For 8 hours each day, the spices, chocolate, plantains, almonds, raisins, and sesame seeds that form the basis for Casa Enrique’s mole bubble and blend on the stove, creating one of the most complex, rich, not-too-sweet iterations of this dish that Gotham has to offer. Not all get to try it, however, as the temptations here are many, from the guajillo-pepper marinated ribs, to ceviche crafted from fluke caught in nearby Montauk, to the creamy enchiladas that chef/owner Cosme Augilar recreates from his mother’s recipe. Originally from the state of Chiapas, Aguilar brings a sophisticated version of southern Mexican food to this near-to-Manhattan, gentrifying section of Queens (it’s just one subway stop from Grand Central Station). His insistence that this type of food get respect is also apparent in the décor, which is minimalist in the extreme—white walls with no decorations, a stainless steel bar, and painted-white wood tables—all the better to set off the vivid colors of the food. Warning: I’m not the only one who knows about Casa Enrique, so it is imperative that you get advance reservations (though there is some bar seating).
- Pauline Frommer