I’m excited to say that I finally experienced Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona. I went with a friend and her sister, who was visiting from Florida. We worked up an appetite by spending most of the day at the Queens Zoo, so when I saw that Tortilleria Nixtamal was only a short walk away, I had to take the opportunity. Luckily, everyone was down to try it.
Our lovely server put down a bowl of salsa for the table before we even ordered; a good sign. We each spooned salsa onto our food throughout the meal. Angelica says her favorite was the salsa roja, while mine was the salsa verde, which was mildly spicy and savory in all the best ways.
We ordered the Mexican Nachos to start because we were super hungry and convinced that just an entree wouldn’t be enough. The nachos included tostadas piled with refried beans, picked vegetables, jalapeños, diced tomatoes, avocado slices, and a tiny bit of crema and Oaxaca cheese.
The ratio of the toppings to the tostadas was perfect; I’m used to nachos that rely on a large helping of melted cheese, but the pickled and diced vegetables loaned more substance, and didn’t make us feel too full for our actual meals.
Overwhelmed by how good everything on the menu sounded, I decided I should try the food I’ve heard most about when it comes to Tortilleria Nixtamal — the tacos, made with homemade corn tortillas. I ordered two tacos al pastor and one taco de nopales. The tacos al pastor were delicious and surprisingly light, as the pork was leaner than what I’m used to. Every element of the taco — the seasoned pork, warm, homemade tortilla, and bits of diced pineapple — worked harmoniously.
The taco de nopal, made with grilled cactus, tomato, radish, onion and a generous helping of melted Oaxaca cheese, was surprisingly filling. The contrast of fresh, crunchy textures along with the softness and crisped edges of the cheese kept it interesting, and it’s certainly the kind of vegetarian taco that wouldn’t leave anyone wanting for meat.
Angelica ordered the enchiladas de mole Poblano, a bold choice considering she had never tried mole before. But she loved it and demolished the plate on her own, although she was kind enough to give me a few bites. It really reminded me of the mole my Grandma Celia makes in look and taste. It had the familiar flavor profile and consistency: A dark, creamy sauce with bitter and spicy notes and an underlying rich, chocolatey taste. I was curious to see if it would be similar to her recipe, and to my surprise, it was. Meanwhile, Irene took a bite and almost gagged. Multiplicity of man.
Irene ordered a reliable favorite, the traditional tostadas with chicken, described as two fried corn tortillas topped with beans, lettuce, tomato, avocado, queso fresco, and crema. She didn’t offer anyone a bite and I wasn’t going to ask, as she seemed hyperfocused on devouring them.
With our check, we received Canel’s chewing gum, an Easter basket/birthday party favorite in my family.
I had great expectations for Tortilleria Nixtamal based on the amazing things I’ve heard about it, and it exceeded my expectations. Shoutout to the incredible people who staff Tortilleria Nixtamal’s kitchen and front of house, they’re doing a beautiful job.