Whenever I visit friends near Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, I make sure to take a side trip to Lupita Grocery, an otherwise nondescript little bodega on 21st Avenue. For less than $4, you can grab a small midday snack or a light lunch in the form of a taco or tamale and a bottle of Mexican Coke.
Lupita offers chicken or pork tacos and chicken, cheese, and pork tamales. The pork here is often a little too fatty for me, but I know that for many of you out there, there's no such thing as pork too fatty, so they might be right up your alley. I generally opt for a chicken taco, which comes loaded with hunks of moist white and (mostly) dark meat and a generous helping of pico de gallo. The taco may look small, but it's a filling snack. Double your order and you'd have a satisfying lunch.
Or, better yet, order a tamale along with it. I gravitate toward the cheese tamale, which is satisfyingly rich and moist, no doubt from the lard used in the masa (corn dough). The cheese tamale is shot through with just enough queso to please and contains one or two red chili peppers.
And did I mention the best part—the real reason I might be going to Lupita? Mexican Coke! The sweet, made-with-real-sugar stuff is in the cooler at the very back of the store, segregated from its HFCS American cousin.
I can't think of a better midday snack than a cheese tamale and a Mexican Coke.
Tamales are $1.25. Tacos, $2. Mexican Coke, $1.50.
29-15 21st Avenue, Astoria NY 11105 (map)