Astoria, Mexican, Restaurants
Dec 12, 2014

A Recent Tasting at Chela Y Garnacha, Great Mexican Food on 36th Ave

Continuing to catch up on our tasting reports, we now bring you Chela Y Garnacha, a relatively new Mexican restaurant that opened up in the On The Nile restaurant/hookah bar (…)

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Photo credit: Chela Garnacha

Continuing to catch up on our tasting reports, we now bring you Chela Y Garnacha, a relatively new Mexican restaurant that opened up in the On The Nile restaurant/hookah bar space. The place looks quite different, with reclaimed wood slats on the wall, a cozy vibe, and excellent service. Full disclosure: this meal was comped.

Here are a few photos from the tasting. Apologies for the quality, we had low light that evening.

Margaritas @chela_y_garnacha #salty #goodness

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Ceviche on a chip with a pinch of Valintina sauce @chela_y_garnacha

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@chela_y_garnacha Intrincadas…translation delicious. Shredded chicken/Zuchinni on top of a masa patty.

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@chela_y_garnacha #holy #guacamole

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Tres quesadillas @chela_y_garnacha

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Let them eat tacos! @chela_y_garnacha

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Dulce de leche bunuelos #mexican #desserts @chela_y_garnacha

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First off, we got ourselves some margaritas, which were quite easy to drink. This is either a good thing or a bad thing. Bottom line, they were the perfect thing at the end of a long day of shooting our Gift Guide at QNS Collective! Later on we had micheladas, which are rimmed with salt and chili powder, so good.

As far as food, we started with guacamole, because IMO guacamole is one of the most delicious things on this earth (the rumor of an avocado shortage strikes fear in our hearts). Theirs is made fresh each day, and came with homemade chips, too. It was a great way to start the meal and I’d get it again in a heartbeat.

After that we had a serving of the Ceviche Acapulco, also very good. After many years of feeling dubious about ceviche, I’ve really warmed up to it and try to get it whenever it’s on the menu. It was recommended to us that we try it with a little Valentina, a classic Mexican hot sauce, which was a brilliant addition.

Intrincadas were next, crisp masa patties, topped with shredded chicken and zucchini flower, AKA flor de calabaza. I expected to prefer the chicken, but in the end I quite liked the zucchini flower version! I’d get it again.

The Quesadillas Fritas are filled with huitlacoche (corn smut), flor de calabaza, or just cheese. It’s a little different than a conventional quesadilla, since it’s fried, but again, the flor de calabaza is a standout.

We nommed on tacos, which is the item I knew best from the Chela Y Garnacha folks, which also run the Mexico Blvd Taco Truck. Yes, the crispy cheese is available, just like on the truck and it pretty much goes with everything. In fact, I was a bit apprehensive about including it in the fish taco (pescado), but it worked beautifully! We tried the al pastor, adobo, and nopales, and they were solid, though I really loved the fish taco. It’s made with wild cod and topped with a slaw, as is the way they are often served. Maybe it’s the Californian in me that connects, I dunno—it’s just good food.

Additional tacos on the menu include tinga, bistec, carne asada, shrimp, mushrooms, and vegetables.

We should also mention the grilled jalapeños, which are rather spicy, not that that’s a bad thing. It tasted like they were seasoned with soy sauce, which really works. Emily is a huge fan.

We ended with something called Buñuelos, which was totally different from what I expected. I usually consider a buñuelo to be a round, sweet, baked good, but this was a thin, crispy, wide fritter topped with cajeta, which is a goat’s milk caramel, and let me tell you—it was out of this world delicious. The combination of the crispy fried and the creamy sweet was wonderful. Total yum.

Chela y Garnacha is a great addition to the Astoria dining scene, bringing their own approach to Mexican food, which is absolutely welcome. We love tacos but it’s nice to have unique dishes like the Intrincadas, and frankly, a broader menu of taco options aside from chicken, pork, and beef. Vegetarians can also find some excellent choices here, too.

So definitely stop by and give them a try!

Chela y Garnacha, 33-09 36th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, Facebook, Twitter

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

2 Comments

Kristy W

We dined here last Thursday and it was great! Guac and shrimp tacos were outstanding. Glad to have this addition!!

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