Quetzalcoatl: The Real
By Luann & Rich/
There are those restaurants
that say they are authentic, and there are those that actually
are. We suspect Quetzalcoatl in Huntington village is the
latter. After all, what other conclusion can you draw when
the man in charge hosts monthly seminars on Native Mexican
Alejandro Gonzalez knows his craft. Born in Mexico City, the
gym-teacher-turned-chef contains in his head a wealth of cultural
knowledge. On our recent visit, we didnt choose our
meals based on what we felt like eating or what sounded appetizing.
Instead, we listened to Gonzalez describe the history behind
the dishes and picked our entrée based on whichever
story we connected with. Talk about a new way to dine.
Gonzalez said he got into the restaurant business because,
though there was plenty of Mexican food with American influences
around, he couldnt find real authentic Mexican
cuisine. At Quetzalcoatl, named after a Mesoamerican plumed
serpent god, a portion of the menu is dedicated to platos
prehispanicos, and that is where the history lesson
comes in: With every bite, you get a taste of Mexican history.
Dont get down if truly authentic isnt your thing,
though. The restaurant, which opened about three years ago,
also serves up burritos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladads,
nachos and the like.
While munching on the fresh tortilla chips and sweet salsa
that is served to every table, we decided to start with a
few appetizers. Guacamole ($5.95 for a small) is served chilled
and smooth, especially handy in taming the super-spicy jalepeño
stuffed with cheese ($5.95 for one piece). Barbecued Shrimp
Al Tequila ($10.95) is less spicy but certainly tasty, with
shrimp sautéed in a tequila and chile ancho sauce with
For our entrees, we stuck with the more traditional dishes.
Molcajete Purepecha with chicken ($19.50), though you have
your choice of meat or fish, is basically a chicken fajita
in a tomato broth, served in a giant black caldron-like bowl.
In Mexico, to keep food hot, meals used to be served on lava
rocks that can reach very high temperatures. This bowl held
the heat for the duration of our meal, keeping the food hot.
The chicken and vegetables were flavored delicately and served
with corn not flour tortillas and all the fixings.
A side of cooked cactus draped the side of the bowl. Yes,
we said cactus. Who knew it was edible?
Our adventurous side moved us to order Chile en Nogada ($16.95),
a poblano pepper stuffed with meat and fruit, and covered
in a creamy brandy and almond sauce with pomegranate seeds.
It is said that the dish was invented in the 1800s to commemorate
Mexican independence. An incredibly unique combination of
flavors, the dish is often served at weddings.
For dessert, rice pudding ($3.95) is stellar served with fried
tortilla covered in cinnamon and sugar.
Gonzalez will host his free forums on Mexican philosophy as
a way of living the first Tuesday of the month from April
to September, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the restaurant. Visit the
website for more information.
If youre in town during the day, they do lunch too,
and breakfast on Sundays, which runs from pancakes to traditional
chilaquiles. The same group owns Oaxaca around the corner
on New York Avenue, where weve many a time enjoyed a
tamale or burrito.
269 Main St., Huntington
Atmosphere: Scenes from the Old World
Cuisine: Traditional Mexican
Price range: Moderate
Hours: Mon Thurs 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Fri & Sat 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.,
Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.