On the blocks closest to the 6 train stop on Longwood Avenue, a small collection (3-4) of particularly entrepreneurial Mexican bodegas have staked out new territory: selling the typical spices and chilies from back home, and offering home cooked food to a growing community. Steps from the subway is Quetzal Deli Grocery, a dim corner store with windows covered in multi-colored leaflets advertising special deals and hot food.
In the back left corner of the store, adjacent to the cash register and candy shelves, is a collection of family-sized Tupperware containers filled with different home cooked dishes. The food appears to change on a more-or-less daily basis, though how much I can't say; the day's offering are advertised on a paper taped to the window that guards the food.
Rather then just the tacos and tortas typically available at these kinds of places (or similarly minded street carts), the dishes cooked here aren't street snacks. They're more in line with what'd you find at an American-style deli, brown bag lunches for the immigrants who work downtown. A quick glance at the options led me to the adobo cerdo en salsa verde ($6), an easy choice if there was one. Behind the counter, an electric griddle is used to heat up tortillas, which unfortunately aren't homemade, and a microwave is used to heat up the food.
Microwaves be damned: there is some good cooking going down at Quetzal. The sauce, which didn't feature the tartness of the tomatillo so much as its bright sweetness, had a prickly heat that pinched my tongue. The white rice, dressed with the sauce, had surprising depth: likely cooked in stock, and featuring infrequent but carefully diced carrots and red bell peppers. But the pork was something else entirely. Served on the bone, the meat was tender and had a beautiful red color that was miles from that of the dry, pale stuff served across this country. Smothered in the green sauce, it was a dangerously tasty bite.
The question is, though, is there anything else at Quetzal that can compete with this adobo? There's only one way to find out.
Quetzal Deli Grocery
1023 Longwood Ave # B, The Bronx, NY 10459 (map)
About the author: Chris Crowley is a former Serious Eats intern and the author of the Bronx Eats column. You can follow him on twitter here, or pay a visit to his new food blog, Sound Bites, over on Wordpress.