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LIC’s Mexican Bites: Casa Enrique

October 14, 2012

Long Island City has no shortage of Mexican restaurants.  Just within the five block radius of the 7 train stop on Vernon, there are at least 4 serving Mexican/Latin influenced cuisine.  Just to add one more to the mix, Casa Enrique opened back in April and has ever since been finding its stride and, I am glad to report, dish by dish its flavor.  Just off the subway stop, the restaurant is located from the more heavily trafficked Vernon street.  No pinatas or somberors at this restaurant, the decor inside is a modern posh white, not at all what you would expect from a Mexican restaurant.

Any good Mexican restaurant will offer a guacamole worth its weight in avocado.  The one at Casa Enrique is good enough to compare with any of the high end restaurants in Manhattan.  Chunky yet creamy, each bite is fresh and packed with a punch of heat from jalapeno.  A trio of salsas offered also makes for a great dip for any leftover chips.

The rajas con crema might be on the side dish part of the menu, it makes for a great appetizer.  Mexican’s version of a creamed corn is served in a tiny cast iron skillet.  The corn is rich, cooked with roasted chilies poblanos, cheese and cream.  It tastes wonderful on its own but I imagine this tasting even better poured over a bed of rice to soak up every last bit of the sauce.

Another favorite appetizer on the menu is the albondigas en chipotle.  The dish consists of four meatballs made with beef served in a smoky chipotle tomato sauce.  The first time having this, I was delighted to discover a small piece of egg in the middle, a play on scotch eggs.  The second time, instead of an egg, a small piece of salty cheese was in its place.  While the cheese was not quite as good as the soft egg, it was still a spicy treat.

Even though I usually love ceviche, I find myself being drawn to the tacos at Casa Enrique which comes two per order.  The two standouts were the pastor and the lengua.  The pastor, a spicy stew of pork studded with sweet pineapple, is flavorful and approachable.  While the sound of lengua might frighten some people, it is actually very easy on the tongue (pun intended).  Akin to brisket, large pieces of beef tongue has been slowly cooked until tender, falling apart in your mouth.

Outside of above excellent small bites, Casa Enrique also offers a list of entrees in case you are still hungry.  The chamorro de borrego, braised spice lamb shank, is quite fulfilling, served with flavorful rice and beans.  The meat literally falls off the bone and even though the sauce is strong, that lovely lamb taste still comes through distinctly.

Having never left enough room for dessert, I have yet to move beyond the first page and half of the menu.  But what I have tasted so far has me pretty excited to go back to this LIC newcomer.  I look forward to being impressed by the roasted pork ribs or the chile relleno and perhaps a flan or two.

Casa Enrique | 5-48 49th Avenue  New York, NY 11101 | http://images.nymag.com/images/2/daily/2012/03/20_casa-enrique-menu.pdf

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