Authentic Mexican At Fonda Coyoacan
By Rosie, Pete &
If your experience with Mexican food is Tex-Mex
or Taco Bell, think again. And get yourself to Fonda Coyoacan
in Huntington Station. This storefront eatery on New York
Avenue has been touted on internet food blogs as the spot
for authentic Mexican. And while we can’t tell from
experience whether this is the closest thing to a meal in
Mexico City as one is likely to find in these parts, we can
tell you that a meal at this affordable eatery is a wholesome
and delightful dining experience, and the local Tex-Mex offerings
don’t even begin to touch it.
Elvia Cardenia named Fonda Coyoacan after the city in Mexico
that she called home until coming to this country 20 years
ago. Located just outside of Mexico City, Fonda Coyoacan was
perhaps best known as home to artists Diego Rivera and Frida
But it ought to be equally well known for its cuisine, if
Cardenia’s cooking is any indication. A menu of standard
Mexican fare includes the expected tacos, quesadilla and huaraches,
as well as daily specials. All are an education in Mexican
food offering new tastes and experiences.
Cardenia said the restaurant fulfills a lifelong dream that
started with her own mother, an accomplished cook who wanted
to own a restaurant herself. She never did, but her dream
is fulfilled in a way as Cardenia relies on her mother’s
recipes at Fonda Coyoacan. The store opened as a Mexican grocery
five years ago but tables soon replaced the store shelves.
Today, bright yellow walls hung with Mexican blankets, red
gingham cloths and crafts from Central Mexico provide a colorful
backdrop for diners in the eight-table restaurant. The food,
we’re told, is authentic with a capital “A.”
A meal at Fonda Coyoacan starts with a basket of homemade
tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa verde. Like everything
at Fonda Coyoacan, it’s freshly made on premises, and
we can almost guarantee it will disappear while you peruse
the menu’s offerings.
That’s what happened on our recent visit, and a plateful
of Guacamole (small $3; large $6) suffered the same fate.
A flavorful blend of avocado, onion, fresh lime and cilantro,
it was sweet and salty and tasted as if it had been made seconds
before it was served.
We also started with a couple of Tamales ($1.50), polenta-like
cornmeal steamed inside a cornhusk wrapping and stuffed with
jalapeno rajas, or chicken in green sauce or flavorful molé.
The jalapeno was our favorite.
For the main course, we went with Cardenia’s suggestions
and sampled the day’s specials. Steamed Lamb ($8.50)
— on the menu for Sunday — was an astounding,
fall-off-the-bone chunk of meat served with rice and a dollop
of thick refried beans. We tried ours with an even more astounding
molé poblano, a deep rich sauce traditionally served
with turkey or chicken. Combining 40 ingredients and slow-cooked,
the dark sauce is complex and flavorful, and could compete
with the finest any French chef would offer.
Huaraches ($6) are platters constructed with a big corn tortilla,
beans and lettuce, onion, tomato and Mexican cream, with choice
of meat. Bistec is grilled steak; Al Pastor is a spicy marinated
pork; Chorizo is a traditional spicy Mexican sausage; and
the Pollo, or chicken, is flavored with pineapple.
Truly special was the Azteca platter, combining hearty marinated
pork and steak, and served with onion, tomatoes, cheese and
cactus. That’s right, cactus. Like many of her authentic
ingredients, Cardenia imports the fresh prickly pear cactus
from her homeland where it is a staple food. Served grilled,
it has a flavor reminiscent of okra, though Cardenia prefers
it in a fresh salad.
The cactus was a surprise discovery in a restaurant where
surprises apparently are the norm. Perhaps the biggest was
a tiny cup of Champurrado, a thick and warming corn beverage
flavored with vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon and other spices.
From the quality of the food to the sophisticated preparation
methods used by Cardenia and her chef, they’re all pleasant
discoveries that will keep us coming back.
1026 New York Avenue
Cuisine: Authentic Mexican from Mexico City and south
Atmosphere: Casual with south-of-the-border touches
Price Range: Inexpensive
Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Mon-Wed.
10 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat
9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun