On the last week-end of my recent New York trip, I went to dinner at the Morningside Heights Mexican restaurant, Amigos, so it was only appropriate that I bring mi amigo, Manuel, con mi. (It’s really just “Manny,” but I like to get into the spirit.)
It turned-out to be my favorite meal that I had in those entire three weeks on the east coast! And it was a really fun time, too, especially because it was the week-end before Halloween. Manny erroneously assumed the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead, for you gringos out there) decorations were for that time of year, but I knew otherwise; they’re up all the time because…it’s a Mexican restaurant! (I think Manny needs to get out more, don’t you?) We enjoyed all of the funky décor; there was so much to look at!
The casual, laid-back atmosphere, and our uber-pleasant server, Paulie, combined to make our visit a wonderful one. We lingered much longer than just the amount of time we spent consuming their delicious food!
I really appreciated that most of the dishes have the ingredients listed right on the menu. No mysteries there. That way, if you want something left off, like sour cream, let’s say, it’s done before it comes to the table and surprises you. Good job, Amigos!
So let’s get to what we ate already! Manny started-off his repast by drinking the tasty sangria, which was chockfull of fruit, and came in an interesting vessel. What a cute presentation.
I had already tried their famous guacamole the week before at AG Kitchen, their sister restaurant on Columbus Avenue, (my review of which you can read here: itsnotaboutme.tv/news/new-yorkdining-ag-kitchen,) and I couldn’t wait to have it again. Since Manny doesn’t eat it, (and I’m not a food hog,) I had to forego having the trio of flavors they offer, so I went with my favorite one, the pineapple and pomegranate, and I loved it as much as I did at AG.
Next up for us were the potato and cheese flautas with tomatillo salsa. I had never even seen this dish anywhere else, and was very happy with it. Manny was unfamiliar with it, as well, and exclaimed, “It’s like a blintz!” He added that “they combined that soft texture with a crispy outside,” and he really enjoyed the results.
Then we tried what Manny deemed the “phenomenal” chicken tortilla soup. If we lived near-by, I think we would both stop into Amigos on a daily basis just to have that soup! It was truly OMG! Manny said, “It wasn’t too salty, or sweet, or spicy, or plain—it was just right!” That’s an assessment I (and Goldilocks) wholeheartedly agree with.
I ordered the chopped salad as my appetizer, but it was gigantic! It was seriously enough for four people. It was a fabulous mix of grilled corn, roasted peppers, beans, chayote, and queso oaxaca and was topped with crispy tortillas strips and lime vinaigrette. It’s the perfect healthful meal, which I was heavily in need of, at that point in my travels.
We then moved on to the entrees. Manny ordered the hangar steak which he said was “wonderful!” He was really a fan of the flavoring, and added that he loved that “they cut the steak up for you.” It comes with very seasoned (read “spicy,” for us wimps,) potatoes. The staff was very pleasant about substituting plain ones for us, which we appreciated, and we both loved them like that. Both ways were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Manny pointed-out that they were also “good size chunks.”
I chose a surprisingly scrumptious entree. The arroz con pollo was perfect! It was exactly my kind of meal. They do it as strips of chicken breast mixed into saffron rice and…peas. My favorites!!! (Up until Amigos, my rice with chicken has always come with the obligatory Mexican beans and red-ish sauce, so I could not have been more delighted with this combo!) [Note: The menu also lists tomatoes for this dish, but mine didn’t have any. I was in such heaven eating it that I neglected to get to the bottom of that discrepancy. Sorry.]
Five interesting types of tacos are featured, and they come in an order of three, with rice and beans. I really wanted to try the slow-cooked pork carnitas with grilled pineapple & avocado salsa, but I was already totally stuffed at that point, so kind Paulie got me just one. And it was as yummy as it sounds! It will be a conundrum the next time I’m there as to whether to order the arroz con pollo or the pork tacos. Or just soup and guacamole. I rarely have that many dishes that I want to eat again!
When we were done with all that, Paulie came over with something that looked like a colorful fan in his hands. It appeared to be made out of paint sticks that were attached on one end, and each one was colored for parts of the Mexican flag It turned-out that it was the dessert menu! Each stick featured the name of one of their desserts, which Paulie then described for us. Very clever presentation.
We were more than happy with our two choices, Oaxaca churros and Mexican rice pudding. They were both delish, especially the churros, which come with chocolate dipping sauce. And by the way—I detest churros, in general!!!
Amigos is also known for their lunch specials, which is great for all the college kids near-by. (It’s in close proximity to Columbia and Barnard.) So, between Chef Alex Garcia’s delicious food, fun atmosphere, great personnel, (led by manager Seth ,) easy street parking, and very affordable prices, you know that I will be back next time I’m in NY. I hope to see you all there! (Their colorful website, below, will give you another portent of what’s to come.)
2888 Broadway New York 212-864-1143 www.amigosnyc.com