Sueños is a Mexican restaurant in Chelsea with tasty margaritas and a very rude hostess. I hate to start a review that way, but I hate even more to start a meal that way. We arrived at the mostly-empty restaurant at about 8pm one night last week and were told brusquely that since we didn't have a reservation, we could eat, but would need to be out by 9:30. That was fine, but it left a bad taste in my mouth (and there were still plenty of free tables at 9:45 when we left). Still, the rest of the staff was friendly and the food helped make up for the welcome.
Sueños has a tasty bread basket—cornbread with a smoky black bean dip topped with a bit of crema. From there, we started with the Guacamole ($12), which is listed on the menu as "$6 per person." There were three of us, but we decided that guacamole for two would be plenty, and it was. The fresh, hot tortilla chips were delicious and stole the show from the guac, which was good but nothing special. We also had an order of the Chicken Chilaquiles ($10), a mound of tortilla chips softened in salsa verde and tossed with shredded chicken and topped with crispy fried onion rings. This was one of the best dishes of the night, both in terms of taste and value; the vinegary salsa verde infused the chips and chicken with a ton of flavor. The greasy onion rings were a disappointment but overall, these played like a really tasty, more grown-up iteration of the nachos you find at many Mexican restaurants.
The Shredded Beef Mini Tacos ($12) were also good. The meat was tender and sweet, reminiscent of barbecue sauce, and topped with pico de gallo and queso fresco. The crispy taco shells added a nice crunch and, let's face it, everything's more fun when it's mini.
We rounded out the meal with a few sides. The Sweet Plantains ($5) were delicious, and filling, a good way to add heft to your meal without too much money (dip them in some guacamole for a great bite). The Sweet Potato-Pasilla Gratin ($5) was the kind of side I love: the same size as an appetizer for a fraction of the price, and one of the most delicious items of our meal. It was rich, cheesy, and not too sweet, the potatoes completely penetrated with flavor.
Overall, our meal at Sueños wasn't bad, exactly. We spent $44 between the three of us before tax and tip, staying just below our $15/person target price. After the hostess drama, the service was perfectly fine, and so was the food. But that's the problem: it's hard for me to call this meal anything other than "fine." If you're in the neighborhood and dying for some dressed-up Mexican, Sueños is a fine choice. If all you want is a margarita and a snack to go along with it, it's probably a great choice. But if you're going to spend your money on a meal like this, there are better places to do it.
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