Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Salon Mexico

Chelsea, New York, NY
212-868-7780

Review by SuSu

I thought this place was Italian when I first saw it, because there was a bright red, white and green awning in front of it. Of course, if I'd taken the time to look, I would have noticed the HUGE letters emblazoning the awning which read "MEXICO." It's across the street from The Cupcake Café, behind the Port Authority building on Ninth Avenue.

Culinary School Partner#2 and I, having suffered at the less than resplendent Culinaria (which, coincidentally, has shut its doors since posting the review -- never underestimate the power of disappointment!), were looking to meet up in a place that was cheap and tasty this time. She told me, "The lengua tacos are $3.50 and they are tasty enough to fit the criteria." I had to puzzle over the word "lengua" ... did she mean "tongue"?

She did, indeed, and the restaurant was actually very good. It has the feel of a honky-tonk, with murals painted by a friend-of-a-brother type of thing. They wanted to convey festivalness, I guess, with the strings of lights and bright (garish) wall colors, and many Mexican flags. It was a warm night and needed air conditioning, but there wasn't any. So we ordered "aguas" -- unprocessed fruit juices. I had watermelon, which was wondrous. I had several! They also have Mexican sodas, shakes and mixed drinks.

The special was simply called "fish soup" and it cost about $6. A whole snapper was cut up and poached in a nice broth with a rather macho looking mirepoix and it was really really good. Everyone who had it noticed the slight laxative effect the next day ... but it wasn't necessarily bad, not extreme -- a good cleanout, perhaps. I did have the aforementioned "lingua taco" -- not bad, but I don't think it's served hot enough. The fattiness that's inherent to tongue was too pronounced, which also dampened a lot of the flavor too. I also tried the chorizo, but they chop the meat too fine. That's a general criticism of Mexican food, actually .. a lot of overcooked stuff, chopped or shredded too fine.

But hey, for three people it cost less than $40, even including long-neck beers and tip. So the requirements of "cheap and good" were mostly fulfilled. Very nice to have the choice of extremes in this town! The waitresses misunderstood us a lot since they didn't speak much English, so we resorted to the pointing and gesturing method of ordering. But they were very nice, even in the mostly empty restaurant (it hops for lunch, like many spots in Manhattan). I'd go back for the agua sandia (watermelon water, which seems it would be watery, but isn't) and the fish soup. And it was good enough to try again for the tacos!


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