prompted by a downright giddy Eric Asimov $25 and Under piece in the Times. I don't remember much about the meal beyond its total mediocrity, and it never occurred to me to eat here again.... until I noticed that it was listed in the 2007 Michelin Guide.

Huh? That Noche Mexicana? In the Michelin!?

So when the opportunity for a repeat visit presented itself, I leaped, thinking maybe I had missed something the first time around.

And... no. This is, no doubt in my mind, mediocre Mexican. "Authentic," sure—and certainly a huge step up from that atrocity Mama Mexico around the corner on Broadway—but mediocre nonetheless.

I started with a Chorizo Taco, the ground sausage plentiful and appropriately spicy, the tortillas reasonably fresh, the whole thing fine. I've had worse; I've had better (from the nearby Taco Truck on 96th Street, for example). Next up? Quesadilla de Flor de Calebeza, probably the tastiest thing I've had here, the pumpkin flowers adding a nice vinegary sweetness to the salty and surprisingly sharp cheese.

Disaster awaited, however, in the form of the Pipian de Pollo, my overcooked chicken smothered in a sea of bland, gritty pumpkin seed sauce. This, I thought to myself, is what it must be like to eat dirt. The beans were good, though. For dessert: the Flan, of course. It was OK (Móle has nothing to worry about in the Scoboco competition for best Flan of the year), remarkable mostly for his unconventional squareness. The glib lesson from all of this? Don't believe the French about Mexican.

Noche Mexicana is located on Amsterdam Avenue between 100th and 101st Streets.

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