Restaurant Review: Don Paco Lopez Tortas

Tinga de Pollo Tostadas–$6

Almost three years ago Keith and I suffered a neighborhood restaurant loss from which we thought we would never recover. Without any warning our go-to Mexican restaurant, Mesa Mexicana (formerly of E 117th St) up and moved to the West Side. Keith discovered the tragic news when he called for his beloved Torta con Chorizo y Huveos delivery and was denied because they were now located on W 102nd St and we were no longer in their 10 block delivery radius (NOTE: a little online research suggests that they don’t exist at all anymore…unless they are under a new name?) In a daze of disbelief Keith walked over to the store front and, upon seeing it vacant, was so shocked that he couldn’t eat for the rest of the night.

Though we were on the hunt for a replacement immediately, the bar was high and the competition was mediocre. That is, until Don Paco Lopez Tortas opened at 2131 3rd Ave (between E 116th St and E 117th St). Originally started as Don Paco Lopez Panaderia (serving traditional Mexican Baked goods) around two years ago they expanded into the restaurant space two doors down from the bakery, and now serve the best Mexican Food in Spanish Harlem 3 blocks from my front door. You can go to Don Paco’s for all of the traditional Mexican fare; tortas, tamales, enchiladas, quesadillas, massive burritos, and amazing tacos. Though everything we have tried has been outstanding, as of late we have been on a serious tostada kick. Quite possibly on of the best ways to spend $6 in NYC, tostadas consist of two perfectly fried tortilla disks layered with refried beans, shredded lettuce, a heap of tinga de pollo (or any protein of your choosing), topped with thick slices of tomatoes and onion and then drizzled with sour cream and cotija cheese. Lalo (the man behind the counter and the kitchen magic) is extremely accommodating and will fix them for you anyway you want. We eat here at least once a week, and if you are local this spot should become a permanent part of your breakfast/lunch/dinner rotation.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

MUST   TRY

PROS

CONS

TAMALES:Verde con Queso or  De Ranjas de PolloTOSTADAS:Tinga de PolloTORTAS: Chorizo y Huevo or PablanoTACOS:Carne Enchilada, Tinga de Pollo, or ChorizoMAIN DISH:Pollo Azteca

  • Bilingual ordering (English & Spanish)
  • Take out, sit down, or delivery
  • Amazingly friendly service
  • Fresh and Tasty food
  • Child/Picky eater friendly
  • Serves breakfast
  • Exceptional value
  • Best Iced Coffee in Spanish Harlem
  • Delivery always arrives upright and is not disfigured in transit
  • Only open until 8pm (so get your fix early!)
  • Tamales & Barbacoa only available on the weekend

Ranjas de Pollo Tamale–$1.50

Pablano Torta (pablano pepper, ham, egg, and cheese with traditional torta fixings)–$8

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