Last week, I checked out Pulqueria, an extremely well-hidden Mexican restaurant deep in Chinatown. I’m not talking Canal Street, people – Pulqueria is on windy, narrow Doyers. My sister had purchased a groupon for a 4-course meal for two and wasn’t going to use it before it expired – so that meant that an eating buddy and I had to take her place! Thanks, sis!
We settled into this underground hideaway and perused our options:
We started off with a choice of dips – guacamole or “sikil pak”, which was described as a Mayan pumpkin seed dip. Wanting to try both, of course, eating buddy and I tried one and one:
The guacamole was pretty typical – that is to say, it was good. You know, appropriately salted with an adequate spritz of lime. I was very curious about the pumpkin seed dip though. I’ve had pumpkin seeds before, as well as pumpkin meat. But pumpkin seed dip? This was new to me. Eating buddy and I were very pleasantly surprised – this grainy concoction was hearty and well-seasoned, yet let the pumpkin seed flavor shine through. We were fans!
We then moved onto the second course – we had a choice of either Esquites (grilled corn off-the-cob, epazote, chile piquin, mayo queso fresco and lime) or Sopa de Azteca (Guajillo-tomato broth, fried tortilla, avocado and queso fresco). We both went with the Esquites:
…and we were both very happy with our choice! The corn was super sweet and the creamy mayo, cheese and spritz of lime reminded me of my somewhat inauthentic but delicious Elote attempt.
For the third course, we had the choice of Pollo Mole (house-made toastadas, shredded chicken mole poblano):
….or the Hongos (golden masa half-moon quesadilla, sauteed mushrooms):
Both were delicious – I was slightly more a fan of the quesadilla (though I thought it more resembled an empanada, potato potahto I guess) because of the accompanying cilantro (I think) sauce, cheesy goodness and mushrooms.
For the final course, we were presented with a selection of four tacos and asked to select two. I went with the Carnitas (pork confit, cilantro, onions) and the Verduras (grilled cactus, poblano peppers, mushrooms, queso Chihuahua), as you can see in the first photo. I knew the Carnitas would be a dependable standby, and I was very curious to try the grilled cactus in the Verduras taco.
Sure enough, the Carnitas was savory and flavorful, and the cactus in the Verduras was interesting – it reminded me of a soft cucumber with a greenbean-like taste. The meaty, umami-laden mushrooms and queso complemented the fresh cactus well.
The food at Pulqueria was thoroughly enjoyable; however, I docked some apples off my rating because I was super thirsty when I got home as well as the next morning – they must have been quite generous with the salt! Additionally, while I enjoyed the hidden-away, hard-to-find-location vibe (it is deeeeep in Chinatown with no obvious signs outside), it might turn-off some people who A) don’t want to make the trek or B) simply can’t find it. Despite these points, I did enjoy the meal – especially with the groupon offer 😉
Great hidden vibe, dishes could go a little easier on the salt.
11 Doyers Street (btw Pell St. and Chatham Square)
Hidden-away restaurants – are you a fan?