The tortilla is fantastic, extended as far as possible on the tin platter. It was made in Oaxaca, Mexico, of masa (a batter of dried corn saturated with slaked lime) squeezed level until handkerchief thin, at that point prepared on the comal to an even crackle, as fresh at the perimeter as at the middle.
The corn is diverse there, starchier and more grounded, ready to support such expansiveness. It’s precarious to make these mammoth tortillas out of sweeter, milder American corn, which is the reason the hardened, pre-heated rounds, stacked like vintage records, are transported from Mexico. By one means or another they haven’t broken on their long voyage to Cienega Las Tlayudas de Oaxaca, a basic need handed eatery over Corona, Queens.
Over the tortilla, Eva Mendez — right now culinary specialist while her mom, Margarita Perez, is going to Mexico — paints a layer of asiento, pork fat the shade of darker sugar, rendered while cooking carnitas and scratched from the swamps of the pot. Regularly small pieces of pork, caramelized to a close consume, are caught in the grease like fossils in golden.
The second coat is dark beans, bubbled, pummeled and afterward stewed with a disintegrate of toasted avocado leaves, which loan a nearly menthol buzz. On top goes a lacework of thick, chewy quesillo, pulling like mozzarella, and shreds of cabbage, tomato and wedges of avocado.
This is a tlayuda at its most fundamental; some may contend that it needs nothing further to accomplish transcendence. At Cienega, it’s plated with fixings like house-made chorizo, ticking with flavors; cecina, cured and sun-dried hamburger reestablished to deliciousness in the skillet; and pork al minister recolored fire red, an intermixing of pineapple drippings and salt.
Similarly as with a pizza, you’re permitted to part garnishes creamer, in spite of the fact that the division isn’t entirely watched and, probably, you’ll simply get a greater amount of everything: an abundance.
When Cienega was simply one more bodega on a portion of Corona covered with them. “No cash in that,” said Maximo Ojeda, Ms. Mendez’s significant other, who changed the store into an eatery in 2014, when his relative arrived, bringing her formulas and cooking insight to New York. (The “Basic need and Deli” sign remained up until a year ago.)
Ms. Perez and Ms. Mendez originate from the residential area of San Agustín de las Juntas, in Oaxaca. Mr. Ojeda, who worked his way up from dishwasher to table attendant to server at different eateries, experienced childhood in a considerably littler town, Ciénega de Zimatlán, which he recollects from his adolescence in the ’70s as a place where houses had no power or running water — “like Amish nation,” he said — and neighbors needed to share a solitary telephone. (“Presently everyone has a cellphone,” he said.)
A companion from chapel transformed the bodega’s dividers into brilliant paintings, with artists in voluminous skirts prepared to take off and blooms in revolt: dahlias, poinsettias and calla lilies as though invoked by Diego Rivera. Whatever is left of the room still has the vibe of a just-cleared shop, however Mr. Ojeda compensates for it in blunt warmth.
Past tlayudas, a significant part of the menu is recognizable from other Mexican eateries in the precinct: tacos, tortas, burritos, quesadillas. Of note are empanadas de amarillo, not minimal fixed pockets of batter but rather extensive tortillas collapsed around a yellow mole that avoids sweetness, rich with chicken soup and yerba Santa Clause, similar to a flush of root lager.
Enmoladas are free moves of tortillas, much the same as enchiladas, concealed in a mole that merges plantains and raisins with almonds and severely dim chocolate, underscored by notes of smoke and organic product from pasilla, guajillo and ancho chiles. This is especially fine joined by paper-thin cuts of bistec, singed hard and pleasingly near jerky.
There are no sweets, however who needs them when you have horchata, a lavish mix of ground rice, walnuts and vanished and dense drain, soaks with cinnamon sticks and completed with a whirlwind of smashed pecans? Somewhere else nearby, the drink can be sweet to the point that one taste is sufficient; here, served without function in a plastic tub, it’s cooling and warming on the double.
Come summer, Mr. Ojeda stated, the horchata will shade into pink, from the expansion of melon seeds and substance, another Oaxacan custom. He moaned at the idea. “I am — how would you say? Wiped out for home.”