Mexican food is a tough get here in Central New York. Yes, I can roll up to Mesa Grande or Chipotle for whatever comes out of their kitchens, but there are no panaderías or torillerías 100 miles of Syracuse. Some meat markets do chorizo and cut beef for asada, but nothing specialized. Now that Boom Boom Mex Mex has shut its doors for good, none of the “taquerías” in Syracuse venture into the exotic (when was the last time you saw lengua on a menu in CNY?).
I recognize that this is very likely due to the makeup of our Latin-American community, and the fact there are more ethnic Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central/South Americans inhabiting this area than Mexicans. That doesn’t mean I can’t be bitter about it.
So, the closest I get to authentic is what happens in my own kitchen. This means making my own chorizo by trial and error, souring ingredients online, and getting by with store-bought tortillas (the horror). That said, I would sell The Wife’s reasonably priced but expansive shoe collection for a big greasy torta in wax paper like the ones you can get in North Las Vegas or San Diego.
I gave The Wife the choice of chicken and poblano or chili-lime steak tortas for dinner, fully expecting to prepare the former. Naturally, she chose the latter. I picked chili and lime simply because I’ve developed a manageable addiction to Cholula’s chili-lime sauce and figured I could sneak some on the final product.
WHAT WORKED: Flap meat. This is going to be summer 2015’s hot cut of beef. My only evidence is that they are now carrying it in the meat department at Costco. It’s a well-marbled piece of sirloin that is rather inexpensive. It’s perfect for marinating and grilling over high heat. Also, I really like the Better Beans products that Wegmans carries, and I used the refried black beans here.
WHAT DIDN’T: I am a little mad that I cannot find Oaxaca cheese around here. Wegmans had it a long time ago, but the best I can do now is queso fresco. Still good stuff, but it doesn’t melt as well as the Oaxaca. It’s more like a feta in texture, except it doesn’t really melt.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Medium.
BEST FOR: A different take on a steak or when you are looking for something quick and out of the ordinary.
SERVE WITH: Tortilla chips and guacamole.