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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Restaurant review: Guadalupe la Poblanita

On a recent trip through Connecticut, I specially timed my journey so I could stop for lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant: Guadalupe la Poblanita, 136 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06513. My family started eating at Guadalupe la Poblanita a dozen years ago, when we moved to Hamden, CT. At that time, the restaurant was located in a cramped little building with only about a half-dozen fast-food-restaurant tables, sandwiched between an auto junkyard and an ambulance barn on Middletown Avenue. All parking was on the street or, more often, on the sidewalk.

We loved the place immediately! My family were just about the only Anglos we ever saw there. The food was authentic Pueblan cuisine and everything was homemade, fresh and delicious. The homemade tortillas and guacamole were particularly good. Our favorite entrees quickly became, for Kimberly, the vegetable chile relleno and, for me the carne enchilada. Often, we would order extra tostadas or tamales or even just extra tortillas, which left us a little more than pleasantly full, but which were well worth the extra effort of having to get wheeled out to the curb. Kimberly and I could both eat for less than $20 and our infant son got all-he-could-eat rice and beans for free. Teresa, Guadalupe's daughter, waited tables and became like family to us and, though service was anything but "brisk," was always a delight.

Since my family moved away from Connecticut several years ago, Guadalupe has moved her restaurant twice, each time to a nicer location. The current (and, I would suspect, final) location is in a restaurant with plenty of space, a bar, and even a dance floor, where people could (and I expect do) have all sorts of receptions. There's ample parking (complete with security cameras). Everything is new and improved, except for the food, which could never be improved, and the decor, which still has plenty of Corona and Negro Modelo advertisements, and handwritten signs saying things like "No Shirt, Shoes or Pets Allowed." Guadalupe still uses the same menus that she used in the old place, complete with my favorite quote from Miss Piggy: "Never eat more than you can lift."

When I stopped in for lunch last week, I had the same problem I always do at Guadalupe's: I wanted to ignore Miss Piggy's advice. Reason reasserted itself, however, and I selected the tostadas, one beef and one spicy pork, along with rice and beans. Teresa was buzzing around in the background and stopped by my table to visit for a while. Guadalupe popped out of the kitchen a couple times, but the waitress was a woman I had not previously met. She was very attentive, though she seemed somwhat surprised when I asked for jalapeño peppers with my meal, but quickly brought me some.

When the tostadas arrived, they were everything I had hoped for. The tortillas were crisp, with a delightful, nutty flavor, that I have found nowhere else (and which I expect may be due to the use of real manteca for frying). The toppings were perfect, as always. The beef, which I expect is flank steak, had its usual robust flavor and the spices on the pork (which is the same pork Guadalupe serves as carne enchilada) was delightfully spicy. My server brought me plenty of guacamole, pico de gallo and homemade salsa, which made things even better. Since it was lunch time and I still had some driving to do, a tamarind flavored Jarritos soda was the perfect accompaniment to the meal.
I'm not sure when I'm going to be in New Haven next, but you can be sure that I'll definitely make a point of stopping back and enjoying some of the best Mexican food I've ever eaten.


Anonymous said...

What about the SoNo Bakery in lovely South Norwalk?
One of your new favorite spots in CT
Joseph :-)

Paul Bryant-Smith said...

You're entirely correct. I'll have to review SoNo Bakery soon, perhaps next time I'm in town.