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[Photographs: Scarlett Lindeman]

La Estancia de la Espiga in Corona has recently changed its name from El Globo, though the ownership and menu remains the same. The 102nd Street restaurant serves up Mexican food in the style of la mixteca, a cultural nexus of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Puebla.

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The restaurant is an open-door meeting place for locals. Seniors from the neighborhood come to talk shop with the owners and spoon up colorful layered gelatina from plastic cups. The tortilleria part of the business makes the tortillas a mano y a la máquina; i.e., in both hand-pressed and commercial versions that shoot off the modest tortilla machine stationed in the back. La Estancia sells tortillas by the pound, to go, and as wrappings for huge tacos ($2.50), bulging with chorizo, barbacoa, al pastor, and cecina. The bistec features soft, mild crumbles of citrus-marinated beef; the chorizo contains squares of pork muscle and wobbly fat, with some browned pieces a brash porcine funk. You can taste the pig rooting around.

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There are some problems during the mid-week lulls: no tamales, over-toasted bread, an ammonia odor from tinga that had languished too long in the refrigerator. But the kitchen moves at a more lively pace on weekends when the crowds descend. The huaraches ($7.50) and tlacoyos (smaller huaraches without toppings, $3.50) send up wisps of black smoke from the plancha as they cook; the masa arrives hot and sweet and the crust is charred like a toasted marshmallow. Come June, the first of the season's chapulines—crunchy, salty, fried grasshoppers destined for summertime quesadillas ($8), will arrive.

La Estancia de la Espiga

42-13 102 Street, Corona, NY 11368 (map)
718-779-7898

About the author: Scarlett Lindeman is a cook, food-writer, and recipe editor of Diner Journal, a food/arts quarterly. E-mail her at scarlett.lindeman@gmail.com.

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