If you’ve been following the blog, then you have seen some of the extraordinary people of the Bronx. Though people make up a large percentage when trying to get to know the culture of a place; there is another important factor BXTRA has yet to cover…the food! On February 2, 2018, that all changed.
In honor of restaurant week, I decided to cover a couple of eateries in the Bronx. First stop was a small Mexican restaurant in an industrial part of Hunts Point, City Tamale. Despite the size of City Tamale, their restaurant has an extensive menu, even offering a number of vegetarian options. No matter what you order; it’s guaranteed that your meal was freshly prepared within the same day. Upon walking in, you are greeted with the aromas of dishes being prepared in the kitchen located right behind the counter.
Unlike other eateries that I know of, City Tamale has unique hours, opening at 5am and closing at 5pm. With a number of trucks parked outside of the authentic eatery, the workers at City Tamale accommodate the drivers by providing breakfast and coffee before their shift. As for their early close, City Tamale is short on staff and are not able to provide food service in the evening. Regardless, the restaurant prides itself on its hard working an close- knit team that they hope to expand in the near future.
I am happy to say that I tried my first Tamale right here! We were given two different tamales, cheese and chicken. The other was a desert that emulates a tamale but has cinnamon and raisins for flavor. To some, a good tamale or any food for that matter should have overwhelming flavor. At City Tamale, it was different. The food was seasoned well, but nothing was too potent. The chef married the natural flavors together well, making a delicious authentic Mexican meal.
My compliments go to Chef Omar!
The second stop was another Mexican restaurant just a few doors down from the Bronx Native shop, Habanero. Opened in September 2017, the family-owned eatery has been serving the Bronx community with authentic meals that you typically won’t get at your average Mexican restaurant. It’s hard to play it safe with just a taco, burrito, or quesadilla because their menu is about seven pages long! If you have the opportunity to try something new, do it.
According to the restaurant manager, Habanero is a hot pepper that people are intimidated by because of its fervent flavor. She continued to explain that like any pepper, the more you eat it, the less intimidating it becomes.
You may want to wash down the heat with a cooling beverage. Perhaps a nice glass of water…but which flavor? Habanero offers a variety of fresh and flavorful water as well as homemade juices.
The underlying message is that Habanero is bringing a new taste to the South Bronx. People typically like to eat what they are accustomed to; after being introduced to a new platter, it adds more richness to the palate. The manager warns that if a customer does order a burrito or quesadilla, they should not expect what they see at Chipotle or Taco Bell.
The food is not the only thing authentic at the restaurant, so is the décor. The family also owns a cabinet business in a different section of the Bronx. Having the cabinet business allowed them to provide their own dining tables, counter table, shelves, and of course, cabinets.
If you want to try a real authentic Mexican dish, but can’t get a plane ticket to Mexico; Habanero is the place to go.
My compliments go to the chef who prepared the food you’ll see in the images below :
I’d like to thank City Tamale and Habanero for their time, awesome service, and delicious food. You both provided an extraordinary experience I won’t forget!