Like many New Yorkers we're huge fans of the cornucopia of Central American and Mexican fare available at the Red Hook ballfields. But we're do you go when you don't feel like trekking to Red Hook? For us Elmhurst and Jackson Heights often fit the bill, particularly because of the specials at the nabe's taquerias.
Gothamist is always psyched to see barbacoa de chivo on the specials board. This sumptuous slow-cooked goat meat is typically served on weekends. The other day when we noticed a sign that listed barbacoa, along with memelitas, outside Taqueria Coatzingo, we immediately headed inside. Our excitement was not sparked by the barbacoa, but rather the memelitas, a Mexican foodstuff we'd never heard of, much less eaten, before.
Shortly after taking a seat in the cheery blue and orange dining room we asked the waitress "Que es memelitas?" "Es come un tortilla," she replied. After butchering some more Spanish we learned that memelitas are open-faced, topped with crema, cotija cheese and the protein of your choice and come two to an order. We immediately ordered one with barbacoa and one with carnitas.
As you can see, to say that memelitas are like tortillas is a bit of an understatement. Had our Spanish been better the waitress probably would have said they're like tortillas on steroids. To be more precise, memelitas are oblong boats of masa that have been deep-fried to a beautiful golden color. When they're fried they puff up, so that the whole thing consists of two layers of crispy fried masa surrounding a moist interior. All in all they make a perfect base for meat, particularly if you're lucky enough to find slow-cooked goat on the menu. Gothamist is somewhat ashamed to admit that the fantastic fattiness of the meat coupled with all that fried masa rendered us incapable of finishing half of the carnitas memelita. Which is a damn shame, since it may be quite some time before it appears as a special again.
Taqueria Coatzingo, 40-18 82 St., 718-779-7930