There are a few things that Casa Enrique definitely is not:
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And yet despite such serious deficiencies, this Long Island City restaurant is packed every night with loyal neighborhood regulars and smart destination eaters. Why? Because of one particular thing that Casa Enrique absolutely is -the best Mexican food in New York City.
As you let that statement sink in, keep in mind that we're trying to use fewer superlatives these days, especially when it comes to calling a restaurant the "best" of anything. "Things" change too quickly in this town, and as soon as one restaurant gets deemed the king, something else opens that does it better. That, or it ends up closing to make room for a condo with a froyo chain in the lobby. Viva la Williamsburg.
But in this instance, we feel comfortable calling Casa Enrique the best. Why? Because it definitely is the best right now, and new Mexican restaurants don't come around in this town very often. Sure, we'll get a Cosme every once in a while. But that's not the kind of Mexican food we're talking about. Neither is Empellón Cocina, or any other restaurant that puts pistachios in their guacamole. We're talking real Mexican food, with chips and salsa and entrees made entirely of cheese, and we see no impending threat to Casa Enrique's crown. Neither does the Michelin Guide, who handed them one star this year -the first to ever go to a Mexican restaurant in NYC.
So what earns a small Queens restaurant built inside of a house such high honors from The Infatuation and a tire company? Quality food, authenticity, and simplicity. The Casa Enrique menu is not complicated, and it's certainly not "on trend." You'll find familiar things like enchiladas and chile rellenos, and crab tostadas that are so well put together you'll wish you could wear one as a tiny hat. What you won't find are fusions of any kind or New York City interpretations of Mexican cuisine. That means no weird shit in your guacamole, and nobody claiming that carrot is the new corn. Just excellent food in a really nice environment, served to you by friendly people.
For us, that's enough to break out the superlatives.
You want it, so get it. We'd recommend ordering it "hot," as we've found the medium to be a bit too mild for our taste. Then again, it all depends on how much of a baby you are.
A must order. Consider these a palate cleanser.
The best thing about these tacos? Simplicity. The fish on our most recent visit was tilefish,but it'll change from time to time depending on what's good and available. You don't concern yourself with the species. Concern yourself with getting them in your mouth.
A special from time to time, but something that we think should be on the menu all the time. These are absolutely amazing.
A chile rellenois usually my go-to dish at a Mexican restaurant, which means I've eaten quitea few of them. I've never had one like this. What makes Casa Enrique'sdifferent (and so good) is the fact that it is not heavily breaded, and comesserved in an absolutely amazing, sweet, tomato sauce. It's filled with Oaxacan cheese and served with tortillas, and it will fill you up so much that about halfway through you'll be negotiating with your stomach to let you finish. Negotiating tip: under-promise and over-deliver.
These enchiladas are stuffed with pulled chicken, then topped with an incredible salsa verde. It's much lighter than you might expect, and you want it.
We're not typically crazy about mole, but this one we love. There's definitely a lot of chocolate present, so expect some sweetness. But it's also rich and smoky.
Look at that picture, right where the cake meets the dish. See that? That's a fingertip deep pool of condensed milk, and the cake is basically 100% saturated with it. You'll probably need a fork and a spoon to properly deal with this, and you'll definitely need to figure out a plan to burn off about 4300 calories tomorrow. No matter. You need to finish your meal with this.