Tex-Mex has finally landed in a huff to our nonexistent queso and fajita city. New Yorker’s think we have Mexican food here with all the amazing tacos, but there is nothing comparable to actual Tex-Mex. Fajitas, Enchiladas, Queso, endless Margaritas options – this is what we eat in Texas, y’all. When you walk into El Original in Hell’s Kitchen, you are immediately transplanted to El Patio or El Tiempo somewhere in Houston (every restaurant begins to sound the same). From the big space to aztec looking walls, red booths and especially the outfitted mariachi band that graces the room, the recreation is unbelievable and truly comforting.
No doubt, you will immediately find yourself chowing down on (free) chips and salsa plus an order of Queso El Original which includes guacamole, black beans and picadillo beef. It’s a deep colored yellow, melted cheese that could use a little more spice. It’s thicker and not as creamy as most of the quesos I’ve had at home, but it did not stop us from licking the bowl clean. One thing about New York dining that has evolved is the art of sharing small plates. The one thing about Tex-Mex is that you order combo platters by yourself that come with one taco, one tamale, one chalupa plus rice and beans and you’re all on your own. It’s true, we eat all this cheesy goodness at another level. These combo plates really show and grasp the authenticity of Tex-Mex. Go for the El Original Numero Uno: a picadillo beef crispy taco, one cheese enchilada with chili gravy, one beef tamale, a chile con queso tostada, guacamole, rice and beans. It’s $22 which feels like a steal for NYC, but it can be about $15 in Texas- not complaining just educating.
Tortilla Soup has finally made an appearance on this island which I am more than fond of as well as Fajitas which I think are the one thing that you never find. I always debate over quesadillas vs. enchiladas, and I dove headfirst for the Chicken Enchiladas. Had to be able to judge the real deep cooking because lets be honest, quesadillas at bars can even be mind blowing. These enchiladas had an awesome salsa verde sauce and just the right amount of pulled chicken with lots of packed flavor. I noticed that it did seem a little less cheesy/saucy than the real thing, but at the same time I was down with it. No one had to be rolled out of there due to cheese overload, and we were all more than satisfied. For those of you who think this might look like slop, just roll with it. Feels like home, tastes like home, looks like home, smells like home. I don’t know what else we could have asked for. It’s official, Tex-Mex has landed.