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Casual Tacos at Cafe El Presidente

August 10, 2014

Looking for Mexican in Chelsea or Flatiron?  There aren’t that many choices so the addition of Cafe El Presidente was a welcoming one.  The casual restaurant is set on a block just west of Madison Square Park and just north of Eataly.  It’s one of those blocks that I rarely find myself walking through until now.  The restaurant is cavernous and rather loud when fully occupied on a Tuesday night.  The best chances of hearing your companion is to find a seat by the large windows in the front, away from the lively dining area.



The drinks here are as predictably Mexican themed, with variations on pina cola and paloma.  Watermelon agua frescas or a horchata (spiked or not) are never a wrong way to start the meal, especially in the summer.



And no one will complain about an order of freshly made guacamole served with house made totopos.  Similar to tortilla chips, the totopos are crispier and just a touch sturdier which makes for better dipping.



For those who love Mexican corn, Cafe El Presidente makes the experience even better by serving the smoky buttery corn off the cob.  Tossed with just the right amount of chipotle mayo and fine dusting of cotija cheese, all this needed was a squeeze of lime and watch them disappear.



The tacos are separated into two sections, Tacos del Presidente and Tacos Especiales.  The Tacos del Presidente are served on freshly made corn tortillas and come four or five to an order.  The Seniorita Carnitas comes with generous amounts of Berkshire pork, slow roasted until they were tender and juicy.



The El Pastor de Madison D.F. features the Bershire Pork again, this time spit roasted and sliced thinly, topped with pineapple, onion and cilantro.




The Tacos Especiales are more adventurous takes on tacos and are served individually.  For those who are vegetarian, or even those who aren’t, the swiss chard and poblano peppers taco packed a surprising punch of flavor.


The quesadilla maize azul is also another great vegetarian option.  Blue corn tortillas are stuffed with generous portions of chihuahua cheese, charred corn and poblano peppers.  The resulting quesadilla isn’t quite what we are used to but the flavors speak volumes.



Two of my favorites on the Tacos Especiales section are the Sonoran shrimp taco and the crispy fish taco.  Fresh shrimp are simply seared and topped with a mojo de ajo and haberno sauce.  Crunchy cabbage adds a nice layer of texture to the flavorful fillings.  The best part is the flour tortilla.  Blistered in all the right places, the tortilla is warm and pliant, perfectly chewy.  It makes me wish all the tacos here are served on this tortilla.



Usually when it comes to fish tacos, I prefer mine simply grilled but the crispy fish taco at Cafe El Presidente managed to change my mind for a split second.  A generous piece of Alaskan cod is coated in a crispy beer batter and topped simply with pickled cabbage and a crema.  The fish is moist and flaky and surprisingly light despite the beer batter.



Cafe El Presidente offers a great spot to grab a drink and a quick bite to eat in a casual and relaxed setting, whether it’s after work with coworkers or on a Sunday for an early dinner.  Despite its rather hidden location on a deserted block in Flatiron, I think I will find myself there rather frequently for an order of guacamole and a taco or two.


Cafe El Presidente | 30 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10010 |


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