Thanks to all who recommended cheap lunch places near 27th and Park. (Here's that thread:
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED])
Four of us ended up going to Mosaico, on Madison between 33rd and 34th. It's a friendly place with a latin-flavored casual deli atmosphere. They have cold salads and desserts that you can get very quickly, if you're in a rush...though the hot entrees come pretty quickly too. Though there are only a few tables for eating in, we went at noon on a Friday and had no trouble getting seats. Most people take out.
The food is from around Latin America. They seem to have a "rice and beans of the day" daily special, among other daily specials, which is cool. I ordered the chicken stew combo, which came with black beans, coconut rice, and fried sweet plantains- $6.50. The portion was perfect, in my view- not too much, not too little. The rice was great...the beans were weird. A lot of tomato and not a lot of flavor. The chicken stew was just OK. It was a little bland, and the chunks of white meat were a little dry. It was healthier, I think, than your average cuban or puerto-rican meal in the city. I think I missed the porkfat and butter.
one of my friends got the same thing I did, and was happier with it. The other two people both got the tamale of the day- a big huge thing with the usual ingredients, plus mushrooms and peppers. They liked it but found it to be quite dry, and it didn't come with sauce. They used their salsa-flavored salad dressing (it came with a side salad), but still, it was on the dry side.
Overall, it was a mediocre lunch. I suspect, though, that we might not have ordered the right things. I'm not usually very big on sandwiches, but I noticed that a lot of other people were ordering them there. The atmosphere was so relaxed, and the prices so good, that I'll probably go back and give it another try.
Has anyone else felt this way about the food at Mosaico? I read such rave reviews in my chowhound searches, so I was confused when the food was so-so.
The Pie Queen