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Alma was fun, but I still like Maria's food better

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Alma was fun, but I still like Maria's food better

parkslopemama | Mar 8, 2004 10:58 AM

Let me preface this lukewarm review by saying that, in general, I am THRILLED that the quality of Mexican food available in the U.S. has improved so greatly in the past decade or so. Remember back when the only Mexican food available was Tex-Mex stuff and horrible burritos? We are incredibly lucky to have a wide range of Mexican food available in NY, from cheap places like Speedy's in Sunset Park, to upscale places like Maya in Manhattan.

Now, maybe I'm getting spoiled and my expectations are too high, BUT... I didn't think Alma in Carroll Gardens/Red Hook was all that. The maragaritas were flavorless. The pork chops (chuletas de puerco adobo) with roasted tomato sauce were also a little bland. The enchiladas had a good chile sauce made with New Mexican red chilis (one of my favorites), but they were swimming in too much sauce and became a bit soggy. Also, I resent having pay for rice or beans separately as a side order ($3 each).

On the positive side, the appetizers were quite good. My favorite was a simple order of chicken flautas with a tangy avocado sauce (I think there were pureed tomatillos in there). The sopes (masa boats) with shredded duck meat and "manchamanteles" sauce were also delicious. (By the way, I love the name of that sauce -- it means "stains the sleeves." If you want to make it at home, Zarela Martinez's book, Food from My Heart, has a good recipe. It is a sweet sauce with red chili and pureed fruit. But I digress...) Anyway, if I go to Alma again, I will probably just order a bunch of appetizers and try a dessert.

In short, Alma is an interesting restaurant with a fairly ambitious menu, and I am grateful that serious Mexian food is "on the radar" at all. But, overall, the execution was disappointing. For this kind of food, I think Maria's Mexican Bistro on Union Street in Park Slope is better.

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