It is always amazing that you can pass by a place dozens of times and never realize the hidden gem within. So is the case with El Coyote. El Coyote is located on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens. Hidden amongst car dealerships, Rite-Aids, 7-11s and karaoke bars is a very unassuming Mexican restaurant that is absolutely worth venturing into.
The atmosphere in El Coyote is warm, the staff friendly and the food fantastic. With that sort of restaurant trifecta a good time and great dining experience is practically guaranteed.
Fork and Spoon and those significant cutlery met here for dinner. Truly, as Fork and Spoon have mentioned before, we bring them along to have more dishes to try – though, really, they are pleasant enough company.
The restaurant is warm and cozy. Great colors throughout and murals painted on the walls. Good music wafting in the background, bottomless iced tea, and a staff that doesn’t hover and rush you. Perfecto!
The tortilla chips are hot and fresh, their salsa freshly made and really good, and no matter how many times you ask for more, they bring them – and with a smile! The salsa was fresh, didn’t have that bitter astringent taste to it that salsa gets that’s been sitting around for days.
The problem becomes, when you want to eat EVERYTHING on the menu, how do you narrow it down to a few choices? Fork supposes, you begin with the first thing on the menu!
Guacamole, prepared tableside. This was probably one of the first times Fork has had guacamole prepared tableside that the person making the guacamole actually listened to how we wanted it prepared … slightly spicy and lots of lime. Most people don’t realize, lime is what makes guacamole pop. Without it, it’s really just mushed up avocado. Brought to the table to dip into the wonderful guacamole were warm, fresh, soft corn tortillas, and more tortilla chips. Needless to say, this was gobbled up in minutes.
Our second starter was a house special, Queso Fundido – and yes, Fork made that name up! Ooey gooey queso (cheese for you gringos out there) with bits of spicy chorizo and tomato. The chorizo bits were slightly crispy. It is unbelievably good! Salty and smooth and rich, and GONE very quickly. Again, served with soft, warm corn tortillas for dipping. You just want to pick up the bowl and run away with it so you don’t have to share any with anyone!
Fork and Spoon decided to share the Cochinita Pibil – for you Johnny Depp fans, a bit of trivia, this is the dish he ordered everywhere he went in Once Upon a Time in Mexico, once finished, if he liked the way it was cooked, he killed the chef. This was wonderful, and we did not feel the need to kill the chef! Pork shoulder rubbed with achiote, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked until for tender. The little tree was heart of palm, avocado and olives. The pork was beyond tender, just falling a part as we began to dig in. The spiciness of the pork was nicely balanced with a little bite of avocado or heart of palm. The paring was wonderful. Very clever and made the dish all the more appetizing.
Served along side the Cochinite Pibil was Rice & Beans. The presentation of the plates and the plating is as important here as the food itself. They get the concept that your first bite of food is visual. The rice is fresh, not stale rice that has been sitting around, the black beans well seasoned and not mushy. Oh, for more room in our stomachs!
Now, the main problem with dining with our significant cutlery is they aren’t so willing to share!
One ordered the Chinichangas. In most Mexican restaurants, you get one gigantic chimichanga, way too much extra tortilla and not enough filling. Instead, at El Coyote, you are served two smaller chimichangas. They are completely filled, not greasy in the least, and served with a good helping of guacamole and sour cream. Totally worth ordering.
The other ordered Bistec Ranchero. Butterflied and grilled sirloin steak served with slowly cooked onions and poblano peppers with a mild guajillo sauce. Between the poblano and guajillo peppers there was both a smokey pepper flavor and a little bit of heat. Very nice portion of sirloin. Fork and Spoon did not try the steak, but from the silence on that side of the table, it must have been good!
Ah, dessert. No matter what you eat for dinner – or how much – there is always room for dessert. It’s Spoon’s theory that dessert goes into a separate stomach and therefore always enough room.
Spoon and Fork shared a Tres Leches cake. We were very wary of ordering tres leches cake. Past experience has taught us that ‘home made’ doesn’t always mean made in this particular home. But nothing else jumped out at us from the dessert menu. I know, stinky photo, but seriously good cake! Not damp and mushy. Definitely made in-house. Baked right inside a white ramekin. As full as we were, we had no troubles gobbling this up. Not quite sure what the red syrup was on top. Not sweet enough for maraschino juice, but really very good. Light spongy cake with loads of sweetness from the – well, from the tres leches, but not the soggy mush we were expecting.
One significant cutlery ordered Fried Ice Cream. Frozen solid vanilla ice cream, dredged in crushed corn flakes, and deep fried. Good quality ice cream makes a huge difference here. The ice cream sat in a puddle of chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
And the other significant cutlery ordered a bread pudding. Fork is not usually a fan of bread pudding. Mushy is the only word that ever comes to mind when those two words are put together. But this was pretty good. Not too wet or mushy. There was a delicious guava sauce on top which added a great deal of flavor to the bread pudding. Served on the side was vanilla ice cream.
The service in El Coyote is outstanding. They don’t care how long you take to finish your meal. They are at the ready to refill iced teas and water. They saw Fork and Spoon taking photos of the food and would bring plates over and say, ‘this will make a beautiful picture.’
When our meal was done they brought over glasses of warm mulled wine for the table.
If you live in the Jackson Heights area, you definitely must try El Coyote. If you don’t want o go out because it’s too chilly, order in, they deliver!
For those of you in the Monroe, CT, area, you are in luck as well! There is an El Coyote located at 838 Main St., Monroe, CT., 203.459.4055.