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Pulqueria early review -- So far so good (longish)

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Pulqueria early review -- So far so good (longish)

Simon | Oct 11, 2011 10:02 AM

the hype and basic deal: new bar/restaurant in the old Doyers Vietnam basement space in Chinatown...uber-trendy during fashion week w/ long lines and doorman...introduces NYC to the beverage "pulque" which is a fermented mescally liquid...and serves "authentic Mexico City streetfood"...from the folks who own Apotheke down the street.

i tried Pulqueria last Saturday...was meeting someone for drinks elsewhere nearby later on, so i stopped in around 8pm...there is no sign, except the old Doyers Vietnam sign, and a mellow but unsmiling doorman, who holds a reservation list...after telling him i was planning to eat at the bar, he nodded okay...

Downstairs it's dim and atmospheric and quite nice, imo -- and for people who've been to Doyers Vietnam, a bit hilarious to see it all art-directed into a trendy space...dining room is off to right, not sure if menu is same as the bar, but i think so...

Was easy enough to grab a bar seat at that time, though most seats were full within an hour...the pleasant Mexico-City-born bartender rec'd the tacos, which come two for 11 bucks and they allow you to mix and match from about 8 or so taco varieties...i ended up getting two of these, so tried 4 kinds, all served in small soft corn tortillas

-- grilled tilapia...usually not my favorite fish, but this was great!...fish had nice texture: not mushy at all like tilapia can be...and the various onion, tomato, cilantro had a bright intense flavor that i loved...

-- cochinita (sp) w/ avocado...stewed pork, a nice portion of meat for such a small tortilla, and again great bright bold flavor...incredibly good...

-- carnitas...pork confit...this was fine but not as interesting as the others...

-- chorizo...my least favorite...nicely spiced, but the sausage is crumbled into tiny, slightly burnt pebbles...

While 11 bucks for two tiny tacos seemed a lot, i was quite full after two rounds...the menu also has a "pickled vegetable starter" for only 6 bucks -- i saw a group nearby eating it and it looked wonderful: a large heaping salad of veggies w/ some avocado and cheese on it, so i will definitely get it next time...there are gorditas and some other menu options, but i didn't look too closely at the rest.

Drinks: i tried the pulque straight and served in a little mug w/ ice...not sure exact alcohol content: the menu says "stronger than beer", but i'd guess a good bit less than wine...to me it seemed like slightly-sweet lemonade w/ a faint medicinal agave taste...fine, but i can't say i'm a fan -- switched to wine after the first one...but most people were drinking it in mixed drinks rather than straight...

My only real qualm with the place drink-wise is that the wine pours are tragicomically small -- like literally two ounces of wine!...when the bartender poured the first "glass" i actually thought he was just giving me a generous taste before pouring the rest...and while he did add a little bit later on, it's kind of ridiculous...as we were gabbing about food&drink&Mexico for a while and i was clearly happy and liked the place, i asked him politely about the small-pour issue, he kind of winced, and indicated that the pours are dictacted by the management and that he's not crazy about it either but that maybe it'll change...

Overall First Impression: the best Mexican food i've tasted since i lived in LA...and i think it's a cute dark little spot for a date...will report back as i try more dishes....

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Apotheke
9 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013

Pulqueria
11 Doyers St, New York, NY 10038

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